Renault 18

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Renault 18
'81-'82 Renault 18 Sedan (Front).jpg
Manufacturer Renault
Production 1978 – 1989
Assembly Billancourt, France
Santa Isabel, Argentina (Renault Argentina)
Heidelberg, Australia
Los Andes, Chile
Envigado, Colombia
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
Ciudad Sahagùn, Mexico
Casablanca, Morocco
Pitesti, Romania
Novo Mesto, Slovenia
Valladolid, Spain
Colón, Uruguay
Mariara, Venezuela
Body and chassis
Class Large family car
Mid-size car
Body style 4-door sedan
5-door station wagon (Renault Sportwagon)
Layout FF layout
Related Renault Fuego
Engine 1.4 L I4
1.6 L I4
1.6 L turbocharged I4
2.0 L I4
2.1 L diesel I4
2.2 L I4
Transmission 4/5-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase 2,440 mm (96 in)
Length 4,390 mm (173 in)
Width 1,690 mm (67 in)
Height 1,400 mm (55 in)
Curb weight 940 kg (2,070 lb) (base)
Predecessor Renault 12
Successor Renault 21
Eagle Medallion (North America)

The Renault 18 is a large family car produced by French manufacturer Renault between 1978 and 1993 (with production for European markets ending in 1989).


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.

Although Renault made numerous forays into international markets in countries such as Brazil 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.

The Renault 18 also formed the basis for the "Renault Eve" research car. This extremely fuel efficient model, with only a 1.1 litre engine borrowed from the R5, featured then state-of-the-art aerodynamics and use of lightweight materials.[1] The project was sponsored by the French government, who also promoted Peugeot's "Vera" series of concept cars.

The initial range[edit]

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 1,289 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 1,647 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.[2]

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),[3] 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 Britain's tenth best selling car in 1980, 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.[4] Rear-seat belts were now fitted as standard, and a manual choke replaced the automatic one with which the car had been launched.[4] 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.[5] 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.[5] This model was mechanically similar to the Renault 20 Diesel, and was equipped with a 2,068 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.

The 18 Turbo model was introduced in September 1980, borrowing from other Renault models.[5] The 18 Turbo featured a 1,565 cc (95.5 cu in) engine (rated at110 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.[6]

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.[5] 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 1,647 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.[5]

The "Type 2" was introduced in 1983. 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.[7] The GTX model was introduced in France in 1984. Subsequent years saw fewer changes to the 18 line, in preparation for the launch of the Renault 21 early in 1986.

The first estate models[edit]

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 and Spain) was only available in TL and TS model variations, except in Australia where all Australian-assembled Renault 18s, sedan and station wagon, were GTS. They were mechanically identical to their saloon counterparts. The estates were identical to the saloons in equipment, except 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.

U.S. market[edit]

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 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. The four-door was sold by AMC dealers as the Renault 18i from 1981 to 1982, and the station wagon (estate) body style as the Sportwagon, from 1981 to 1986. 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.[5]The Renault 18 was the first Renault about which critics claimed the Frenchness had been taken out.[8] For the 1987 model year it was replaced by the Renault 21's North American equivalent, the Eagle Medallion.

Assembly in Australia[edit]

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.[9]

South American markets[edit]

In Argentina and Colombia, there were other 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 2.2 L engines. There was a special edition of the 18 with two-tone paint (black top and light grey bottom) called the American (later updated with central locking and other items, which was named the American 2).

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

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 levels[edit]

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
Drivers side sun visor
Passengers side sun visor
Vanity mirror in passengers side sun visor
Full carpeting
Cloth upholstery
Front armrests with grab handles
Rear armrests
Ashtrays in the rear doors
Childproof rear door locks
Passengers 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
Drivers 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
Drivers 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 Renault 18 was replaced by the Renault 21 saloon and Nevada/Savanna estate starting in 1986. The U.S. market successor for 1987 was the Eagle Medallion. The R18 was withdrawn from the remaining European markets by 1989. It remained in production in South America until 1993. The last Renault 18 rolled off the production line in Argentina in 1993, after a total of 132,956 units were built in Argentina alone.


  1. ^ "1981 Renault Eve". Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Mastrostefano, Raffaele, ed. (1985). Quattroruote: Tutte le Auto del Mondo 1985 (in Italian). Editoriale Domus. p. 230. ISBN 88-7212-012-8. 
  3. ^ "Salon 1980: Toutes les Voitures du Monde". l'Auto Journal (in French) 15: 119. September 1980. 
  4. ^ a b "Automobilia". Toutes les voitures françaises 1979 (salon [Paris, Oct] 1978) (Paris: Histoire & collections). Nr. 84s: page 51. 2006. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Salon 1981: Toutes les Voitures du Monde". l'Auto Journal (in French) 15: 32. September 1981. 
  6. ^ "Renault 18 Turbodiesel e Diesel". Quattroruote (in Italian) (Editoriale Domus) 29 (347): 180–181. September 1984. 
  7. ^ Quattroruote (Sep. 1984), p. 182
  8. ^ Cranswick, Marc (2001). Cars of American Motors: An Illustrated History. McFarland. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-7864-4672-8. Retrieved 28 December 2013. 
  9. ^ "Renault 18GTS". Retrieved 28 December 2013. 

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