The History Of Renault 25

The Renault 25 is an executive car produced by the French automaker Renault from 1984 to 1991. The most luxurious and upmarket Renault ever at the time, it placed second in the 1985 European Car of the Year contest. Though the 25 in beginning had some reliability (electronic) problems (particularly in models built before the car's 1988 revamp) it was consistently a reasonably good seller in its native France, despite failing to challenge the dominance of German brands in the executive car sector in the rest of the European markets. All 25s were built in Sandouville, near Le Havre, France.

Introduced in late 1983 as a 1984 model, the Renault 25 was a large step forward in nearly every aspect from the Renault 20 / Renault 30 range it was replacing. Its five-door liftback body was penned by designers Gaston Juchet and Robert Opron of Citroën SM fame, and the unconventional style (the wraparound rear window was its most famous feature) was aimed at giving the car a notchback look in order to overcome customer preference outside France for formal sedans in the segment.

The 25 was one of the first cars designed from the start for aerodynamic efficiency; its drag coefficient (Cd) was 0.31, a key factor in improving fuel economy. The TS model briefly held the unofficial title of "world's most aerodynamic mass-production car" with a Cd of 0.28, and at its launch the 25 was easily the best in its class for fuel economy.

All Renault 25 models were front-wheel drive, with four or six-cylinder engines mounted longitudinally forward of the front axle. The 25's performance was above average for its class, with the V6 Turbo specification a match for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series.

The 25 was praised for its ride comfort and spirited handling (despite slight understeer, and torque steer on V6 Turbo models). A newly designed manual transmission drew unanimous praise for its precision and smoothness, and though the futuristic interior designed by Italian designer Marcello Gandini (of Lamborghini fame) was controversial, the 25 was highly regarded for its quiet, spacious and well-lit passenger compartment.

Equipment levels were high and set new standards for French cars, the 25 including among other features, an express-up and down feature on the driver's power window, voice alerts, and one of the world's first steering-wheel-mounted stereo controls. For the first time since World War II, Renault had a realistic chance of breaking into the full-size market segment outside of France.

Build quality problems

This grand vision was diminished by low build quality in the 25's first three years of existence. Repeated, unpredictable breakdowns and electronic problems, combined with indifferent or uncooperative customer service hurt export sales. On the other hand, the French customer attitude of national preference gave Renault an opportunity to turn the 25's fortunes around. The arrivals at the helm of Renault of Georges Besse and Raymond Lévy (the latter famously acknowledging quality issues by stating in a public interview that his company-issued 25 was in the shop once a month) marked the turning point in terms of build quality and brought at last the market's gaze back to the car's many strengths. Though it was too late to turn the situation around outside France, the 25 sold very well on the domestic market.

Renault 25's less durable part was the automatic transmission. The automatic transmissions were used on R25: MJ3, 4141, both 3-speed, and a new 4-speed AR4, later used on Safrane as AD4/ AD8. As a result, most of the 25's in service today are 5-speed manual because only few autos have survived. Transmission itself was not that bad, poor quality and design of the ATF cooler, however, especially on the later AR4, resulted in one-of-the-worst automatic transmissions built reputation. The leaking ATF cooler meant quick transmission death without any warning, except for ATF stains beneath the vehicle to which not all drivers paid attention or not quickly enough. The results were disastrous. First transmissions started failing within few years, that is while R25 was still in production. Renault then prepared a package that was to replace the original poor-quality cooler and the change was set to critical regardless vehicle age and mileage, however fatal cooler location in front of the right wheel could not be changed. It is extremely difficult, if ever possible, to find good AR4 today.


A major facelift in 1988 (new front end, taillights, interior materials, and front suspension) and the introduction of more powerful engines enabled the 25 to hold its own against new domestic competitors (Peugeot 605 and Citroën XM) introduced in 1989. Production of the 25 stopped in 1992 to make way for the Renault Safrane but sales were still solid, particularly for 4-cylinder gasoline-fueled versions. In view of the poor market performance of the 25's successors (Safrane, Avantime, Vel Satis), it can be said that the 25 may have been Renault's best full-size car of the post-World War II era.

25 in the used car market

The 25 was sought after as a used car in France throughout the 1990s, thanks to the body's good resistance to rust and the above-average longevity of all 4-cylinder engines.

Related models

Eagle Premier/ Dodge Monaco

The Renault 25 was partly the base of the American-market Renault Premier (eventually branded as 'Eagle Premier after the sale of American Motors (AMC) to Chrysler in 1987) in the U.S.. The Premier carried over the 25's doors and key mechanical components (its chassis and suspension, however, came from the Renault 21). The interior was designed by American Motors while the rest of the car was styled by Giorgetto Giugiaro. From 1990 to 1992, Chrysler also sold a rebadged version as Dodge Monaco.

