Motoring: Why Doesn't Anyone Buy The ... Renault Safrane
The French are good at cars with soft seats and supple suspension. The French, however, are not so good at creating big cars that people actually want to buy, mainly because the Germans have appropriated the big-car template and everyone thinks that Germanic is how big cars should be. Against such a mindset, the Safrane never stood a chance.
It was launched back in 1992, and even became What Car?'s Executive Car of the Year. I know because I was a judge. It won because it was such a great stress-buster: smooth, serene and laden with gadgets. It was also the first Renault to be built to standards, and using materials, which at least tilted towards the neighbours over the Rhine. After the friable Renault 25, this was an advance.
Left-hand drive markets could have a Safrane Quadra, with four-wheel drive, and even a Safrane Biturbo with BMW-humbling pace and a lot of bodykit. But such image-builders were denied to UK buyers, because there would be too few of them to justify the effort. So, deprived of glamour, the Safrane was not a success. To buy one was to seem unthrusting, complacent, a couch potato. Secondhand values are pitiful. No wonder they make great minicabs.
In 1996, the range got a new look. There was an attempt at a distinctive "face", although the result was more Hyundai than anything else. Asked why the new look wasn't more in line with the fierce frown of the Laguna and the first Megane, Renault's then UK marketing director replied that there was no point in making the car look like a Renault because no-one would want to buy it. "Big Renaults don't sell," he said, "so we have given it its own identity."
It didn't work. There hasn't been a UK ad campaign for the Safrane in ages, and soon it will die. Its replacement will be the angular, futuristic Vel Satis, a boldly un-German saloon. Attack, after all, is often the best form of defence.
Life & Style blogs
The 10 Best Scotch Whiskies
Resurgence of TB poses grave threat worldwide
Titanfall: First-person shooter lands with a boom on Xbox One, but will it save Microsoft's console?
GIF inventor Steve Wilhite says it should be pronounced 'jif'
'Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle!' Viral Facebook links are profiting hackers
Ukip and Nigel Farage on course for remarkable victory in European elections
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Tony Benn was entirely ineffectual - and usually wrong
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Gender-specific books demean all our children. So the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex
- 3 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Did jetliner fly into area controlled by Taliban? Net widens after claims final satellite signal could have been sent from the ground
- 4 Nasa-funded study warns of ‘collapse of civilisation’ in coming decades
- 5 'Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 plane found in Bermuda Triangle!' Viral Facebook links are profiting hackers
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Charter Selection: This well respected and exciting...
£40000 - £50000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting company and market...
£40000 - £60000 per annum + EXCELLENT SALARY: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Cli...
£25,000 to £35,000: IT Connections Ltd: Signal Processing Engineer / Acoustics...