You get the distinct impression the French are stood on the other side of the English Channel, laughing at us Brits. Thumb on nose, fingers waving, shouting na-na-na-na-nah. Alongside them is the all-new Renault Talisman – a car that will not be sold in Britain. Seriously, what did we do to upset Renault?
First they take away the Renault Laguna Coupe, which remains the best looking French car you can buy. Unless you live in Britain. We’re also denied the pleasure of the Renault Clio Estate, which includes a rather tasty looking GT version. And let’s not forget the new Espace – a car you’d have thought would do pretty well in Britain. The Renault Talisman is the latest in a long line of disappointments.
We could also mention the Renault Sandero RS, but we won’t.
Renault Talisman: rejoice, it isn’t a crossover
Instead, take a look at the Renault Talisman, which was unveiled this week at the Chantilly Gardens in France. Nice, isn’t it? A properly distinctive executive saloon that would almost certainly upstage the me-too Germans parked at Membury Services. It says ‘get out of my way’, in a uniquely French way.
If they ever do a remake of Ronin – which we sincerely hope they don’t – the Renault Talisman would be the lead car. Just imagine Jean Reno in a Talisman, one hand on the wheel, the other clutching a Gauloises.
Oh, about that name. Talisman. Probably sounds better in non English speaking nations. Over here it sounds a bit Partridge. Telling your colleagues you’ve just arrived in your Talisman just sounds wrong.
The Renault Talisman takes us back to the good old days of French car making. The days before the world became obsessed with crossovers and SUVs. Think back to the likes of the Safrane, the Vel Satis, the 25 and the 21. Unashamedly French motors, often with unique interiors and a propensity to depreciate faster than you could say electrical problems and financial ruin.
And let’s face it, we love big French cars because they become cheap motors almost overnight. Citroën C6, anyone?
You can understand the business case for not bringing the Renault Talisman to the UK. Renault’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn, may point eight million or so D-segment cars sold every year, but only a million of those are in Europe. The market will be even smaller in the UK, so why bother with a right-hand drive version?
Still, it doesn’t stop us stamping our feet and shouting ‘not fair’.
Renault Talisman: we’ll take the Initiale Paris, please
Take the interior, which looks far more appealing than anything offered by the Germans. It’s not too dissimilar to the new Volvo XC90, with its large infotainment screen and minimalist approach. Naturally, we’d want the flagship Talisman Initiale Paris, complete with Nappa full-grain leather, enveloping headrests, dashboard top stitching, heated and massaging seats and laminated side windows.
It even comes with a concierge service and a dedicated area in the Renault showrooms where the coffee tastes sweet and the girls are pretty. So you don’t have to mix it with the peasants in their Twingos and Clios. Or something.
Renault Talisman: what, no V6 engine?
Of course, the Renault Talisman is offered only with a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine offering fuel economy in the mid to low 20s. Oh wait, these are different times. There is no V6 engine. Instead, the Talisman is powered by a choice of two petrol and three diesel engines, all of which have the word ‘Energy’ in the title. Different times, lad. Different times.
So maybe it’s best to leave the Renault Talisman on the other side of the Channel. If nothing else, it will make a welcome change from the Volkswagen Passat when playing the rental car lottery game.
It just means scouring the classifieds for a cut-price executive saloon won’t be as much fun in 2025. Party poopers.