Hello and give a warm welcome back to Renault. You see, while everyone was busy, righteously so, talking about Mercedes, the under-performing Ferrari cars, Verstappen and Alonso with McLaren; Renault, unnoticed and discreetly, made their comeback to F1. Which is good news. Founded in 1899 in France and based in Boulogne-Billancourt, Renault can boast of a history of motor racing successes whereas most rivals just can’t. Renault won endurance races including Le Mans and rally championships, and Formula One, both as an engine supplier and constructor. And they have been doing that for a century. The new Renault F1 car is very, well… new, very yellow and very ambitious. Renault F1 driver Kevin Magnussen, young talent and F2 winner from Denmark, scored some points for Renault this season and he said that, “it’s not our goal to be scoring points yet, we have a long-run goal of winning the Championship.”
So, Renault back to F1, the only French team to compete next Sunday in what’s (vaguely) the only French GP. In Monaco. Which isn’t technically France. But it still kind of is.
It all sounds very complicated and it all brings me on neatly to the luxurious door of the “ametista black” Renault Talisman I’ve been driving this week.
The Talisman is, to all intents and purposes, a French luxury saloon (or sedan if you’re reading this in America), which means that it’s very comfortable, very soft and a bit slow. At least the 1,6 diesel with 160 BHP I’ve driven was. It wafts and floats rather than cruise and ride. It’s every bit as comfy as it is easy to drive. You could probably go to Paris overnight with it and be there before you’ve even realized you left home. Not because it will go there quickly, it won’t, but because it will do so effortlessly.
Quite apart from the outside, where the Talisman does shine (literally, the ametista black is extremely sun-reflective), this big Renault really shines (metaphorically, this time) inside. Not fancy, but very elegant; sobriety is the new hubris. Seat massages, electronic this, automatic that, the infotainment system is, as it is the case with most cars these days, a big tablet with a car wrapped around it.
The Talisman isn’t the best in its class, if we’re honest. It’s always difficult to beat the Germans. But think of it as Paris. Berlin is probably a bit tidier, a bit cleaner, a lot more discreet; Paris is more gaudy, darker, dirtier. By measurable stats and figures, German rivals are better than the Talisman, in the same way that Berlin is probably a better city than Paris. But where would you rather go? Exactly.
words & pics: Alessandro Renesis
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