1983 Renoir Chamonix 2.3 TDL and 1985 Anhultz Dione XII CX-T - Retro Review 1
With the new Anhultz Dione XII coming on the market early next and the Exhaust Note being able to test out the top trim inline six powered executive model, the CX-T, we decided to go back to one of last years’ favorite executive liftbacks for a comparison.
And indeed, at first sight, the Renoir Chamonix appears similar in concept. Both cars are large family cars with a top trim more oriented at the executive level. The Chamonix though is powered by the innovative turbo-charged 2.3 diesel engine of Renior.
Styling and Utility
Styling of the new Anhultz is certainly a selling point. Beautifully detailed, with modern rear lights and nice accents overall on the car, we are certainly a fan. The Renoir is not ugly by any means, but the design already shows the rapid progression of the evolution in styling we are going through this decade.
The Renior might be a tad boring, but it makes up for that with good practicability in the form of a large boot, lots of storage space all over the car and amble leg room for all 4 seats with a comfortable arm rest between the rear seats. The Anhultz has 5 seats to put against that yet offers less space in the trunk due to the rear wheel drive layout.
Two practical points for the Anhultz still are firstly the (optional) parking poles on the front corners - incredibly useful in city streets and while parking, and even available in an electrically retractable variant. Secondly, there is the Draaikiepdeur™ (“dry-keep-durr”, litt. turn-tipping-door) mechanism for the rear hatch, of which the top opens normally independently, while the bottom part can swivel open separately transversely with hinges on the right. The idea is to allow transport of light but long cargo without the whole hatch standing open.
Positives and negatives both here. The Anhultz features a new powerplant and ignition system on an older trusted inline six layout. The 2.4 liter unit produces 115 horsepower and runs incredibly smoothly. The Renior’s innovative diesel engine is a much rougher sounding 2.3 liter inline-4 producing 90 horsepower thanks to the turbo. And that turbo-charging ensures you should not fear that this diesel act like a truck engine; clunkier than the inline-6 certainly, but we found it very responsive.
Downside of innovative systems is reliability. Over the last year there were already reports of recalls and updates to the turbo-charger and intercooling system. Anhultz builds on established technology and appears confident on the reliability of any updates to the ignition system. The downside of the Anhultz is fuel consumption, tested average cruising economy is 9.0 l/100km (26.1 mpg) versus only 6.6 (35.5 mpg) for the Renoir diesel. The higher weight and wider tyres of the Anhultz might play a role their too.
We wouldn’t have this name as a magazine if we didn’t touch this subject seriously. The inside noise of the Anhultz is not entirely enjoyable at typical highway speeds. While the inline-6 is smooth, and certainly not loud, there is this engine drone. The deeper turbo diesel of the Renoir and the higher quality sound deafening do make for a more pleasant highway cruise.
Interior, Comfort, Safety, and Price
The Renior boasts four size leather seats with a sleek, if maybe slightly boring dash. Accents in the interior of the doors and roof are finished in alcantara. The Anhultz is less comfortable in terms of seating, with a choice between good quality fabric (we are a fan) or rather cheap-ish leather (we aren’t). The instrument panel in the Anhultz is interesting, with a rather futuristic computer unit style look, assymetric gauges, all encapsuled in units turned towards the driver.
Apart from the earlier mentioned engine drone, the Anhultz is still remarkably comfortable to drive long distances with. The Anhultz also retains good road feeling, while the Renoir is tuned to appear to float over the highway more.
Both cars score about equally on government crash tests and are deemed above average safe for driver and passenger protection. Both also come standard with rear three point seat belts (excluding the middle seat in the Anhultz). Despite more premium interior, the Renoir will be the cheaper of these two cars, the current sticker price of our test car being $11.546,99, while the CX-T trim of the Dione is most likely to cost closer to $13.500.
Driving and conclusions
The Renoir we reviewed had an electronically-controlled automatic transmission (4-speed), which is great to cruise with, but can be clunky to control, and is already reported to have reliability issues. The Anhultz goes for a manual 5-speed, a step up from their current and base model 4-speed. The Anhultz is unsurprisingly faster than the Renoir, at the cost of fuel efficiency. However, at high speed cruising the difference is small.
The brakes on the Renoir are good, able to stop the car multiple emergency stops in a row. The wheels lock up but the car is stable and keeps straight. This was a bit of a surprise in the Anhultz, which despite boasting a high-end and rather expensive brake setup, appears to slightly suffer balance issues. Emergency stops result is immediately lock up and occasionally cause the rear to become light. Although it does not cause spin outs, the car did not always end up standing straight at the end of a stop. Brake pedal dosage at normal speeds and in city traffic feels right however.
The Renoir is well balanced and comfortable on the road. Despite low top speed, the engine acts effortlessly on the highway. The suspension deals well with corners and feels stable at any speed and with any load. The Anhultz appears to improve on this standard with even more composed road feel. The front-wheel Renoir is safe and easy drive, but we applaud Anhultz for making the Dione as stable as it is. For a rear-wheel drive vehicle, our test drivers had a difficult time in trying to unsettle the rear.
In conclusion, Anhultz will prove to be a force to recogned with on the market, especially attractive due to the styling - outside as well as inside - and the smooth drive. We believe the Renoir and its turbo-charged diesel engine - a unit we see a future for if reliability issues get ironed out - will remain relevant in this segment despite extra competition, especially with the great interior for the cost price, and the attractive fuel economy. The Anhultz, despite the higher price, appears to be cheaper, easier and more reliable to maintain.