Renault 18

The Renault 18 is a large family car produced by French manufacturer Renault between 1978 and 1989, with South American production continuing until 1994. It formed the basis for the closely related Renault Fuego Coupé, with which it shared its floorpan and drivetrain, but with the Fuego initially using the negative offset type front suspension from the larger Renault 20/30, which became standardized across the 18 range from the 1983 model year onwards.

Renault 18
R18 American av.jpg
1984 R18 "American 2" special edition (France)
Also calledRenault Sportwagon (North America)
AssemblyBoulogne-Billancourt, France
Santa Isabel, Argentina (Renault Argentina)
Heidelberg, Australia
Los Andes, Chile
Envigado, Colombia
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Ciudad Sahagún, Mexico
Casablanca, Morocco
Pitești, Romania
Novo Mesto, Slovenia
Valladolid, Spain
Montevideo, Uruguay
Mariara, Venezuela
Body and chassis
ClassMid-size car / Large family car (D-segment)
Body style4-door sedan
5-door station wagon
LayoutFF layout
RelatedRenault Fuego
Transmission4/5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase2,440 mm (96.1 in)
Length4,390 mm (172.8 in)
Width1,690 mm (66.5 in)
Height1,400 mm (55.1 in)
Curb weight940 kg (2,072 lb) (base)
PredecessorRenault 12
SuccessorRenault 21
Eagle Medallion (North America)


The Renault 18 was intended as a replacement for the Renault 12, which, having been in production since 1969, was beginning to show its age by the late 1970s, though the 12 was kept in production alongside the 18 until 1980. Unlike the earlier car, the 18 was designed quickly; the time between its initial conception and its actual launch date was only eighteen months, primarily due to the fact that the 18 was based upon the 12's underpinnings. Production peaked early: 1979 was the R18's biggest year, after which sales began a gradual decline. Originally, the 1.4 was the most popular model, but this soon changed to the 1.6. By 1986 the largest, 2-liter engine represented the biggest portion of production.[2]

Although Renault made numerous forays into international markets in countries such as Argentina with the 12, their first true "world car" was their 18, hence the slogan Meeting International Requirements, which (as well as in France) would later be produced in ten other countries and four continents around the world. In 1981, the Renault 18 was selected by India's massive public sector car manufacturing project Maruti Udyog to be built there at a rate of 100,000 cars per year - including a pickup truck version meant to compete with small Japanese trucks.[3] However, after closer review and at the direction of Rajiv Gandhi (who had always wanted to build a small people's car) it was determined that the economics did not make sense and that a smaller, cheaper car would be the better option.[4] Maruti instead linked up with Japanese Suzuki to build the subcompact Alto under license.

Renault EveEdit

The Renault 18 also formed the basis for the "Renault Eve" research car.[5] This experimental fuel efficient concept car, powered by a 1.1 L engine from the R5, featured then state-of-the-art microcomputer microprocessor, an array of specialized sensors, an electronically controlled carburetor, continuously variable automatic transmission, as well as aerodynamics and use of lightweight materials.[5][6][7] The project was sponsored by the French government.

Initial rangeEdit

The Renault 18 went into production at Renault's Flins factory in France in December 1977. It was presented at the Geneva Salon in March 1978, with marketing and sales starting the following month.

Renault 18 saloon

Initially, the R18 was only available as a four-door saloon, in TL, GTL, TS and GTS trim variations. The TL and GTL were powered by the 1397 cc Renault Cléon petrol engine (which was developed from the 1289 cc engine from the Renault 12), which produced 64 PS (47 kW; 63 hp). Both models had a four-speed gearbox. The TS and GTS were powered by the 1647 cc A-Type engine (which was the same as used in the Renault 17 TS) but without the fuel injection, which lowered the output to 79 PS (58 kW; 78 hp). The TS had a four-speed manual gearbox, while the GTS had a 5-speed manual gearbox, with optional 3-speed electronic automatic transmission available for both models. The automatic versions of the TS and GTS models were called the TS Automatic and GTS Automatic to distinguish them from their manual transmission counterparts. Assembly of the Dacia 18 began in Romania in 1978, but in a very small number (less than 100 ), mainly for the state. It was intended as a replacement for DACIA 1300, a model derived and based on Renault 12, but the licence and production between Dacia and Renault ended in 1979, so it was dropped. It was also presented at TIB'78, TIB meaning "Târgul Internațional București" (International Bucharest Fair).[8]

The 18 was Renault's first car to use the 1.4 L Cléon engine in the medium-size car sector. The Renault 18 also used three-stud wheels (similar to those of the Citroën 2CV), rather than the four- or five-stud wheels common on most of its contemporaries. In 1980 Turbo and Diesel R18 models came fitted with four-stud wheels (necessitated by using suspension parts and wheels from the larger R20 and Fuego),[9] with all versions using four-stud wheels from the 1983 facelift onwards.


