A luxury model for those seeking something different
Friday July 7th 2006
ALTHOUGH its life span was short (just three years), people looking to buy a big car should not be scared away form Renault's last flagship model, the Vel Satis.
First produced in 2002, the big MPV-like car was withdrawn from Ireland and the UK in 2005.
Renault had hoped to take a slice of the executive market by tempting owners of Mercs and BMWs to convert to their model. They failed, but that is no reason to condemn the car.
The biggest sin this car committed was its high level of depreciation. This is bad news for anyone who bought new but good news for those who want luxury and space (this car is almost five meters in length) and who don't have a fixation about a prestige badge.
The Vel Satis came here with a choice of three engines: 2.0-litre
165 bhp, 3.5-litre V6 240 bhp and a 2.2-litre
diesel, which produces 150 bhp.
The pick of the engines is the 2.2 diesel, but don't turn your nose up at the 2.0-litre petrol because the 3.5 V6 is only slightly faster from 0-60mph.
Expect to get 30mpg on the smaller petrol engine and up to 40mpg for the diesel - the V6 just does not make sense unless you are on huge travel expenses.
The big plus for the Vel Satis is its very accommodating interior. Big door apertures open up to a class-leading amount of space. The car has three trim levels: Expression; Privilege; and Intaile. The base version has six airbags, ABS, alloys, traction control, climate control, air conditioning and CD.
But don't get too fussy as to the trim level you desire, since fewer than 200 were sold here.
The Vel Satis is a comfortable cruiser. It reigns supreme on the motorway while its composure slumps on twisty roads, especially when driven at pace.
Its large stature and light steering means it lacks the precision of a smaller car for such routes.
With a five-star NCAP rating, the vehicle has a distinct identity, although it is not the prettiest car ever designed by Renault.
The Vel Satis scores on luxury, comfort, generous equipment and, in its diesel guise, economy. With the greatest part of its depreciation behind it and the small number sold making it somewhat exclusive, this big car could bring one years of happiness.