Advantages 7 seater, good performance, roof rails for lugggage box
Disadvantages no internal luggage space when fully occupied
This was bought for £550 to replace a diesel Nissan Serena 8 seater. Thus the difference in performance is not a fair comparison but this car can accelerate when all 7 seats are occupied and that is a delightful improvement, I have not yet tried it with a roof box but will do this summer.The seats are very comfortable, however the drivers seat is slightly offset in that there is a tendency for your body to twist to align itself with the accerelator pedal, also as the seat has lumbar, tilt, fore/aft and height adjustments combined with the steering wheel rake then finding a good driving position takes some time. The passengers seats are not designed for use with booster seats as it is very difficult to fasten seatbelts when a childs seat is used, however the middle seatbelt is a 3 point not a lap belt so this is a major plus. The legroom is adequate for the rear passengers but for the 2 seats in the boot it is limited, and I had to cut a slot in the sparewheel cover to get this seatbelt latch to sit correctly, but it is still awkward to fasten, but comes with practise. There is also a lack of ventilation for the boot passengers which may become a major problem on long trips.
The engine bay is sensibly laid out, with easy access to all the regular service points plus as I changed the oil and filter; coolant, spark plugs and air filter on purchase these parts are not expensive. After the service I did a mpg check and it worked out at approximately 34miles to the gallon, however this figure needs rechecking as I am not 100% sure of the exact capacities between divisions on the gauge. On this note there is no reserve area or low fuel light (it did not come on?) so driving to the reserve is not a good idea, as I nearly found out on my first and last attempt at getting the low fuel light to come on!The car comes with air conditioning; front electric windows; electric wing mirrors; independant lights for the front seats, and an immobiliser. However this activates 60 seconds after entering the car, thus unless you drive off promptly there is a need to cycle the door lock mechanism to disable the immobilser.
The initial problems with the car have been a fan only working on position 4, a loose connector at the fuel pump - leading to the car dying intermittently and a lack of heat from the blower. The first and last of these are common problems and the fan operation is readily rectified with a replacement thermal fuse (50p). However to fully remedy the heater problem involves removing the entire dashboard, therefore I have flushed the system and will tolerate a system with reduced operation. The fuel pump fault was rectified by re-wiring this connector and this has remedied this problem.UPDATE Aug 2007: The car has done the trip with roof box attached and passed the annual holiday with flying colours. Even with large roofbox (550 litre) attached and all available storage space filled, the car 3/4 tank mileage was reduced by only 30 miles to approx 330 miles, and handling was still stable. I only use 3/4 tank as there is no low fuel light and the gauge is non linear, thus the last quarter goes very quickly. The engine remained enthusiastic and did not struggle even with the Cornish hills, and with a fully charged air conditioning system even on the hot days travelling was pleasant and comfortable even for the children in the boot seats.
In summary I bought this car for £550 looking for a cheap car to run into the ground. I got far more than this, as I have obtained a vehicle that although 11 years old still feels very polished and refined. I would recommend this car to anyone who has a large family and needs to transport the 6 passengers on an infrequent basis. It surpassed itself during the holiday and all being well should last for a couple of years at least. However bear in mind that Renault are new model maniacs with parts being hard to identifyy and can be expensive so on a car this old always be prepared to cut your losses and move on, when one of the exotic items gives up the ghost, I await that day..so far!
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