What on earth is that?! Many Vel Satis owners get asked this question, and with good reason, because Renault Vel Satis cars are a very rare sight in the UK (where the founders of this website live) and other countries.
The Vel Satis is a luxury, executive car from French car manufacturer Renault. It was launched in 2001 at the Geneva Motor Show and hit UK roads in early 2002.
The name Vel Satis comes from the words VELocity and SATisfaction – so there’s an interesting geek fact to bore your friends with!
Not everyone can get to grips with the name Vel Satis and a lot of people call it a Val Satis. Never mind!
The Renault Vel Satis was designed by Renault’s Patrick Le Quement and the intention was to make the Vel Satis look visually stunning and very different, to distance itself from executive car competition from the likes of Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW. The Vel Satis’ quirky looks certainly caused a stir and many motoring journalists described the car as ugly.
Brushing aside the controversial-yet-lovable quirky looks for the moment, the Renault Vel Satis definitely hit the mark which most French manufacturers aim to hit with at least one the models in their line-up… luxury! The Vel Satis is a very large car, make no mistake about it. Weighing 1.73 tonnes, measuring 4.86m in length and standing 1.58m tall, it is based on the same chassis as the Espace IV and Laguna II breaks away from the usual executive car mould by offering itself as more or less a saloon-MPV crossover. The boot is enormous, rear passengers will only complain about legroom is they’re over 6ft 5 (which isn’t going to happen that often!) and the car is undeniably luxurious and cosseting inside, with swathes of soft leather, heated front seats which are highly adjustable, and some of the most tasteful wood trim we have ever seen in a car, featuring exquisite marquetry.
The Vel Satis cost between £20,000 and £33,000 depending on which engine and trim specifications you chose, along with any rare options such as a sunroof or radar cruise control.
Continuing to fly the safety flag for Renault, the Vel Satis achieved 5 stars in the EuroNCAP safety tests.
Engine wise, the Vel Satis was available in four guises:
- a 2 litre turbo 16-valve turbocharged 4-cylinder petrol engine
- a 3.5 V6 24-valve petrol engine sourced from Nissan (a detuned version of the 350Z engine)
- a 2.2 16-valve 4-cylinder direct injection diesel engine
- a 3 litre V6 24-valve diesel engine (from Isuzu, as used in the Trooper)
Renault realistically aimed to sell 3,500 Vel Satis cars in the UK, but they only sold about 1,400 Vel Satis vehicles in the 3 years from 2002 to 2005, as the Vel Satis struggled to prise potential buyers away from the usual prestige car brands.
Although a facelifted version of the Vel Satis was continued on in Europe by Renault right up to 2009, they chose not to bring the facelifted car to Britain as it would have cost them too much to covert the design into RHD – which they didn’t consider viable due to the low sales figures achieved. The Vel Satis’ early retirement in the UK in 2005 means that, after only 3 years of low sales, the Renault Vel Satis is a very rare car indeed on Britain’s roads, as quite a few have been scrapped.
Used prices as of January 2011 currently average at about the £3,500 mark, balancing the car’s high running costs with its scarcity and high specification. Mileage for used Vel Satis cars at this kind of price is usually around the 80,000 miles region, although some excellent used Vel Satis examples can be found with less than 50,000 miles on the clock – and you can even occasionally spot ones with only 20,000!
We will regularly update this page with more and more general, historical, technical and even quirky information relating to the Renault Vel Satis.
So watch this Espace!