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Used Renault 19 review: 1991-1995

Renault has had a checkered history in this country.  In earlier times the French carmaker enjoyed a popular presence when its cars were locally assembled.

That was in the 1960s and '70s when Renault was at its peak with a range of interesting small cars including the popular R8 and 10, the 12 and quirky 16.  Since those heady times, however, Renault has gone through some lean times.

The 19 was launched in the early 1990s when Renault was being handled here by Volvo.  The Renault 19 is now worth considering if you're in the market for an affordable budget Euro.

Market Watch

THE 19 landed in 1991. It was a modest entry with one version, the TXE, that was offered as a roomy sedan or five-door hatch.  There was just one engine, a 1.7-litre single overhead camshaft fuel-injected four which put out a modest 69kW at 5250 revs, and drove the front wheels through either a five-speed manual or four-speed auto.

A three-tier sports pack became available in 1992. The base pack comprised of 13-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, and a sports steering wheel; the intermediate pack had 14-inch alloy wheels and low profile tyres, while the top pack also had a body kit.

A facelifted 19 was launched in 1993, offering a much expanded choice of models, the RT, RT Plus, Alize and Baccara.  All were again offered as a sedan or five-door hatch, with a mild reworking of the boxy shape, including with a new front featuring a new bonnet, grille, and headlamps.

Power came from the same 1.7-litre single overhead cam fuel-injected four. By 1993 the 69kW it put out was considered rather puny when most off its rivals boasted 1.8-litre engines punching out more power. The transmission choices were also unchanged.

The RT Plus was only available as a manual, and had alloy wheels, metallic paint, rear headrests, power mirrors and a CD player.  Black bumpers and mirrors distinguished the Alize. It also had power steering, remote central locking, four-speaker sound, power front windows and mirrors, rear head restraints, and a split-fold rear seat. Sitting atop the tree was the Baccara, which boasted everything the RT Plus had, plus a driver's airbag, and seat belt pre-tensioners.

Another upgrade came in the form of the Series 3 in 1995. That brought with it a 1.8-litre engine, and the alloys grew from 13 to 14 inches and the Alize replaced the RT.  Although the larger engine was warmly welcomed, when it was tag-teamed with the auto it had just 66kW at 5000 revs.

In the shop

The 19's performance was adequate rather than spirited, but the 1.7-litre engine was quite smooth and got the job done.  Like most French cars, the 19 had lots of wheel travel and rolled a lot, but not to the detriment of handling, which was quite precise.

The 19 wasn't a standout on any front, except perhaps for comfort, but it did everything quite well. The auto trans can be troublesome, so much so that it's better to avoid them. Parts to rebuild them aren't readily available here, and a replacement box will set you back $4000-$5000.

Parts can be a problem. Renault Australia doesn't stock parts for old models like the 19, but specialist suppliers can provide most things.  For a rewarding drive, look for a well-cared-for manual car with low mileage and a service record.

Owners' Views

Joe Boehm has had no trouble with the engine, but he knows the troubles with the auto transmission.  After being frustrated at the lack of local expertise to fix the auto, he resorted to the internet where he found parts and help to repair the transmission himself.

He also says the auto runs hot and has fixed that by fitting an external oil cooler.  Sean Coles' 1993 19 TXE five-door auto hatch has done more than 200,000km.

The bottom line

Worth a look if you're after a smooth, refined small sedan or hatch that rides superbly and handles well. Avoid troublesome automatic transmission.

Look for

  • Comfortable compliant ride
  • Assured road holding
  • Modest performance
  • Quiet and refined
  • Automatic trans meltdown
  • Parts can be hard to find

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
1995 $2,100 $4,070
1994 $1,900 $3,850
1993 $1,900 $3,630
1992 $1,900 $3,630
1991 $1,900 $3,630

View all Renault 19 pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

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

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
TXE 1.7L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $1,900 – 3,300 1991 Renault 19 1991 TXE Pricing and Specs
TXE 1.7L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $1,900 – 3,300 1991 Renault 19 1991 TXE Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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