1991 Renault 21 GTS 5-door Hatchback 1.7 petrol from UK and Ireland
A good value, comfortable and spacious family car
Front sub frame rotten at 102000 and needed urgent replacement. This is not a particularly common problem as far as I know.
Clutch is starting to get heavy, mechanic reckons it will last a while yet though.
Radiator leak at 90000 miles.
Choke knob fell off.
Some rust around the door edge and wheelarch which was repaired by a local panel beater for 85 pounds.
Blowing sound from exhaust under rapid acceleration.
Quite thin paintwork - i.e. prone to scores and scratches.
Brake judder. There seems to be a fairly common problem with brake pads/discs wearing faster than they should.
There is a bundle of wires under the top left of the bootlid, and at the cars last MOT, it failed on non working foglights, reversing lights, number plate lights, and I had also noticed that the beeper that chimed when you opened the door with the headlamps on was no longer working. As it turns out, the cause of all these problems was over time seven of the wires in that bundle had broken, due to gradual wear from opening and closing the boot.
Door weatherstrips are VERY prone to bubbling and becoming brittle, and it costs almost 50 pounds PER WINDOW to have them replaced.
Front balljoints replaced at 102000 miles.
One loose piece of trim above the wheelarch.
After owning a VW Passat, and prior to that a Volvo 440, I decided to go for a R21 because it seemed too cheap to be true, what with remote control locking, power steering,sStereo control on the steering column, centre rear armrest, seatbelt height adjustment, steering wheel height adjuster, electric windows, and electric sunroof.
I was used to top class build quality from the VW and Volvo, and I had heard rumours of poor build quality on Renaults. However, I was not all that disappointed - high quality plastic material in front of the passenger, though cheaper more brittle plastic in front of the driver.
I had also heard rumours of electrical gremlins on these cars, yet everything works. Although I must admit when people bemoan "electrical woes" in most cases it's a matter of a snapped wire, which should not be too taxing a repair for the novice home mechanic.
I find the seats comfortable, with driver's height adjust and lumbar adjust, though admittedly softer in comparison to my VW, yet I almost feel like I am settling into my favourite armchair. The steering meanwhile is slightly larger than I would like, meaning you have to adopt a "knees akimbo" position to accommodate it. The indicator stalks don't have much up and down movement and at the start, I found I often accidentally indicated in the other direction when cancelling it (i.e for a lane change)
The stereo is good quality with its 6 speakers, and those remote controls are very handy.
I have also heard of many heater problems, but have encountered none.
There is a good amount of rear space in the car, and it has a good sized boot, with a large tailgate.
All in all, the cabin environment is airy, and light, with the grey interior in my car (burgundy exterior).
The car starts well in cold, and heats up quickly. The car accelerates eagerly, and has good mid range revs - great for overtaking. Gearing is neither tall nor short - it feels just right.
I have no problems of rattles or squeaks on the move, though there is an intermittent low pitched (and admittedly quite quiet) squeal from the steering wheel on turning.
The car handles well, and gives me confidence - it feels grippy.
To me, the car gives the impression of sitting quite low, and it feels wide, and for a hatchback, it has a good deal of road presence. I like the styling from the front, and from the rear, though it looks boxy and bland when viewed side on.
Economy is fair, however it can be thirsty if pushed, as with any car.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 22nd August, 2001