Yesterday's post about the Renault Safrane was one of the most popular of the year. This probably says more about our love of jeopardy than it does the Safrane, but I appreciate the hits. Thank you.
Twenty-four hours later, the Renault Safrane is at home – proof that Christmas miracles do happen.
Yesterday couldn't have gone any better. On a day when many people were driving home for Christmas and a tornado blew in to install a new twister at Thorpe Park, the Safrane didn't put a foot wrong. In fact, it was superb.
It's too early to rate it as an overall ownership proposition, but on the basis of five hours behind the wheel and 200 miles, the £200 Renault Safrane might be the best car I have ever bought. It makes the £100 Renault Laguna look overpriced.
For the past 21 years, the Safrane has lived outside an immaculate three-storey house in Clapham. It's the kind of property Hollywood film producers use to represent the typical residence of a Londoner. First impressions were good.
In those two decades, the Safrane has wanted for nothing. I was presented with a file of receipts detailing the car's history in minute detail. It has never missed a service and problems have been rectified immediately. It's arguably the most pampered Safrane in the country.
Little wonder it has one of the cleanest MOT histories you're likely to see, especially at this price point. I'll be honest, viewing the MOT history online was the tipping point – I simply had to own the Safrane.
Deal done, I was thrust into the heavy traffic of West London in a car I had bought on the strength of the MOT history and my irrational desire for the French cars nobody else wants. The 200-mile journey was one thing, but any gremlins would raise their head before I reached the M3.
Comfort and joy
Within five minutes, I knew it was a good car. You'd expect a big Renault of this age and mileage (134,000) to creak, groan and moan like a French pensioner, but you'd swear this car had done half the miles. Even the interior, which has a delightful lived-in ambience, is free of squeaks and rattles.
It made it to the M3 without the temperature gauge breaking sweat, before mingling with the pre-Christmas traffic like a car half its age. The 2.0-litre engine is quite noisy at motorway speeds, and the automatic transmission is a little power-sapping when overtaking or using a slip road, but it feels strong and tight.
But the Safrane's biggest joy is its comfort. Nobody does big executives quite like the French – you can keep your precision German instruments. From the sofa-like leather seats to the supple suspension, the Safrane Executive is a fine way for merry gentlemen to travel.
Jacques Chirac would be proud
Right now, I couldn't be happier. The Renault Safrane is the perfect pre-Christmas present and I have to thank Matthew Carter for letting me know of its existence. My wife might not be pleased that I have a reputation for ‘French Car SOS’, but if PetrolBlog becomes a home for old French motors, I'll be happy.
Notice I resisted the use of ‘French Tat’ – this Renault Safrane isn't fit to the wear the badge. In fact, I can't wait to give the French Presidential Black metallic paint a polish – I have a feeling it will come up a treat.
It's early days, but from what I can see, the Safrane's biggest issue is a noisy wiper blade. It's a car I don't have to make excuses for. A car I'm proud to call my own.
Thank you for indulging my love of old and seemingly undesirable cars. I might make driving home for Christmas in a £200 car a new festive tradition. Welcome to the fleet, Safrane.