Renault 16 TS

The Renault 16 (R16) is a D-segment family hatchback produced by French automaker Renault between 1965 and 1980 in Le Havre, France. The Renault 16 was the first French winner of the European Car of the Year award.


Under the skin, the layout of the R16 is similar to the Citroën Traction Avant – front-wheel drive, engine mounted inline behind the transmission. torsion bar suspension, and column mounted shift. In addition the car had an aluminum engine and an electric cooling fan, both technical innovations.

The big innovation was the modern, practical body style – introducing the hatchback to the mid-size family segment. This allowed the interior to be immensely flexible, and could be configured in seven different ways. This body style is halfway between a saloon and an estate, and, before the term hatchback was coined, journalists struggled to describe it. A review in the English Motoring Illustrated in May 1965 (several months before the car was officially launched there) stated: “The Renault Sixteen can thus be described as a large family car but one that is neither a four door saloon and nor is it quite an estate. But, importantly, it is a little different.”

One peculiarity of the R16, and later Renault 5, design is that the two back wheel axle shafts are not in-line. The left wheelbase is 70 mm (2.76 in) longer than the right wheelbase, to accommodate the transverse torsion bar suspension. This and the soft front seats gives the car a particularly smooth ride even over big bumps.

The engine was mounted longitudinally in the front, behind the gearbox/transaxle. This contributed to the handling and balance of this car by keeping the weight closer to the centre of the car. Traditional front drive layouts are either transverse or sometimes longitudinally but with the engine in front of the transmission.

Although this north-south/forward gearbox layout gave excellent handling, servicing access to the engine was so difficult that the R16’s successor, the Renault 20, kept the north-south layout but put the engine ahead of the gearbox.

The R16 TS is introduced in 1968. It features a new 1565 cc engine, an all-new instrument panel that includes a tachometer and water temperature gauge and many other new features including two-speed windscreen wipers, rear defroster, passenger reading light and optional manual steel sunroof and powered front windows.

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