Friday 14 August 2015
The Renault 4, also known as the 4L (pronounced "Quatrelle"), is a hatchback economy car produced by the French automaker Renault between 1961 and 1992. It was the first front-wheel drive family car produced by Renault.
The car was launched at a time when several decades of economic stagnation were giving way to growing prosperity and surging car ownership in France. The first million cars were produced by 1 February 1966, less than four and a half years after launch; eventually over eight million were built, making the Renault 4 a commercial success because of the timing of its introduction and the merits of its design. It was exceptionally spacious for its size, and although originally marketed as a small estate car, it is now regarded as the first mass-production hatchback car.
The Renault 4 was Renault's response to the 1948 Citroën 2CV. Renault was able to review the advantages and disadvantages of the 2CV design and come up with a larger, more urban vehicle. In early 1956, Renault Chairman Pierre Dreyfus launched this new project: designing a new model to replace the rear engined 4CV that would become an everyman's car, capable of satisfying the needs of most consumers. It would be a family car, a woman's car, a farmer's car, or a city car.
Renault launched the Renault 3 and the Renault 4 simultaneously in July 1961. The cars shared the same body and most mechanical components, but the R3 was powered by a 603 cc version of the engine while the R4 featured a 747 cc engine. This placed the R3 in the 3CV taxation class while the R4 was in the 4CV class. Actual maximum power output was claimed by Renault as 22.5 hp for the R3, and 26.5 or 32 hp for the R4, depending on price level and the type of carburettor fitted. Initially the base versions of the R3 and R4 came with a thick C-pillar behind each of the rear doors. Quarter glass was a 400 francs option for the basic R4. The extra visibility increased the weight of the vehicle, but these windows soon became standard for all R4s.
The R3 and R4 were targeted at the Citroen 2CV that employed soft springs and long wheel travel to absorb bumps on poorly maintained roads. The Renault 3 & 4 applied the same approach and two models appeared at the Paris Motor Show in 1961 on a specialized demonstration display that incorporated an irregular rolling road. Visitors could sit inside car, which remained undisturbed while the suspension absorbed the erratic bumps of the rolling road. In 1962, Renault employed the same display at the Turin Motor Show.
The basic version of the R3 was priced 40 francs below the lowest priced version of the Citroen 2CV in 1961 and featured painted bumpers and grill, a simplified instrument panel, a single sun visor, no windshield washer, and no interior door panels. This trim was also offered in the more powerful R4. The R4L with six side windows, chrome coloured bumper and grill, as well as a less spartan interior cost 400 francs (roughly 8%) more than the R4 with its four side windows. Similar as the Renault 4CV “Service” in 1953, customers shunned the basic model and in October 1962, the Renault R3 was discontinued, along with the most basic version of the Renault 4.
A "super" version (branded "de luxe" in some export markets) with opening rear quarter-light windows and extra trim was also offered. The de luxe and super versions of the R4L received a version of the engine from the Renault Dauphine giving them a four-cylinder engine capacity of 845 cc. After the withdrawal of the 603 cc engined R3, the 747 cc R4 model continued to be listed with an entry level recommended retail price, but the slightly larger-engined L versions were more popular. By 1965, Renault had removed the extra "R" from their model names: the Renault R4L had become the Renault 4L.
- engine: 4 cylinders
- capacity: 747 cc
- horsepower: 32 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 110 km/h