Welcome back to ‘10 of the best’. You know the drill: PetrolBlog mimics the larger motoring websites and their SEO-friendly lists, but with the content nobody is searching for. Has anyone ever searched for the best Renault Safranes? Of course they haven't.
Which is why this list is destined to live out its days at the bottom of the internet, alongside ‘10 of the best motorway slip roads’ and ‘10 of the best former Little Chef buildings’.
If you've arrived here by accident, thanks for dropping by. If you're here for Safrane content, pull up a chair and pour yourself a drink – you're among friends.
The Safrane Bi-Turbo
The Bi-Turbo is peak Renault Safrane. It was based on the Safrane V6 Quadra, with Renault enlisting the help of two German companies to create a car worthy of the de-restricted sections of the autobahn. Imrscher tackled the styling, adding a new front bumper and grille, rear spoiler, round fog lights, double-spoke 17-inch alloys and an oblong exhaust, while Hartge bolted a pair of KKK turbochargers to the 2963cc V6 engine.
With power boosted to 258bhp at 5500rpm, the Safrane Bi-Turbo could hit 62mph in 7.2 seconds, before maxing out at an electronically limited 250km/h (155mph). It used the same electronically controlled suspension and four-wheel drive system as the V6 Quadra, but with shock absorbers and suspension settings specific to the Bi-Turbo.
There were two trim levels – RXE and Baccara – but the Safrane Bi-Turbo was too pricey to succeed. Given the choice of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series or a Franco-German barge, its target audience would label it ‘zu teuer’. All are left-hand drive, but PetrolBlog would love to import one...
The Safrane from Ronin
What springs to mind when you think of the 1998 film Ronin? Raspberry jam? The boathouse in Hereford? A Peugeot 406 chasing an E34 BMW 5 Series?
Draw up a list of the cars of Ronin and you'll almost certainly mention the Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL, Peugeot 605, Citroën XM and Audi S8 before you come to the Renault Safrane. It appears in the scenes set in Arles, with Sam (Robert De Niro) and Vincent (Jean Reno) travelling in the back. De Niro is on record as saying the Safrane RXE is the most comfortable car he has ever travelled in.
The Safrane from Lovejoy
It's not quite as famous as the ‘Ronin Safrane’, but the ‘Lovejoy Safrane’ is arguably the most PetrolBloggy of the pair. According to a thread on Autoshite, the Safrane was registered to Renault UK for a year, during which time it grabbed its fifteen minutes of fame. From the site: ‘The Safrane features as the police drive it up to The Swan hotel in Lavenham to arrest Lovejoy.’
The Safrane is now in the hands of Daniel Foulcer, who is looking to find a new home. He tweeted: ‘The Lovejoy Safrane is well beyond me. It's sat for a long while now due to personal circumstances and I can't bear to see it rot any further. If you or anyone you know might be interested, please get in touch. I can't let it be scrapped.’
It wears a ‘Too Good to Scrap’ bumper sticker, so you know that to do.
The Safrane with the Volvo five-pot engine
Yes, the phase two Renault Safrane was available with a Volvo five-cylinder engine. Ignore the 2.5 badges, because the 2435cc 20-valve engine should have been rounded down to 2.4; Renault was aware that these things matter in the office car park. Let's face it, the Safrane needed all the help it could get.
With just 168bhp on tap, the five-pot Safrane wasn't especially quick – it was only marginally faster than the 2.0-litre version – but it made all the right noises and came with a welcome boost in torque. Stay tuned to PetrolBlog's rubbish YouTube channel if you want to know more about the car pictured...
The Vitesse model with a trio of French Presidents
To mark the 1995 French presidential election, Vitesse created a model of a Renault Safrane RXE with a trio of figurines. It's fair to say that the car looks more authentic than the presidents. Is that Jacques Chirac, Lionel Jospin and Édouard Balladur?
Vitesse also launched a model to mark the end of François Mitterrand's premiership. The former president held office from 1981 until 1995 and was a keen supporter of Renault. Indeed, he was treated to a preview of the Renault 25 before it was unveiled to the public.
The £200 Safrane
It's now three and a half years since PetrolBlog took a chance on the £200 Safrane. A 2.0-litre Executive, bought unseen, on the last Saturday before Christmas, and subjected to a 200-mile journey home. It should have been a disaster, but it wasn't. Indeed, following an extended period of hibernation, it's now back on the road and looking splendid.
The £200 Safrane has graced the pages of Hagerty's website, and is arguably the first car people think of when anyone mentions PetrolBlog. Not that anyone mentions PetrolBlog.
The Palme d'Or special edition
Renault enjoyed a long association with the Cannes Film Festival. It all started in 1983, when the company supplied a fleet of Renault 30s to escort guests to the red carpet. Nine years later, Renault unveiled the Safrane at the event, with 45 cars supplied to replace the outgoing Renault 25.
To mark the tenth anniversary of its partnership with the Festival, Renault launched the Palme d'Or special edition. Just 910 were built, each one based on the mid-range 2.2 RT. Highlights included 15-inch Elysée alloy wheels, Twilight Blue metallic paint, Palme d'Or badges, leather upholstery, Philips audio system, automatic air conditioning and telephone preparation (a phone was optional).
Are these the best alloys fitted to a Safrane? Discuss.
The V6 Quadra for snow fun
Without the Safrane V6 Quadra, there wouldn't be a Safrane Bi-Turbo. This alone makes it worthy of a place on the list of the best Renault Safranes. That sentence was written to alert the Google search engine bots. Hello, SEO bots.
In many ways, the V6 Quadra is more PetrolBloggy than the Bi-Turbo. You get the same four-wheel drive system, a V6 engine minus the KKKs, and styling that's 100 percent French without a hint of German. With 167bhp on tap, the V6 Quadra will sprint to 62mph in around ten seconds before hitting a top speed of 133mph. Crucially, you can achieve these figures in all weathers.
Even snow. Still want that SUV?
The lesser spotted Questor
If you believe DVLA figures, the Renault Safrane Questor is extinct. Only it isn't, because PetrolBlog knows of at least one genuine Questor that's taxed and tested in the UK. It stems from a time when satellite navigation was still a novelty, especially in a car built by a mainstream manufacturer. ‘This is, to begin with, among the first cars in its sector to be equipped with a computer-controlled satellite-guided navigation system,’ was Renault's proud boast.
The Philips Carin system could show you ‘the quickest (or pleasantest) way from A to B’. If only Renault had used ‘Pleasantest’ as the name of a trim level. The Renault Safrane Pleasantest sounds perfect.
The V6 Turbo Long Cours oddball
During a visit to the Heuliez stand at the 1993 Geneva motor show, Patrick Le Quément chanced upon a sketch of a Safrane estate. Impressed by what he saw, he sent a Bi-Turbo to Heuliez with the aim of combining the comfort and prestige of a large executive car with the space and practicality of a sport tourer. The result was the Long Cours, which boasted four individual seats, blue leather upholstery, a window separating the boot from the cabin, and a glass roof.
Legend has it that the wife of Jacques Calvet, CEO of Peugeot-Citroën, turned to her husband and said: ‘Jacques, this is exactly the car we need, we must definitely order one!’ She had no idea she was on the Heuliez stand. The one-off Long Cours sold for €22,636 at an Artcurial auction in 2012. Bargain.
Photos: Renault, IMCDb, eBay, Daniel Foulcer and PetrolBlog.