A year on and it is still one of the most eye-catching vehicles here, but the time has come for it to be returned to its owner with an unblemished record over 23,000 miles of driving.
As well as being one of the best behaved cars we have ever run at Fleet News, our Renault Vel Satis 3.0 dCi Initiale has also provided an exceptionally roomy and comfortable car for long trips. In fact, it became the favourite vehicle when anyone had a long trip to do.
Our test car, priced at £30,260 on-the-road, had just about everything you could want as standard, including leather and wood interior, electrically-adjustable and heated front seats, tyre pressure sensors, CD autochanger and colour screen sat-nav. Try adding those items to a Mercedes-Benz E-class and the list price would soar above £40,000.
However, it is sad to note that trade scepticism about the Vel Satis on the used car market hasn't subsided, with our range-topping diesel expected to retain 28% of its original value after three years/60,000 miles.
The fact that nothing has gone wrong with the Vel Satis over the last 23,000 miles is testament to how seriously Renault is taking its audience. A car that is passing itself off as a true alternative in the premium sector cannot afford any embarrassing problems, and our test vehicle was faultless throughout its stay.
It even managed the rare feat of beating its combined fuel economy figure during its time.
We used our local dealer, Smith's of Peterborough, for the first service and while we reported a late alteration to the date, the staff were courteous and helpful at all times. We also approached Smith's for a quote on two new tyres and they beat some well-known fast-fit companies on price.
The Vel Satis behaved impeccably over the last 12 months, but its most difficult battle is in changing people's perceptions of the Renault brand. Our experience has gone a long way to changing our perception.