Whatever happened to the Renault 25?

By rights, the Renault 25 deserves far more respect than it actually gets. Have people forgotten just what a formidable car it was or that the team responsible for the design reads like a veritable who’s who of the car design world? Or the gloriously sumptuous Baccara and Limousine versions of the Renault 25?

When I was growing up there seemed to be an awful lot of Renault 25s on the road. But by the time I was learning to drive most seemed to be either cosmetically challenged, suffering from rear suspension collapse or billowing out plumes of blue smoke. Sometimes it was a combination of all three – a rare treat for anyone lucky enough to be following one through town.

Today, according to HowManyLeft? there are 302 Renault 25s left on the road with a further 273 listed as SORN, so the 25 is hardly on the critical list – yet. But when you consider the fact that as recently as 1994 there were 46,000 on the road, you realise the executive Renault’s fall from grace has been rather dramatic. Time to start a campaign to the save the Renault 25 then?

Robert Opron's Renault 25

Why should we care? It’s just another Renault from the 1980s that by now will undoubtedly need more love and money than is probably sensible. But then it’s not just another Renault – consider the facts.

None other than Robert Opron, he of Citroën SM, Citroën CX, Citroën GS, Alpine A310 and Renault Fuego fame, was involved with the design of the car. The ‘bubble’-like rear window is pure Opron, designed to give the 25 a saloon-like appearance – critically important for executive car buyers outside of France. The feature was also used to good effect on the Fuego, albeit for different reasons.

Then there’s the interior – penned by none other than Marcello Gandini. Being sat in a cabin designed by the chap responsible for the Countach, Stratos and Miura – to name but three beautiful cars – is quite something. Even now the Renault 25 interior looks plush and inviting – especially on the top-spec models. Just the thing for a long and wafting drive through France.

Renault 25 Baccara interior

The Renault 25 was announced in 1983, but the replacement for the ageing Renault 30 wouldn’t be seen until 1984. In just about every single area the 25 was a better car than the 30. Heck, Renault was even using the ‘Renault Build A Better Car’ strapline throughout their ad campaigns at the time. The fact was, the 25 was more efficient, larger, smoother and better equipped than the car it replaced.

Naturally the Renault 25 interests PetrolBlog most when it’s in its most lavish form. The mere mention of the Baccara will result in some people shivering with excitement. And we’re not talking about the 1970s Spanish disco duo who could most certainly boogie.

The Baccara was effectively a replacement for the slow-selling but no less appealing Renault 25 Limousine, both of which offered the French take on what a luxury car should feel like. The leather interior created a Parisien gentlemen’s club ambience to the cabin, juxtaposed wonderfully by the array of electronic gadgets and gizmos. This was the period in which electronic dashboards, voice synthesisers and digital displays were avant-garde.

Regretfully there are seemingly no Baccara left on the roads of Britain, but the fact that nine are listed as SORN gives us hope. There’s worse news for the Limousine with the manual version already spiralling into oblivion – the last example disappearing once and for all late last year.

There are however two Limousine automatics wafting around the roads of Britain. PetrolBlog raises a glass of Kronenbourg to the individual who bravely soldiers on behind the wheel of his V6-powered long-wheelbase Renault 25, presumably doing his best impression of Francois Mitterand. We’re hoping a pair of Tricolores are mounted on the edge of the bonnet.

In 1992 the Renault 25 was dropped to make way for Renault’s new flagship, the Saffrane. With the exception of the 2.0-litre model, most engines had been V6s – perfectly suited to the 25’s nature. In fact, PetrolBlog would very much like an early V6i please. Although sadly now few in number, the pre-facelift models are arguably the prettiest of the breed.

Whatever happened to: the Renault 25?

What’s more, the launch flagship 2.7-litre V6i would offer the silkiest and creamiest driving experience. The top speed was 125mph and 62mph was reached in less than ten seconds. Not quick, but at least it gives you extra time to admire Gandini’s brilliant but misunderstood interior.

We’ll leave you in time honoured Whatever happened to? fashion with a look back at a classic television ad from the time. It’s easy to forget that Renault had its own Gold Blend couple back in the 1980s – two successful and wealthy individuals seemingly at home in the luxury surroundings of the 25.

We watched as the man of the house started his own business before his wife secured a high-powered job of her own. Naturally a Renault 25 was part of the package. The ad campaign culminated with the couple – now revealed as Mr and Mrs Parker – going into business together, but not before we were ‘teased’ into thinking they were heading for an amicable but painful divorce.

The ad is notable for just how delightful the Renault 25 looks in the ad. Yes we’d prefer a facelift model, but just look at that interior. Oh and have we mentioned the yellow fog lights? Wonderful.

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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.

24 comments

  1. May 15, 2013
    Rafael

    I remember well the first Renault 25s, they were rather succesful in Spain despite being imported cars (that meant import taxes, as Spain wasn´t a member of EU back in 1984). Very pretty cars, with a simple, modernist and very well detailed looks. But too plasticky inside, and with that tacky cloth upholstery that every french car had…for me it never could shake off the “french barge image”. The restyling didn´t help.
    It was a shame that the R25 didn´t deepened in that efficient, practical, “clean” and aerodynamic image, a kind of “executive car of the future”.

