Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 1
For a race with the reputation for suave sophistication, the French were in reality quite pragmatic and this trait showed itself in the design of their cars during the 1960's and 1970's - and arguably to this very day.
The French saw no point in dressing up the cars at the lower end of the scale, and the 14 certainly won no prizes for aesthetic appeal. Its styling was perhaps rather more unusual than ugly, and in fact it did have a certain perverse charm. The intention was to produce a roomy, although not large, car with a good load carrying capacity, being both strong and aerodynamically
succeeded on all those counts.
The 14 was designed for utility and comfort rather than high speed and brisk performance. The all-alloy transverse mounted, overhead cam engine of 1281 cc produced a hardly startling 57 bhp at 6000 rpm, allowing, eventually, a top speed of nearly 90 mph - just about the sort of performance you would expect. What was unexpected, however, was the very rubbery and vague feeling of the gear lever
and linkages which made the gearbox feel like a unit from the pioneering days of front wheel drive
- uncharacteristically disappointing from Renault
The 14's suspension
and ride were excellent; MacPherson struts at the front and transverse torsion bars at the rear were set up to give long travel suspension
. It made the 14 very comfortable once you came to terms with the way the car leant through corners in a way more reminiscent of the smaller Citroens than other Renaults.
The large rear door, and the facility with which the back seats can be removed to reveal a generous load carrying platform made it easy to transform the 14 from a perfectly adequate sedan to a good wagon. Considering the success of the very conventional appearing Renault 12
, the 14 at a similar price but with added versatility should have been a sales-room success - but it failed...
"The Rotten Pear"
The 14 may not have been all that good - but it was more deserving than the advertising campaign used, which compared it to the shape of a pear. A preview at Paris' Pompidou Centre as a bare bodyshell did little to win it customers. The car would later gain a reputation for premature body corrosion which saw the 14 being dubbed as the "rotten pear" by the motoring press. In France, "La poire"' (literally "the pear", but also slang for "gullible") still refers to the 14.
However, the best-selling Renault 5 also had a reputation for premature body corrosion, but the stronger and more adequate advertising of the R5 helped boost its sales and resulted in it being a sales hit. The 14 also had a reputation for being difficult to start in damp conditions. The placement of the temperature gauge
on the transmission
tunnel behind the gear-lever, rather than on the instrument panel where it was directly in the driver's field of view, led to incidents of engine damage if the engine overheated and the driver failed to notice.
Renault 14 Quick Specifications
- Engine: Front; transverse in-line, four-cylinder. 75 mm (2.95 in) bore x 69 mm (2.72 in) stroke 1218cc (74.3 cu in). Maximum power (DIN) 57 bhp at 6000rpm; maximum torque (DIN) 68lb ft. at 3000 rpm; light-alloy cylinder block and head: Compression ratio 9.3:1.5 main bearings. 2 valves per cylinder operated by single overhead Camshaft. Solex 32 SHA carburettor.
- Transmission: Single dry plate Clutch and four-speed manual gearbox. Ratios 1st 3.883, 2nd 2.296,3rd 1.501, 4th 1.042, rev 3.568 Spiral bevel final drive, ratio 3.867:1
- Suspension: Front - independent by MacPherson struts, rear-swinging longitudinal trailing arms with transverse torsion bars and telescopic dampers.
- Steering: Rack and pinion. Turns from lock to lock 4.
- Brakes: Discs front, drums rear.
- Wheels: 4.5 in x 13 in. Tyres 145SR x 13.
- Bopy/chassis: 5 door, 4 seat. Integral.
- Dimensions and weight: Wheelbase 98.35in; track front 53.23 in, rear 54.25in; length 158.46in;width 63.94in;.height 55.31 in; ground clearance 5.97in; weight 1907lb; turning-circle 34. 8 ft; fuel tank capacity 10.6 gal.
- Performance: - Maximum speed 89 mph; acceleration 0-60mph 14.5 secs; fuel consumption approx. 31 mpg.
Renault 14 Timeline
- 1976 - R14 launched, with 1.2 litre engine on all models.
- 1979 - TS specification launched with 1.2 litre engine. R14 L and R14 TL rebadged R14 and R14 GTL.
- 1980 - New 1.4 litre engine for the R14 TS and new LS specification.
- 1982 - GTL specification given new 1.4 litre engine (different unit from 1.4 on TS and LS).
- 1983 - Production of the R14 ends, the car is replaced by the Renault 9/11.