Renault 25 Limousine

An extended-wheelbase version of the initial Renault 25, called the Renault 25 Limousine, was offered. It was 22.7centimetres (8.9in) longer than the standard car and was available in two variants. The standard 25 Limousine had the same rear bench seat of the standard-wheelbase model whereas the Executive version had two individual seats with electric adjustment. The Limousine (only available as 2.7V6 for right hand drive markets) was dropped from Renault UK's range within two years of its 1985 introduction, but continued in other European markets.

Coach Builders such as Boonaker provided bulletproof variants as well as fitting 2.5V6 Turbo engines.

Trim levels

French-market specifications

  • Level 1: Power steering, front power windows, and sound system optional. No side body cladding or rear-window wiper. Single-beam headlights.
  • Level 2: Power steering, front power windows, 2-speaker stereo, side body cladding, and rear-window wiper standard. 2 x 6W sound system with steering-wheel-mounted controls (specially designed by Philips for this model) optional.
  • Level 3: Front and rear power windows, power mirrors, and 2 x 6W Philips sound system standard. Trip computer and digital fuel gauge on gasoline versions. Anti-lock brakes, air conditioning, and 4 x 20W Philips sound system with steering-wheel-mounted controls optional.
  • Level 4: 4 x 20W Philips sound system and express-up/ down driver's power window standard. Dual-beam headlights.
  • Level 5: Air conditioning, leather interior, anti-lock brakes, 7-way power front seats, adjustable rear headrests, and elm wood inserts (door panels, gear shift knob) standard.


(French-market specifications unless indicated otherwise. Allhp metric.)

Petrol engines

  • 2.0L carbureted 8v I4 103hp (77kW) TS (1984-92, trim level 1) and GTS (1984-92, trim level 2). Top speed: 182km/ h (113mph)
  • 2.0L fuel-injected 8v I4 120hp (89kW) (107 with catalytic converter on export versions) TX (1987-88, trim level 2; 1989-92, trim level 3) and TXE (1990-92, trim level 4) Top speed: 195km/ h (121mph)
  • 2.0L fuel-injected 12v I4 136hp (101kW) TI (1991-92, trim level 3) and TXI (1990-92, trim level 4) Top speed: 203km/ h (126mph)
  • 2.2L fuel-injected 8v I4 124hp (92kW) GTX (1984-89 on all markets, trim level 3; 1990-92 for export only, trim level 4) Top speed: 195km/ h (121mph)
  • 2.2L fuel-injected 8v I4 110hp (82kW) GTX (1984-89 on all markets, trim level 3; 1990-92 for export only, trim level 4) Top speed: 187km/ h (116mph)
  • 2.7L fuel-injected 12v V6 144hp (107kW) V6 Injection (1984-88, trim level 4) Top speed: 201km/ h (125mph)
  • 2.9L fuel-injected 12v V6 160hp (120kW) (153 with catalytic converter after 1990) TX-V6 (1991-92, trim level 3), V6 Injection (1989-92, trim level 4), and Baccara (1989-92, trim level 5) Top speed: 212km/ h (132mph)
  • 2.9L fuel-injected 12v V6 152hp (113kW) TX-V6 (1991-92, trim level 3), V6 Injection (1989-92, trim level 4), and Baccara (1989-92, trim level 5) Top speed: 208km/ h (129mph)
  • 2.9L fuel-injected 12v V6 139hp (104kW) V6 Injection (1987-88) Top speed: 199km/ h (124mph)
  • 2.5L fuel-injected 12v V6 turbo 182hp (136kW) V6 Turbo (1985-90, trim level 4 with model-specific steering wheel, rims, colour coded bumpers (not available on any other PH1 car) and grille until 1989). Top speed: 225km/ h (140mph)
  • 2.5L fuel-injected 12v V6 turbo 205hp (153kW) V6 Turbo (1990-92, trim level 4) and V6 Turbo Baccara (1990-92, trim level 5) Top speed: 233km/ h (145mph)

Diesel engines

  • 2.1L 8v I4 65hp (48kW) TD (1984-88, trim level 1) and GTD (1984-92, trim level 2) Top speed: 155km/ h (96mph)
  • 2.1L 8v I4 88hp (66kW) Turbo-D (1984-92, trim level 3) and Turbo-DX (1984-92, trim level 4 except no express-up/ down driver window before 1989) Top speed: 172km/ h (107mph)

Renault 25 in Australia

The 25 was also exported to Australia. Introduced in 1985, it sold for AUS$35000, but it did not include a rear window wiper, central locking, or cruise control. It also featured a disc-drum brake setup, rather than a 4-wheel-discs as were found on the Renault 8 in the 1960s.

Renault 25 in the UK

The R25 was exported to the UK from early 1984, where its practical hatchback bodystyle helped it to stand out when compared with conventional saloons like the Vauxhall Carlton. The marketing included a series of television advertisements featuring a successful middle-class couple for whom being able to own the Renault was a key goal in their important life choices.

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