Renault Vel Satis, a car that the common people shouldn’t have bought, but still…no, the common people didn’t buy it. Renault Vel Satis is the most luxurious car made by Renault in the last millennium.
Renault Vel Satis is a strange-looking car and a rarity on the streets of our continent and even incontinent. Besides looking like an Espace on which a bus fell over, the infernal purchase and maintenance prices have left only a few private buyers to bother with a Vel Satis.
Who is the Renault Vel Satis for?
Vel Satis, which by the way stands for Velocity Satisfaction, was just an image exercise from Renault. The whole madness was done to fool the French government and take their money. Specifically, they wanted to build the presidential car for Jacques Chirac’s bottom. You might say it’s easy to come up with a luxury presidential car in a country where cars break down every 100 yards, but here at the top of the tree, the battle was worthy of the pubs of Ireland. The Renault Vel Satis had to do battle with the Citroen C6 and that legendary hyper-complex air suspension, as well as the giant Peugeot 607 and its acres of interior space.
So how did the Vel Satis become the presidential car?
You don’t have to be a graduate of the “Vetii School” to realise just how comfortable this car is. What’s more, you don’t drive a Vel Satis – you command it. On top of that, it came with an impressive arsenal of electronics and was the first Renault car to come with Adaptive Cruise Control. You may not be that impressed by this detail, but the Vel Satis was launched in 2002, and the world’s first car with this technology came in 1999, Mercedes’ renowned W220 S Class. In fact, the Vel Satis sits somewhere between the E Class and the S Class, except it doesn’t have the right badge and it also has a look that makes you cry. It’s the kind of car you either like or don’t. There’s no middle ground on a Vel Satis.
The Renault Vel Satis’s latest party piece was on the anti-noise side. It’s a very strange experience to drive a Vel Satis diesel because the engine is so quiet you think it’s petrol. It’s not the most reliable or powerful, but it’s incredibly quiet. Yes, it’s built on the platform of the Laguna II and Espace IV, but so much has been invested in this car that it’s like comparing garlic soup to the cream of cauliflower and saffron soup. An exclusive car, for exclusive people.
Renault Vel Satis Engines
- 2.0 Turbo F4Rt of 170 horsepower – A great engine for those who want to go to the psychiatric ward. Eats coilpacks regularly and late in life develops an appetite for oil, but overall it’s a normal, civilized engine for reliability. A great engine for those who want something decent and refined, but aren’t rushing anywhere.
- 3.5 V6 of 241 horsepower – Yes, ladies, gentlemen and everything in between, the Renault Velsatis has the same engine as the Nissan 350Z. A surprisingly reliable engine that only suffers from oil incontinence and, on rare occasions, can fire up more like a college student who’s had 5 beers and is ready to take on the bouncers at the entrance.
- 2.0 dCi M9R of 150 and 175 horsepower – The same 2.0 dCi was stolen from Nissan and mounted in the Renault Koleos, this engine has one point of interest. The timing chain needs to be checked every 40,000 km because it’s so quiet that if it’s worn or jumped out you can’t hear anything. You don’t want the timing chain jumping in the engine because you’ll be left like the dentist – no money and in pain.
- 2.2 dCi G9t of 115, 140 and 150 horsepower – A dubious engine in terms of reputation. Some say it would be reliable. Some say it would be a disaster. All we know is that it’s not Stig’s favourite engine, that it needs the EGR valve cleaned constantly and that the turbo is more reluctant to work than an employee on the night shift in August, but you’ve essentially got a van engine so you shouldn’t worry too much.
- 3.0 dCi V6 P9X of 177 and 180 horsepower – The 177 horsepower version from before 2005 comes with a built-in stove and has a habit of overheating the engine from the start. The post-2005 version has largely solved this problem, so all you are left with is a damaging EGR, injectors made of paper, engine mounts made of scrap metal and a high-pressure pump that at the first drop of inferior quality diesel goes on strike and protests, like a true Frenchman.
Renault Vel Satis General Issues
- The main issue with the Renault Vel Satis is the complexity of the electronics. There are so many systems and options that you’ll be best friends with the mechanic if you insist that all the buttons and functions are functional. Moreover, there are so many electronics in this car that the battery has a short and tortured life.
- The front suspension isn’t the brightest, or rather not strong enough for the Vel Satis. Bearings, bushings, shock absorbers and all that craziness.
- Then comes another big problem and that is exclusivity. Good luck finding mechanics who will mess with a Renault Vel Satis, including dealerships. A luxury, niche car that nobody bought. You might have to travel long distances to find specialist workshops and you will have to wait years for dedicated Vel Satis parts to come in.
Renault Vel Satis Verdict
An exclusive car for exclusive people. If you buy a Renault Vel Satis, it’s the kind of car you buy and keep until you get your hand through the bodywork, because you won’t be able to sell it anytime soon. That’s if you can afford it, but at least you’ll buy it cheaply because prices are dropping like a sack of potatoes from the attic. But for the short time you’ll spend with a Renault Vel Satis, you’ll really feel like a president or atleast some minister.
Which engine do I recommend? If you don’t want to end up in a mental institution and financially slim-fit, then the 2.0 dCi diesel remains the most balanced option for such a heavy and complex car.