It was very hard to take — as the birthplace of the modern automobile, France was left to watch the Germans and Japanese command more and more market share. The glory days were far behind, and everything coming out of France in the Eighties was front-wheel drive and cheapened in the capitalist chase.
Somehow though the French got it into their heads that they still had it, that they could still beat the Germans at their own game, and so Renault decided to create a flagship to end all flagships in pure French exhibitionist sense.
The resultant Renault 25 was quite a car — designed by Robert Opron (Citroen SM, Alpine A310, Alfa Romeo SZ) with an interior by Marcello Gandini (Bugatti EB110, Fiat X1/9, Lamborghini Countach, Lancia Stratos), the big 25 was a proper Gallic limousine with a sumptuous cabin to match and comfortable suspension plus a range of V6 engines including a turbo when ‘Turbo’ was all the rage.
Produced from 1983 to 1992 however, the Renault 25 may have been a commendable saloon even though it was front-wheel drive, but it had one problem. Namely, this was Germany’s greatest automotive era when BMW and Mercedes built over-engineered tanks that set the standard in every respect.
As a result a big, expensive, front-wheel drive French saloon had no hope of competing with 5 Series BMWs and E-Class Mercs, and today just handfuls survive. Lavishly equipped with leather, cruise control, automatic everything including hydraulically controlled suspension, the car was also prone to failing, which it did, a lot, especially if you were one of the unlucky ones with an auto-transmission 25.
Renault hasn’t tried to take on the Germans in the top saloon segments ever since.