A friend of mine mentioned recently that he once owned an early Renault Fuego Turbo. As good a reason as any to finally complete this blog post—one I’ve had “in the hopper” for years.
After some sales success in Europe, Renault’s Fuego hatchback coupe became available for sale in the United States in 1982. Based on the Renault 18 sedan and using its floorpan and drivetrain, the Fuego was a different approach to a sporty coupe from what most manufacturers offered in the early eighties. Designed by Michel Jardin, the Fuego’s exterior looked like nothing else on the market, though some saw faint echos of the Porsche 924 and 928.
Two versions of the Fuego were available on its debut in the USA: the base Fuego coupe and the line-leading Fuego Turbo. The coupe came with an 81 bhp 1.6 liter/101 ci inline four with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection mated with a five-speed manual transmission. The Turbo featured an A5L 107 bhp 1.6 liter/96 ci inline four with Bosch L-Jetronic fuel injection and a Garrett T3 turbocharger paired with the same five-speed transmission.
As one might expect, performance was notably different for the two models. With a 2,372-pound curb weight, owners of a new Fuego Turbo could expect a 0-60 time of little over 10 seconds. A base Fuego was about 3.5 seconds slower, putting it in the same category as other slow sporty coupes for 1982, such as Lima-powered Mustangs and Capris and Iron Duke-powered Camaros and Firebirds. Mileage ratings were impressive for either version—the Turbo registered 26 city/39 highway mileage rating by the standards of the day. With a 14.8-gallon fuel, a Fuego Turbo owner could expect a range of 390 to 435 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.
Standard equipment for the $8,654 base Fuego included front-wheel-drive, rack-and-pinion steering, front disc/rear drum brakes, and P185/70R13 tires on 13-inch wheels.
Standard equipment on the $10,704 Fuego Turbo included power rack-and-pinion steering, 190/65 HR 365 (metric) Michelin TRX radial tires on 14.4-inch cast alloy wheels, air conditioning, and an AM/FM stereo. An electric sunroof was a $400 option.
Despite their success in Europe, Fuegos did not sell well in North America, which was Renault’s evident lot in life. Peak sales of 33,229 in 1982 declined every year going forward—by 1986, the Fuego’s last year in the US, they were a mere 4,152.
Those who did buy a Fuego reported that they were generally happy with their choice. A January 1983 Popular Mechanics Owner’s Report found that owners liked the handling and styling, but wanted more power.
According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1982 Renault Fuego in #1/Concours condition is $5,400, with a more typical #3/Good condition example going for $1,700. For unclear reasons, Hagerty only has values for the base version and not the Turbo. Fuegos rarely show up for sale in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds and on eBay Motors—in fact, they seem to have basically vanished. There was an interesting write-up on the Fuego in OldMotors last year.
Make mine Silver Poly, please.
This post is another first—my first Renault. I should probably cover the Alliance I spent a portion of the early nineties in sometime soon …