2003 Renault Vel Satis Initiale 3.0 V6 dCi Isuzu sourced 195bhp diesel from UK and Ireland


For current used price, an incredible slice of luxury, powerful motoring, in a very rare car


All four brakes needed replacing.

Steering and front suspension needed replacing.

Gearbox is generally smooth, but jolts/jerks when Drive is selected, or when setting off and the electronic parking brake disengages.

Sat nav stopped working - needed new aerial (common fault).

Air con has a mind of its own and works randomly.

General Comments:

What people often say about luxury French cars is true! As soon as I saw a pristine condition Vel Satis for sale on Autotrader and went to inspect it, I was smitten! For a start, it’s absolutely huge, very luxurious and cossetting with large captain’s chairs in the front and cricket-pitch size legroom in the back, and they are as rare on Britain’s roads as hens’ proverbial teeth.

Brushing aside the controversial-yet-lovable quirky looks for the moment, the 3 litre V6 Isuzu-sourced diesel engine pulls this heavy, tall car quite zestfully if desired. But if you’d rather pootle along gently, the Toyota-based 5 speed automatic gearbox (complete with a tiptronic-style lever, I might add!) proves to be pretty smooth for the majority of the time, aside from an occasional lurch when setting off.

A Vel Satis in this guise can be driven quite fast, whilst retaining a feeling of safety and solidity, and the car is especially suited to motorway driving. Alas, B-roads are quite a different story, as the car’s firm suspension results in a rather wallowy cornering experience and the car crashes over potholes and speed bumps.

The electrically-adjustable, heated seats, the very good Carminat sat nav system with its colour display, the voice synthesiser which tells you if something’s wrong, the 6-speed CD changer, cruise control, the huge boot and the Vel Satis’ other features at this Initiale trim spec level are features you easily get used to. As is the whole Vel Satis experience in general. Sure, the tyres for the 18” wheels are expensive, parts are hard to source and running costs are quite high, but if you want a car that you can fall in love with, and own in the knowledge that you’re one of a rare few, then this is the car for you.

And does all this come at a high purchase price? Erm, no – used Vel Satis prices average at £3,500 for examples with reasonable miles on the clock. If you love cars and you’re committed to one in the long-haul, then go on, grab yourself a used Vel Satis and then tell http://www.vel-satis.org about it.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th January, 2011

13th Jan 2011, 07:52

Great report, great car.

I love these and very nearly convinced myself to buy one, but chickened out at the last minute and bought a cheaper Omega, which ended up costing more (when the purchase price was then added to a lot of ongoing repairs) than the Vel Satis. Damn.

I like rare cars and these have a real character and atmosphere about them and are surely going to be a classic soon.

I would love a 3.5 V6 Initiale - I would LPG it.


2002 Renault Vel Satis Initiale 3.0 V6 diesel from UK and Ireland


The big french magic carpet


GPS aerial failed, so the sat nav didn't work.

Climate control panel illumination gone (fixed myself).

General Comments:

What a car this is.

I've only had the car six months, my aunt has just bought it off me (need to raise funds for the Avantime) and I will miss it A LOT.

What a bargain it was, took a chance and bought it from an auction for £1800. Obviously for that price I expected a dog, but I got a princess! It's the flagship "Initiale" model which means Carminat Satellite Navigation, full cream leather (heated and electric adjustment), Automatic Xenon headlights, climate control, Cabasse 6 CD Changer, ESP, Parking Sensors, need I go on? But the best feature of all is the voice synthesizer. A nice posh woman kindly announces any faults (none yet), fuel level low, doors open etc. Has attracted a lot of comments!

Now the looks. If you're reading this, you're probably a fan, as I am. Viewed from a distance, the car is absolutely gorgeous. The flowing french lines, 18" Villa d'Este alloy wheels and satin chrome detailing uphold Renault's excellent reputation for daring design. However, I have to confess I've found one or two angles which don't work!

The Interior. Maple wood, beige leather, automatic everything... it's like driving around in a luxury bedroom. However, creaky plastics and a few flimsy bits of trim remind you you're in a Renault!

The 3.0 dV6 automatic is an Isuzu sourced engine... so it's bulletproof. I can't see why anybody would choose the 3.5 V6 petrol. Yes, on cold mornings, there's a bit of volume outside the car, but inside you would NEVER know it's a diesel, it's very very quiet. The power and torque leaves you wanting for nothing, and does a great job of propelling this beast along while returning 35+ MPG (more than my Mégane!!!)

Now Handling. The Vel Satis doesn't do corners! It can be compared to a boat. It wallows and pitches like the Titanic, but it's all part of the character! Instead it floats along, ironing out every imperfection as it glides along the road.

Now for the dodgy issue of parts. Good news, the Vel Satis is based on the Laguna II, so that's no problem.

I'm really going to miss the "Beast" as my friends like to call it, but I just have to have an Avantime!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 18th March, 2010