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Renault 19 RT 1993 Review

Renault hatching a plan for pleasure with the new 19 RT.

A week behind the wheel of the Renault 19 RT was 100 per cent pleasure - once certain drawbacks were overlooked. Its looks hardly reach the pinnacle of French flair, but they are inoffensive and the Renault badge always raises the interest of a motoring public suffering an overdose of Japanese cars.

Compact dimensions limit comfortable seating to four adults, although there are belts for three people in the back. Rear headroom is minimal. Probably the worst aspect is the seating position for the driver with its "Labor" steering wheel - it's left of centre. As a result, I found my left leg interfering with the steering wheel unless I adjusted the wheel height to an uncomfortable position.

Big points in favor of the 19 are the supportive front seats with their well-placed side bolsters, and the analogue dials which are classic white-on-black and easy to read. The radio/cassette player is heard through four speakers and can be removed from the car, an old-fashioned anti-theft strategy that has been superseded by security coding. The cavity is hidden from view by an annoying piece of plastic.

Remote-control central locking is convenient and includes a button on the dash to lock (or unlock) all doors in an emergency. Front seatbelts have height adjustment for the shoulder straps.

Headlights, horn and indicators are operated by the left-hand stalk on the steering column while the right-hand stalk controls the front and rear wash/wipers. Front windows are electrically operated while the external rear-view mirrors are manually adjusted.

The 19's performance is hardly going to make you wish you'd bought a G-suit, but you can enjoy your motoring. Power is a modest 68.5kW at 5250rpm and torque peaks at 140Nm at 3000rpm. The 19's compact size helps make a routine trip become enjoyable, moving easily through heavy traffic and slipping around parked cars.

When cornering, it turns in so quickly and accurately that it's hard to remember it's a front-drive car. You will have to push extremely hard to defeat the strong grip and impressive handling.

Despite its driving credentials, an asking price that gives you just $10 change from $26,000 is a bit steep.

Renault 19 RT hatchback

ENGINE: Transversely mounted, single-cam 8-valve 1.7-litre with multipoint fuel-injection. Adequate for enjoyable driving.
POWER: 68.5kW/5250rpm.
TORQUE: 140Nm/3000rpm. Modest output, but the car's secret is its handling.
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 9.2 litres/100km average on test. 55-litre tank.
SUSPENSION: Independent. Front - MacPherson struts, coil springs, lower wishbones, anti-sway bar; rear - trailing arms, torsion bar axle. Faithful communication between the road and driver through the steering wheel.
BRAKES: Ventilated discs/drums. Stopping power retained after repeated hard braking.
PRICE: $25,990 (manual sedan or hatch), auto $27,850. Add $1500 for airbag and rear headrests. Expensive when you consider this money will buy you a much bigger Falcon or Commodore.

Pricing guides

$2,765
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$1,900
Highest Price
$3,630

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
RT 1.7L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,100 – 3,630 1993 Renault 19 1993 RT Pricing and Specs
RT Plus 1.7L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $2,100 – 3,630 1993 Renault 19 1993 RT Plus Pricing and Specs
TXE 1.7L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $2,100 – 3,630 1993 Renault 19 1993 TXE Pricing and Specs
RT 1.7L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $1,900 – 3,300 1993 Renault 19 1993 RT Pricing and Specs