Deliveries began early in April 1978 and sales in the United Kingdom began just before Christmas. On the British market, it was designed to compete with the market leading Ford Cortina, Morris Marina, Vauxhall Cavalier and Chrysler Alpine – with all of these cars except the Alpine featuring rear-wheel drive. It was initially hugely successful on the UK market, peaking in 1980 as the tenth best selling car there with over 30,000 sales, but sales declined over the next few years in the face of new British-built competitors in the shape of the Ford Sierra, Vauxhall Cavalier, and Austin Montego.

The first changes were announced for 1979 at the Paris Motor Show in October 1978.[10] Rear-seat belts were now fitted as standard, and a manual choke replaced the automatic one with which the car had been launched.[10] The station wagon as well as a new basic model, called simply the "Renault 18", were introduced. Also new for 1979, the 18 Automatic became a separate model (with GTL trim) rather than simply a transmission option.[11] A year later, all production models were outfitted with a new alternator that included a built-in electronic regulator. In July 1980, the 18 Diesel model was added.[11] This model was mechanically similar to the Renault 20 Diesel, and was equipped with a 2068 cc (126.2 cu in) engine (rated at 49 kW (66 PS)), negative offset front suspension, and larger four-stud wheels. The diesel-engined 18s came in two trim levels: TD and GTD. The basic TD (which was available as both a saloon and estate) had a four-speed gearbox and the equipment level of the TS, while the GTD (which was exclusively available as a saloon) had a five-speed gearbox and an equivalent equipment level as the GTS. Power-assisted steering was optional on the GTD, while a five-speed gearbox was optional on the TD. Diesel model sales never reached thirty percent of the overall annual production.[12]

1981 Renault 18 Turbo

The 18 Turbo model was introduced in September 1980, borrowing from other Renault models.[11] The 18 Turbo featured a 1565 cc (95.5 cu in) engine rated at 110 PS (81 kW), five-speed gearbox, negative offset front suspension, four-stud alloy wheels, rear spoiler, dashboard and interior fittings from the Renault Fuego. A little later yet, a Turbodiesel version arrived; it had an 88 PS (65 kW) version of the 2.1-litre inline-four fitted to the TD/GTD and at the time it was the fastest car in its class. However, it soon had to compete with newer and quicker performance versions of the Vauxhall Cavalier (Opel Ascona) and Ford Sierra.[13]

Model year 1982 saw the introduction of several changes to the entire lineup of 18 models, shown in late 1981: the negative offset front suspension, previously available only on the Turbo and Diesel models, was made standard. The front indicator lenses were changed from orange to clear, bumpers and door handles were switched from chrome to black polyester, and the seats were restyled to provide more space in the rear seats.[11] Model-specific changes included the available option of a five-speed gearbox on the TL; the GTL received an "economy-tune" 73 PS (54 kW) version of the 1647 cc (100.5 cu in) engine, as well as a five-speed gearbox, higher final drive ratio, electronic ignition and an "economizer" gauge. The TS and GTS version were discontinued.[11] A two-litre model entered production, for export only until late 1983.[2]

A special edition, the R18 "American" arrived in 1983. Limited to 5200 examples (1500 in the UK), it had a special black over silver two-tone paintjob and lots of "American-style" luxury equipment such as alloys and a plusher interior.[14] It received the lower powered 1.6-litre engine and sold well enough that an "American 2" appeared in 1984. This version also featured central locks, a radio, and a choice of four colour schemes, and was built in 14,000 units (8000 for France and 6000 for the rest of Europe).[15]

The "Type 2" was introduced in April 1984. The grille was changed and all models gained a front air dam, while the saloons also received a standard rear spoiler. The three-stud wheel rims were replaced with the larger four-stud wheel rims (with the Base, TL and TD just having center caps, and the GTL, Automatic, GTS and GTD all having full wheel trims). The biggest difference, however, was that the dashboard was replaced by that of the Fuego.[16] The 2-litre GTX model was introduced in France in the fall of 1983. Subsequent years saw fewer changes to the 18 line, in preparation for the launch of the Renault 21 early in 1986. For 1986, a limited range was sold as the "18 Gala" in France, with the Turbo model discontinued during 1985 (only about 650 Turbos were built that year).[2] July 1986 marked the end for the R18 in France. Production continued in Latin America until 1994, however, and the R18 also continued to be manufactured in France with the 2-litre petrol engine until 1989 for export only.

