Renault is one of the ‘big three’ French manufacturers along with Citroen and Peugeot and is owned by the Renault Group.
It currently enjoys an alliance with Nissan, allowing Renault access to Nissan’s electric and petrol expertise in exchange for its diesel technology.
Together, the Renault-Nissan alliance forms one of the largest car groups in the world, and represents the first time a French manufacturer has formed ties with a Japanese car maker.
Renault itself has been building cars since 1897 and has a long and illustrious history in the world of motorsport.
Today, Renault competes in Formula One and its range of road cars are often offered in ‘hot’ racing-inspired editions such as the Renaultsport and Gordini models.
Known for their Gallic, often eccentric style, Renault cars of the past have struggled to find a balance between good looks and reliability.
However, more recently the brand has improved the perceived quality of its cars and Renault now offers a package of style, build quality and low running costs across its range.
Renault’s cars range from small city cars, through family models, convertibles and large MPVs. It is particularly well known for its Clio supermini, which has been on sale in the UK in various iterations for 20 years and was the subject of the famous ‘Papa and Nicole’ advertising campaign.
Renault is also a leader in green technology. It currently offers a low-CO2 version of many of its range – identified by the eco2 badge – and has one of the most advanced electric car strategies with no less than four new electric vehicles due for launch by 2012.
The Renault Twingo is a three-door city car and represents the smallest car in Renault’s line-up. It was first released in 1992 and a second generation was introduced in 2007.
The Twingo has been subject of various special edition models, most recently when it received the famous Gordini racing colours – the first Renault car to feature the revised design.
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The Clio is one of Renault’s biggest success stories having been sold in the UK for over 20 years. The small three- or five-door supermini is one of the most stylish cars in its segment and the latest generation offers build quality as high as anything on the market.
The Clio is a perennial favourite with UK buyers, and as a result has been the subject of a sporty makeover in the shape of the RenaultSport Clio range of hot hatches.
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The small family-sized Renault Megane is the most versatile car in the Renault range in terms of body styles. In total, six different variations of the Megane are available; three- and five-door hatchback, coupe, coupe-cabriolet, estate and the performance Renaultsport option.
One of the most popular Renault cars in the UK, the Megane is perhaps best known for its distinctive rear end.
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The name may raise a few eyebrows, but Renault’s compact two-seat roadster is a new niche for the French car maker to explore, and one which will likely be popular with UK buyers.
This is because the clever folding hard-top is one of the fastest folding on the market – turning the car into an open top roadster in just 12 seconds.
It’s based on the Twingo but adds new styling to turn a few heads on UK roads. With prices starting from £15,500, it undercuts most other two-seat roadsters currently available on the market.
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Renault ScenicRenault Grand Scenic
Renault can claim to have produced the first ever compact MPV when the five-seat Scenic arrived in 1996. This led to it being voted European Car of the Year in 1997.
Since then it has been forged a reputation for being a good value, practical family car. A new Renault Scenic is expected to be influenced by the R-Space concept first revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in 2011.
Based on the Renault Scenic, the Renault Grand Scenic does exactly what the name suggests; delivers seven seats and more space than its smaller sibling.
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The Renault Laguna is the only saloon in the Renault range, and has been updated in 2011 to bring it more up to date with the rest of the Renault range.
It also comes in estate variation, and three trim levels; Expression, Dynamique and GT Line. The latter two get TomTom satellite navigation and the impressive level of equipment also includes a high-end BOSE sound system.
Even entry-level models receive a CD and MP3 player, Bluetooth, 16" alloy wheels, air conditioning and front fog lights. Prices for the 2011 Laguna start from £17,795 on-the-road.
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Renault EspaceRenault Grand Espace
The Renault Espace is a big, boxy people carrier with a clever, practical interior capable of swallowing a huge amount of luggage on top of its five well-sized seats.
Despite the vast dimensions, it also manages to look stylish and is comfortable and refined on the roads. It can be used as a family people carrier or an executive car with ease, and is one of the best value large cars you can buy in the UK.
If the Renault Espace is not big enough for your needs, the seven-seat Grand Espace is huge inside. It retains all the equipment and comfort of its smaller sibling, but adds extra seats and extra storage options.
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Renault ModusGrand Modus
The Renault Modus is a small people carrier, classed as a mini-MPV. This means it boasts small car dimensions and is more capable of navigating busy city traffic and squeezing into tight parking spaces than larger MPVs.
However, it also boasts a raised roofline to give extra headroom and a roomy boot, which can be extended thanks to sliding back seats.
Not only is it practical, it is also environmentally friendly, winning Best Small MPV in the Green Car Awards for three years in a row up to 2010.
The Grand Modus adds much more space and the sliding seats create a huge amount of room in the back. The Modus has been lauded for its smooth, relaxing drive and quirky looks.
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Practicality is the watchword for the van-based Renault Kangoo. The square rear end allows luggage to be stacked high and the car boasts a huge number of storage solutions, cubby holes and versatility thanks to its van roots.
The back seats can be folding to create a large load space for awkward sports equipment or other luggage, and the cheery, cartoony front end will appeal to those looking for something a little different in a family car.
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