Fleet News

Renault Vel Satis 3.0 dCi Initiale - 11,858 miles

Renault

Review

AS THE vehicle of choice for long distance journeys for the team at Fleet News, our long-term Renault Vel Satis has clocked up the miles during its stay with us.

It has transported me on long trips up and down the country where its torquey 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, automatic gearbox and high seating position make it an ideal motorway companion.

Even when the traffic slows down in the inevitable jams, it is still the car I would choose to be stuck in – the automatic gearbox means no faffing about with the clutch and the seating position gives you a good view of the traffic jam around you.

It was even home for 16 hours to my colleague Jo Fobbester when she had the misfortune to be travelling on the M11 motorway in Essex at the end of January, when most of the country ground to a halt because of a couple of inches of snow and freezing conditions.

Because of the way it devours long distances, the odometer is reading almost 12,000 miles and this coincides with the service warning indicator coming on. Luckily, our local dealership, Smith's of Peterborough, has recently been awarded Premier Centre status, meaning it can carry out servicing on the Vel Satis.

When Renault launched the Vel Satis it made a great play of insisting the service levels customers would receive at these specialist dealerships should be a cut above the rest – justifying the car's market position and price as a rival to vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz E-class and BMW 5-series in the executive sector.

So it was interesting for us to test these claims. Our experience shows that Renault was not speaking hollow words at the car's launch.

The car was booked in for the service by a courteous member of the Smith's team and everything appeared to be going swimmingly. However, two days later the garage rang with a problem.

As part of the Premier Centre system, Smith's ran a check to ensure all the parts needed for the routine service would be in stock – avoiding the occasional problem of a garage carrying out most of the work but having to take the car back later to finish off the work when the part arrived.

An incredibly polite service manager from Smith's rang us two days before the service date to advise us that there was a nationwide shortage of a particular washer part needed and asked to reschedule the work for when the part was in stock.

While it may be annoying that Renault UK doesn't have any of these particular washers in the country, the fact that Smith's rang and told us in plenty of time ensured we were not inconvenienced any more than we had to be. By the time this report reaches you, the service should have been carried out. We'll update you next time and let you know if it all went to plan.

Company car tax bill 2003/04 (40% taxpayer): £330 per month

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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