Estate modelEdit

1980 Renault 18 TL Break

By the late 1970s, European production of the Renault 12 was being gradually wound down, followed by the arrival of the estate versions of the Renault 18 on 1 March 1979. The R18 Estate ("Break" in French-speaking countries, Argentina, and some other markets) was only available in TL, LS and TS model variations, except in Australia where all Australian-assembled Renault 18s, sedans and station wagons, were GTS. 18i The station wagons provided comfortable seating for five, as well as featuring a folding rear bench seat that offered up to 65.5 cubic feet (1.85 m3) of cargo area with a 5.5-foot-long (1.68 m) flat floor and this carrying capacity was assisted by variable rate rear coil springs with long travel shock absorbers.[17]

They were otherwise mechanically identical to their saloon counterparts. The estates were identical to the saloons in equipment, except that the TS estate additionally featured shock-absorbent bumpers, door mouldings, and front seat head restraints from the 18 GTL saloon. The estate proved almost as popular as the saloon.

In Germany the Break was originally marketed as the "Variable", after the Type 2 facelift it became the "Combi". In the Netherlands, it was called the "Stationcar", while it was sold as the "Familiar" in Spain. In the United States, it was marketed as the "Wagon", more commonly "Sportwagon".[17]

U.S. marketEdit

Renault 18i (Canada)

American Motors Corporation (AMC) had established several assembly and marketing agreements with Renault since the 1960s, and a financial partnership in 1979 that evolved into the French firm's holding a controlling (46 percent) stake in the smallest U.S. automaker. One aspect of AMC's strategy included marketing a larger-sized front-wheel-drive automobile.

The Renault 18 was re-engineered for the U.S. and Canadian markets. Modifications for the U.S. market included more stringent emissions controls, larger bumpers designed to withstand 5-mile-per-hour (8 km/h) impacts, two-tone paint, uncovered sealed-beam headlights, as well as different hubcaps and interior trim.[11] The U.S. and Canadian version of the 18 was the first Renault about which critics claimed the Frenchness had been taken out.[18]

Being fuel injected, the four-door was sold by AMC dealers as the Renault 18i from the 1981 and 1982 model years, and the station wagon (estate) body style as marketed as the Sportwagon from 1981 to 1986.

A four- or a five-speed manual was available, or a three-speed automatic.[19] When introduced, the fuel injected (Bosch L-Jetronic), 1647 cc straight-four offered 82 hp (61 kW) at 5500 rpm in federalized trim.[19] Fuel economy figures for 1982 were 38 mpg‑US (6.2 L/100 km; 46 mpg‑imp) highway and 25 mpg‑US (9.4 L/100 km; 30 mpg‑imp) in the city.[17] The American versions were also considerably longer, thanks to the larger bumpers, at 178.7 in (4540 mm) for the sedan and 181.5 in (4610 mm) for the wagon.[19]

For the 1987 model year, the Sportwagon was replaced by the Renault 21's U.S. and Canadian equivalent, the Eagle Medallion.

Assembly in AustraliaEdit

Starting in 1980, the top-of-the-line Renault 18 GTS saloons and estates with right-hand drive were assembled in Heidelberg, Australia by Renault Australia from CKD (Completely Knocked Down) kits imported from France.[20]

South American marketsEdit

This Renault 18 GTX finished seventh overall in the 1992 Rally YPF Argentina

In Argentina, Colombia, and Venezuela, there were versions that included the TX and GTX. The TX being the initial 1982 model, featuring the Douvrin 2.0 L four-cylinder powerplant, a first for a production 18 worldwide (there was a need for a powerful car to replace the Renault Torino luxury-sports range). There was also the GTX-II, featuring a basic on-board computer that displayed fuel consumption, etc. It was available with 1.6 L (TL), 2.0 L, and 2.1 L diesel engines. For 1993 only, a 110 PS (81 kW) 2.2 L engine was installed in the GTX-II. In Uruguay, production began in 1982 and lasted until 1994. Uruguayan cars had Argentinian bodies and engines imported from France.[21]

The Renault 18 GTX was also rallied in South America by Renault of Argentina, following the various competition successes of the earlier 12 TS.

