Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In the autumn of 1965, Renault launched the world's first hatchback car - a halfway move between a saloon and estate bodystyle which would eventually become the most popular car bodystyle in the world. The 16 was voted European Car of the Year by a board of European motoring journalists for 1966.
It sold well in most of Europe, thanks to its spacious and comfortable interior. Equipment levels were also high. Initially, Renault sold the 16 with just a 1.4 L petrol engine in GL specification. Then followed the 1.6 L TS which could top 100 mph. Top of the range was the TX which had a 5 speed gearbox. Equipment included electric windows and centralised door locking, features previously unknown on family cars in Europe.
Production of the Renault 16 lasted until 1979 when it was finally replaced by the less successful Renault 20 . Even by this stage, when it was 14 years old, the Renault 16 was still one of the most popular and highly rated family cars on sale in Europe.
By the time the Renault 16 ceased production most other European manufacturers had at least one hatchback on sale, with the idea just starting to rub off with Asian and American makers. The most significant hatchbacks influenced by the Renault 16 between 1965 and 1980 include the following:
Austin Maxi (1969), Citroen GS (1970), Fiat 127 (1971), Peugeot 104 (1972), Volkswagen Golf (1974), Chrysler Alpine/Simca 1307 (1975), Vauxhall Chevette/Opel Kadett City (1975) Rover SD1 (1976), Ford Fiesta (1977), Chrysler/Simca Horizon (1978).
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