    Reply
  2. June 19, 2013
    D Hope

    I`ve had six Renault 25s over the years and have a Tungsten Grey 1991 25 TXI that is still on the road.
    I had a Black Cherry Baccara in a lockup awaiting restoration but sadly metal thieves broke in and took her.
    Smooth comfortable ride and simple servicing compared to todays cars,I just fell in love with them from day one.
    There are not enough enthusiasts around interested in these cars and I`m afraid they`ll all but disappear.Mine is the only 91 TXI left on the road.

    Reply
    • June 21, 2013
      Gavin Braithwaite-Smith

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      I fear you’re right about the lack of interest in the Renault 25, but there are enough fans of retro cars to ensure the remaining cars survive. And PetrolBlog will continue to fly the flag for them!

      Reply
  3. October 10, 2013
    Matt Biggs

    We, the family that is, had an R25, I cannot remember the model but it was a V6 auto and it talked, if it wasn’t happy about something. It was a very nice car. When it worked. I don’t remember the exact reasons but I think a series of French mechanical idiosyncrasies saw it spend more time at the dealer than on the road and it was gone again with 6 to 9 months. Thankfully the time the car spent at the local Renault garage prepared us well for parting ways. Any mourning was short lived, a e21 323i replaced it.

    Reply
  4. November 29, 2013
    Prab

    I currently have two 25s as part of my fleet, with a possible two more coming.

    Current line up:
    R25 TXI Non Exec Manual 1990 (very rare!)
    R25 V6 Turbo 1989 (Even rarer)
    R19 16v Phase 1 Cabriolet (v rare)

    I love these cars and I love keeping them on the road, there is a possibility A baccara will be turning up on my doorstep soon a long with a phase 1 limo

    My 25 dream started as a child, I loved my dads and to this date still think its better then the subsequent mercedes e class’s that replaced it!

    Prab

    Reply
  5. November 29, 2013
    Francis Ochan P’Akech

    Indeed, Renault 25 is the most smooth suitable car of the years. My dream is to own at least one. I here therefor reaching out to any person who will be interested to donate to me the Renault 25 Baccara. I will appreciate it so much.

    Reply
    • June 20, 2017
      taku joseph enow

      i have a renault 25, i am ready to sell, if you are interesting you can call me. i live in cameroon and my number is (237)675491466. hoping to hear from you nice day.

      Reply
  6. March 7, 2014
    kay

    I’ve just found this page about the R25’s. I owned a 1988 V6 Turbo and I still wish I had not got rid of it. I’ve owned cars since 1976 and that one by far was the best and most luxurious.

    I did plenty of comfortable miles in it, and the only problems in three years of motoring were a snapped fanbelt, a leaky selector rod on the auto gearbox, and a cooling pipe with a pin hole in it. Rather strange the last one as it was one of the metal pipes running across the engine!

    The interior was out of this world and full of really top quality leather – very quite and with the top quality philips ‘quadraphonic’ sound system, it was often referred to as being like a motorised comfy settee! The dashboard at night looked very much like an aircraft cokpit!

    Renault never did make another one comparable to it which was a shame – I’ve not owned a renault since!

    Reply
    • March 8, 2016
      Steven

      Have you any pictures of your V6 Turbo?

      Reply
  7. January 1, 2015
    Nick Ripley

    My Father ran two R25s, the second a 1989 TXE which is in his car port where it has been for a number of years. He has been dreaming of getting it back on the road, but due to age (his, not the car) he will be moving into a flat in the coming weeks, so the car has to go. If anyone is interested in getting his 25 back on the road, or even looking for some spares, please get in touch. It’ll be shame to send it to the scrap yard, but there will be no other option as we have no where to keep it…

    Reply
  8. March 6, 2015
    David

    I bought a 25 a couple of years ago, a 2.0 i Monaco { yes the lovely brown one!} its in quite good condition though it does have its faults. Still one of the most comfortable cars i have ever driven even though it is now 28 years old, its comfier and better to drive in the snow than my Clio and i’m hoping it gets through it’s mot in April.

    Reply
    • March 24, 2015
      Gavin Big-Surname

      Brown 25 Monaco – swoon!

      Good luck with the MOT. Let me know how it goes.

      Reply
      • June 21, 2015
        David

        Good news, the 25 passed it’s mot, had a few advisories but nothing serious. Can look forward to another year of wafting about in comfort!

        Reply
  9. May 22, 2015
    Michael Burke

    My Dad had a B registered Renault 25 GTS. As a child the dashboard was space age for me, looked like something from Star Trek. It left a lasting effect, any car I get in to now lets me down a little bit because newer dashboards on cars aren’t as good as this one. It also had a little sun visor above the rear view mirror – I’m at a loss as to why this isn’t in more cars. My Peugeot 3008 could definitely do with one!

