Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Renault the Ripper

If you've known-me for long, that this article will be just another boring "I know, you were right" reading.
If you don't however this will be an interesting story.
Back in the day's when Nissan was a car company, the French giant approached and proposed a joint venture. Back than, just like most Japanese car makers, Nissan placed 90% of it's engine R&D budget on petrol engine units. It made perfect sense as Nissan produced essentially with the American and Japanese domestic market in mind, an was regarded as a company able to create brilliant passionate cars like the Skyline.
This didn't mean that Nissan's Diesel engines were not good... cause they were. I can remember the good old Nissan BlueBird's 6 cylinder diesel put out 2 million kilometres without needing to be rebuilt, pumping out more power and torque than it's "Long Runner" rival Mercedes 180D 2.0 4 cylinder unit witch was know for it's respected 1 to 1.5 million kilometres without rebuilds status.
The problem was that emission regulations were getting tighter on the diesel side (and although it's a stupid trend in the petrol engines side, in the oil burner's side makes some sense). Since building powerful, clean diesel engines was getting too costly, Nissan patterned with Renault and sourced it's (under heavy development) DCi units.
It looked like a simple Customer-Supplier relationship, but then Renault started to use Nissan's chassis knowledge. Back then I immediately said: "this is it, buy you Nissan TODAY and keep it safe... or just admit that your next Nissan will be a Renault".
Nissan was in fact starting to slip into Renault's hungry-for-High-Tech mouth. Guess what?
Not 2 years after the initial "partnership" Renault increased it's share. Later on, the Renault Laguna V2 came up with an interesting benchmark publicity video: an high speed slalom where the huge saloon outperformed an Porsche Boxter clean. How is this possible? Remember the Nissan Skyline Computer and it's way of maintaining stability without disrupting agility (unlike the dull clumsy Bosh ESP that most European cars used back then)? Guess what: Renault sourced it out.
This event issued some pretty loud "I TOLD'YA SO!" statements from me.
It didn't take long and Nissan's Fair-lady project switched from the expected RB26DETT engine to an american-stile lazy V6. And latter the R35Skyline was rumored to be a V6 too... That was it. Nissan was dead and their R&D was clearly doing stunts for the French to like-them enough to maintain them an independent brand after the buyout.
And so it was... The RB26DETT engine was terminated and the dark ages came to Nissan. Renault took complete control and in the GTR debut (it's no longer caller Nissan Skyline R35 GTR as it's no longer a Skyline) it was clear that the entire engineering team was very nervous about how Renault's chairman would react to the extremely technologically advanced GTR.
Renault's chairman loved it (evidently.. the car is almost perfect being spoiled only by it's bad V6 engine when compared to the Godzilla's RB26DETT capable of going all the way up to 1300Bhp).
One of Nissan's flag ship technology of the Nissan Skyline GTR line, is, among the ATTESSA AWD, the Super-HICAS AllWeelSteering System.
As described in this picture, you can clearly see how the computer decides to change the rear wheel angles independently (by dynamical tuning the suspension convergence and toe angles), depending on the speed and G-force involved in the turns.
Well my friends, the latest Laguna3 GT with the so called (4Control System) does EXACTLY that...

So if it was not clear for you that Renault just brought Nissan in order to source technology from it into their product lines just open your eyes wide and embrace the horror:
New Datsun 240Z? no... just a crappy v6 wannabe.
New skyline? NOP just a technical testbed for Laguna with a crappy american cheap style engine.
New Silvia? Noooo, don't think so.
New Almera GTI? New Sunny GTI?.... no!
You can buy a 2tonne Qasquai with an 1.5DCi engine though.

Nissan is now a test lab for Renault and a SUV maker.
Renault on the other hand is building beautiful (the new ones finally are able to be looked up without needing a sick-bag at hand) cars and making them better by the minute. The Megane Sport, The Laguna 3 top line... and more will come.

All I'm gonna tell something further on this matter is ...  much like "jack the ripper" liked to take organs from his victims, ultimately killing them and parting them up, Renault is doing the very same thing to Nissan, being the only remaining FLAGSHIP, the GTR (which is a rape of the original concept by it self), and I would guess that it's only survival is because it's better than a 911 at half the price and this will allow it to live as little over being a tech-R&D platform for Renault.
It's the sad truth about the death of another Japanese Giant.