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Renault Avantime (2002 - 2003)


2.0T Dynamique

reviewed by Anonymous on 27 June 2020
Overall rating
How it drives
Fuel economy
Running costs
Cost of maintenance and repairs
How practical it is
Overall reliability

A unique car that's not as unreliable as you might think

I fell in love with the Avantime a long time ago, and was finally able to buy one after waiting around 7 years. I bought the 2.0T version as at the time I was quite young and insurance and fuel consumption were big concerns, however, if I were buying now I would go for the 3.0 V6. The V6 manual is not much worse on fuel consumption than the 2.0T, although the auto does push it down to nearwer the 25mpg (I average 30mpg, I can get 37-40 on a run and around town it will drop to low twenties). But because in the UK there were only 2 trim levels of the car, and they were tied to the engine, so the V6 is the Privilege spec with extras such as parking sensors, electric folding mirrors (all have electric adjustable mirrors), cruise control, auto wipers, heated screen and full leather with heated seats. I am lucky as mine has a few of the upgrades (parking sensors, electric mirrors and privilege spec seats).
In 7 years of ownership the car has been pretty reliable, the biggest problem I had (and has happened with other 2.0T cars) was it going into limp home mode, it turned out to be a sticky throttle which I was able to source through the owners club. I also had a brake pipe leak (my fault as turned out it had been flagged on the MOT as being bad) and an intermittent misfire which was an injector. Considering the age of the car I would consider this to be average reliability. I have also recently had to replace suspension components, but given the cars age and mileage (~130k) this is completely expected. The car is based electrically on the third generation Espace, which means it does not have all the new electricals introduced in the early 2000s on other Renaults such as the Megane, Laguna and Vel Satis which led to a rather poor reputation for Renault (worth remembering that the Avantime was built by Matra, and not Renault).
The car drives lovely, it's not amazingly fast, particularly by todays standards, but it has enough to to enjoy yourself and quickly realise you need to ease off. The gearbox is smooth, the car handles surprisingly well given its height and overall weight, it's no sports car but I push it a a bit and the car stays planted. However, the best bit is the grand air mode, one press of a button and all windows drop and the enormous sunroof opens, in the front you can easily do 50mph like this, but I have driven at 70 with all windows down and it is not blustery (might be in the back, but if you turn the music up you can't hear the kids complain!). The car does a very good job considering its age of suppressing engine noise, I have on occasion tried to start the engine when it's already going, and at stop you can only really feel the engine (very slightly) through the steering wheel, not the rest of the car. I recently traveled in a 2018 Range Rover and although that was a slight improvement in refinement, I certainly couldn't see much improvement given the 16 year advantage (not to mention the extra cost) it had.
The car is fairly practical, it really isn't as spacious as it should be in the cabin,however there are several Avantime drivers over 6ft who have no issues, but in the back legroom is rather restricted, as there is no room for feet under the seats. The boot however is excellent, it is a good squarish shape and very large at 530 litres, it can even take a full set of wheels with tyres! The boot is also versatile, the tray that sits above the boot to keep prying eyes out is a nice sturdy piece which can be removed and placed on the bottom of the boot to give a flat load floor, which is perfect for heavy things or large items, the car does perform as an MPV, I have moved many gumtree purchases from freezers to beds and even garden tables in the back of the Avantime with the seats down.
The only real downside to the Avantime is the fuel consumption, by todays standards it is quite poor, however several have been fitted with LPG to help with that. I would also say that rust can be a problem on some cars, as whilst the body is plastic and the chassis is galvanised, nothing bolted to the chassis got similar treatment, and some people have reported issues with needing replacement subframes, and I intend to take mine off to get galvanised to protect it long term. But the chassis galvanisation is holding up well, the interior still looks good with the exception of a few rubberised parts (this can be remedied fairly easily) and parts are for the most part not too difficult to get thanks to the engines being shared with other cars. I highly recommend anyone looking to buy one to have a look at the owners forum, there is a comprehensive buying guide on there and it is the friendliest forum I have even been on, with a vast amount of knowledge at your fingertips.
If you've always promised yourself one, it really isn't a big gamble.

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