Trim levelsEdit

Index name Production years Engine size Notes
Renault 18 TL 1978–1986 1397 cc Specification includes:

Two-speed wipers
Intermittent screen wipe
Electric screen washers
Volt meter
Engine coolant temperature gauge
Fuel gauge
Six-figure mileage recorder
Trip recorder
Handbrake warning light
Defective front brake discs warning light
Day/night position for interior rear view mirror
Rheostat for adjusting brightness of dashboard lights
Illuminated ashtray, heater panel, boot and glove box
Heated rear screen
Anti-dazzle headlight adjustment
Adjustment for direction of headlight beam
Cigarette lighter
Driver's side sun visor
Passenger's side sun visor
Vanity mirror in passenger's side sun visor
Full carpeting
Cloth upholstery
Front armrests with grab handles
Rear armrests
Ashtrays in the rear doors
Childproof rear door locks
Passenger's side interior courtesy light
Front door pockets
Center console incorporating coin tray
Reclining front seats
Loudspeakers in front doors

Renault 18 GTL 1978–1986 1397 cc (1978–1982)
1647 cc (1982–1986)
Specification of TL plus:

Foam-filled steering wheel
H4 iodine headlights
Quartz clock
Velour upholstery
Styled wheels
Driver's side interior courtesy light
Map reading light for front seat passenger
Remote-adjustable driver's side door mirror
Rear fog lights
Headlight wash/wipe system
Pre-installation radio equipment
Shock absorbent bumpers
Adjustable front seat head restraints
Black rubber protective side mouldings

Renault 18 LS 1979–1981 1647 cc Specification of TL, but sport-oriented
Renault 18 TS 1978–1982 1647 cc Specification of TL, plus:

Foam-filled steering wheel
H4 iodine headlights
Quartz clock
Velour upholstery
Styled wheels
Driver's side interior courtesy light
Map reading light for front seat passenger

Renault 18 GTS 1978–1983 1647 cc Specification of GTL, plus:

Electric front windows
Central locking

Renault 18 TD 1980–1985 2068 cc Diesel TL trim level with diesel engine, 2.1-litre
Renault 18 GTD 1980–1986 2068 cc Diesel GTS trim level with diesel engine, 2.1-litre


A total of 2,028,964 Renault 18s were built in France alone. The R18 was replaced by the Renault 21 saloon and Nevada/Savana estate starting in 1986. The U.S. market successor for 1987 was the Eagle Medallion. The Renault 18 was withdrawn from the remaining European markets by 1989. It remained in production in South America into the mid-1990s. The last Argentinian Renault 18 rolled off the production line in 1993, after a total of 132,956 units were built in Argentina alone.

It was launched on the British market in December 1978 but was discontinued there in July 1986. Sales were initially strong, peaking at over 30,000 in 1980 when it was the tenth best-selling car in the UK and the most popular foreign model; but declined over the next few years as new competitors arrived from Ford, Vauxhall, and British Leyland.

The Renault 18 was built in Colombia until 1994.

As of 2018, just 30 Renault 18s were taxed and on the roads in the UK.[21]


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  2. ^ a b c "Evolution". Renault 14 & 18 (in French). Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  3. ^ Bhargava, R. C.; Seetha (2010). The Maruti Story. Noida, India: Collins Business. pp. 17–18. ISBN 9788172237806.
  4. ^ Bhargava and Seetha, pp. 19-20
  5. ^ a b Norbye, Jan P. (March 1982). "Renault's experimental 57-mpg computer car". Popular Science. 223 (3): 90. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
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  7. ^ "Prototype EVE". (in French). Retrieved 30 January 2018.
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  11. ^ a b c d e f "Salon 1981: Toutes les Voitures du Monde". l'Auto Journal (in French). 15: 32. September 1981.
  12. ^ "En chiffres" [In numbers]. Renault 14 & 18 (in French). Archived from the original on 19 June 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2016.
  13. ^ "Renault 18 Turbodiesel e Diesel". Quattroruote (in Italian). Editoriale Domus. 29 (347): 180–181. September 1984.
  14. ^ Bergon, Nicolas. "Renault 18 "American"". Autos séries limitées (in French). Archived from the original on 23 July 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  15. ^ Bergon, Nicolas. "Renault 18 "American 2"". Autos séries limitées (in French). Archived from the original on 5 October 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  16. ^ Quattroruote (Sep. 1984), p. 182.
  17. ^ a b c "Renault presents the remarkable Sportswagon (advertisement)". Ski. 45 (7): 25. Winter 1981. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  18. ^ Cranswick, Marc (2001). Cars of American Motors: An Illustrated History. McFarland. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-7864-4672-8. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
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External linksEdit