Avantime for a party

We’re big fans of the Renault Avantime here on PetrolBlog, so when Rob Griggs-Taylor was invited to the tenth anniversary of the car’s launch, we couldn’t resist popping along. Here’s Rob’s report from the day.

On an overcast and slightly damp day I ambled round the corner of Coventry Transport Museum and was faced with the sight of two rows of Renault Avantimes gathered in front of the building, facing the amazing Whittle Arches. Twenty eight cars along with their owners and friends had gathered to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the car’s launch.

Renault Avantime on PetrolBlog - 10th anniversaryTo fill in the back story, Renault had decided to move production of the then-new Espace away from Matra and into one of their own factories but promised a replacement car for them to assemble. This was the Avantime, an obscure MPV/coupé which was based on the Espace 3 chassis but with an aluminium upper structure clothed in a composite skin to try and keep weight down. Normally one would expect such a combination of lightweight materials to gain the car an admirable power to weight ratio but with the Avantime Renault managed to still come in at 1.7 tonnes which managed to blunt even the 210 PS V6 performance to over nine seconds in the 0-60mph sprint. Massive pillar-less doors open on a double hinge to allow ingress or egress in tighter spaces, and these probably make up a large proportion of the weight I’m informed by those who have had to remove one!

Renault Avantimes 'shakin' that ass'

By no measure, other than perhaps rarity, could the Avantime be considered a success. Roughly half of the 8,557 made were sold in France, with around 400 sold in the UK in right-hand drive form. Of these only around 300 are still around according to How Many Left?

Red Renault Avantime 3.0 V6 with LPGOf the owners I spoke to, none ran their Avantime as their sole car. Andrew Hedges has a Porsche 968 ClubSport and a 1952 Citroën 2CV in addition to his 3.0 Avantime. He bought his red car in arguably the best combination of V6 petrol fitted with an LPG system. He described the car as having a “lovely gurgle noise” from the aftermarket exhaust.

Chatting with Andrew and others there was a real sense of enthusiasm about their massive coupés. Mentioned positively on more than one occasion were the massive glass roof, the unusual doors, the interior space and the feeling of open air motoring with the roof and all windows open. Negative points seemed to centre around the fuel consumption, with most seeming to get something in the twenties. With such a big car powered by either a 2.0 litre turbo or a 3.0 litre V6, both in petrol guise, that didn’t come as a huge surprise.

Renault Avantime interior

I’ll leave the last word to Andrew again, who said that he loved the car because, “every time you get in is an occasion”.

Surely that’s what motoring should be about?

PetrolBlog would like to thank all the owners for their time and friendly banter, and especially to Adrian who kindly opened the door on his for photographic purposes, and Andrew who was a mine of information.

You can follow Rob on twitter @robgt2. Also, check out Duncan McVitie’s previous Avantime post here.

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ABOUT AUTHOR
Gavin Big-Surname
The chief waffler and founder of PetrolBlog in 2010. Has a rather unhealthy obsession with cars from the 80s and 90s, and is on a one-man mission to collect the cars nobody else wants. Also likes tea and Hobnobs.

12 comments

  1. April 13, 2012
    Mike Scott

    Hi,

    Used to see quite a few around the Fareham area as Taylor Made Computer Solutions had a load of them.

    Reply
    • April 13, 2012
      MajorGav

      Nice choice of company cars! 😉

      Reply
  2. April 13, 2012
    Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

    Damnit! Now I want an Avantime again…

    That said, the prices of Vel Satis still tempt me. And they’re probably marginally more sensible to run, given the diesel option. Much as I hate to admit it I do have to consider fuel consumption when I look at cars and figures in the 20s really make me think hard.

    Reply
    • April 13, 2012
      MajorGav

      ‘Sensible’. ‘Diesel’. ‘Fuel consumption’. You do realise which blog this is, don’t you?!

      You’ve changed, man. 😉

      Reply
      • April 13, 2012
        Antony Ingram (@antonyingram)

        Hah! I’ve never had anything against diesel, I just keep on accidentally not buying them when I go out on the hunt for something sensible!

        Plus, can’t argue with 3.0-litres and 180bhp of V6 diesel in a Vel Satis body…

        Reply
  3. April 13, 2012
    Rafael

    Back then my local Renault dealer gave me the oportunity to drive one. The most sofisticated car I had driven until then was a Mondeo, so I was expecting interesting things. But the lacklustre performance (from a 210 bhp and manual transmission car) and the atrocious rear seat packaging disappointed me, and it seems a lot of possible buyers too.
    However, what it was fatally flawed at 40,000 euros is rather atractive at 3,000 euros, ten years later.
    Although it´s better not to talk about V6´s fuel consumption, most of Avantimes sold in Spain were 2.2 diesels, an engine that simply didn´t suit the car.

    Reply
  4. April 13, 2012
    Simon Hingston

    Mmmmm Avantime. Really lovely cars. Thanks all.

    Reply
  5. April 14, 2012
    Renault Avantime: the return of an icon? « Ethendras's Blog

    […] reading recently on Petrol Blog, about the tenth anniversary of the Avantime’s launch, it got me thinking about  this historic model and how Renault should be using to turn their […]

    Reply
  6. April 14, 2012
    ethendras

    I read this and you spurred me on to write about the Avantime! – http://ethendras.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/the-renault-avantime/

    Reply
    • April 14, 2012
      MajorGav

      Good stuff! Thanks for the mention.

      Bring back the Avantime. 😉

      Reply
  7. May 30, 2012
    colin w

    I run mine every day…i was at Coventry from Glasgow and to date its not missed a beat…its a joy to drive and get 35 – 40 mpg on the 2 l col

    Reply
    • May 31, 2012
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      That’s good to hear. A positive note about the Avantime’s reliability.

      Reply

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