    I remember though the car not being the most reliable of things. Shortly before a trip to Ireland I think the rear suspension broke meaning my first trip to Ireland was in a Vauxhall Senator. But after it seemed to work fine until it suffered from chronic overheating. At which point my Dad had enough and bought a Rover 820 – itself a lovely car. Also the fuel gauge never worked, I don’t know how my Dad never ran out of petrol.

    Now though you don’t seem them, and thats a shame. I remember reading an article saying it was the poor man’s Bentley and I’d have to agree. My Dad’s no longer with us, and I’m sat here watching For The Love Of Cars. And it’s funny what you remember or notice, because about a 10 minute drive from me theres a Renault 25 ‘G’ Registration sat on someone’s drive. I doubt it’s even moved in years. I may pay them a visit today and just ask them to remember me when they get rid of it. I can deal with the girlfriend later!!!

    Reply
    • June 17, 2015
      Gavin Big-Surname

      Good call on the little sun visor. Small detail I liked on my old Octavia vRS. As you say, more cars should have them

      Do get in touch with the owner of the 25. Always a concern that it may disappear overnight and end up at the scrapyard. Keep me posted.

      Reply
  10. June 19, 2015
    Ken Double

    Greetings from New Zealand. believe it or not. I still have the 1988 25 GTX I bought when it was three years old. It’s been through my sister and my father-in-law and back to us. As a 2.2 litre manual four it’s a long way from the Baccara, but on the other hand it still runs faultlessly. All the V6 autos I know are at the wreckers.

    The secret weapon of the 25 is its weight. The 2.2 has a very modest 123 horsepower yet the performance and fuel economy are amazing simply because the damn thing only weighs 1150kg. Combine that with a 0.28 drag co-efficient and the 16 gallon tank lasts forever. Put the back seat down and it’s got an estate-size load bay.

    I’m keeping it on the road until I run into some part I can’t get anymore, but it’s been the most reliable car I’ve ever owned. Also, kids love it, especially when it talks.

    Reply
  11. August 12, 2015
    Anthony

    It’s shame this car went; as far as Vive Le France went, it had a lovely sumptuous interior, incredible luxury grandeur, an effective and powerful optional airconditioning system in addition to it’s heating and ventilation system which pleasantly cooled you in Summer and kept you warm as toast and rapidly demisted the windows in Winter with the heater on and the aircon switched in, spacious-as-you-like rear seats, a decent big boot, an a superb sounding Philips stereo radio/cassette player.

    Reply
  12. November 29, 2015
    Richard Göbel

    Dear Gavin,

    I only just now came across your article on the Renault 25. You might be interested to know that I have owned a Renault 25 GTX, since I bought it new 28 years ago here in Spain. It has now done 166,675 Km and is in almost perfect condition. In fact it passed the last 2 years road worthy inspections with no problems. Everything works, including the airconditioning.

    The only problem I have is with the sliding roof. The metal of which is very thin and it started to rust from below. I was unable to get a new replacement, and as it started to leak I had to have it sealed shut. However I have had to have a rusting portion fixed since than, by repairing with fibre glass. I expect further problems in the future, and am not certain how it can be fixed. I would like a new one if possible, so that I can drive again with the roof open. If you have any ideas than please let me know. If you are interested than give me an address where I can send you a photo of how it looks today!

    With regards
    Richard

    Reply
  13. December 6, 2015
    Francis Ochan P’Akech

    I love this car so much and very much interested to buy at least 2. Can anyone update me of any Renault 25 available?

    Reply
    • February 1, 2016
      Dubravko

      Buying AT LEAST TWO?! must be very special car… did you get any in meantime?! if not send an email, there are some here…

      Reply
    • March 4, 2016
      graham

      If you are still looking i have a very nice , clean 25 TXI Executive Automatic. There are now none of this model showing as being on the road here in the UK, this was the last one shown as left in 2012. It has been used as a film prop car and not used since 2012. It runs and drives with good body work and a superb leather interior. The Executive has the fully loaded interior with electric seats, windows, sun roof, rear hatch release, tinted glass, voice synthesiser, high spec remote stereo, all of which work. It does however have the usual R25 problem with the speedometer and rev counter not working ( Google it and you will see its down to dry joints on the circuit board behind the clocks) this also affects the trip computer. Plenty of pictures available if needed. The car is in Essex UK. Let me know if interested. Thanks. Graham

      Reply
      • April 24, 2016
        Ian

        Do you have any photos of your Renault 25?

        Reply
    • May 16, 2017
      Sal javed

      Not sure this text is bold but i have an auto tx25 executive for sale. Lovely condition.

      Reply
  14. April 28, 2016
    Jan Derk Kampinga

    Agreed, the R25 becomes rare, but not only in the UK, but also
    in The Netherlands there are still a good number of fans who
    keep (or trying to) these nice cars on the road, both the Phase 1
    and Phase 2 models.
    You may like to check the forum-websites in France, Germany,
    Belgium, The Netherlands.

    Reply

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