Renault Modus

Even a recent coming together with a concrete pillar hasn’t spoiled our enjoyment of the Renault Modus over the past year

  • Versatility: with plenty of gadgets, storage solutions and adaptive rear seating, the Modus is a little car with a lot going on.Safety: as with most Renaults, this hatchback was awarded a superb five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating – and reassuringly, it was the first small car ever to achieve this accolade.
  • Styling: as I’ve said before, I have never found the Modus a particularly attractive car. The shape is quirky, and it’s a bit too ‘mumsy’ for my liking.Dippy driver: a lapse of concentration in a car park and you’re slammed with a huge bill for a brand new door. Not good!

Bash, scrape, gulp! A momentary lapse of concentration in the Auto Express car park has cost me dear. I could blame my nightmare day at work and a blinding headache, or even claim a concrete pillar leaped out of nowhere to attack my Renault Modus. But ultimately, the dented driver’s door on our long-term supermini-MPV was entirely down to one thing – me being a dippy driver.

I usually pride myself on my manoeuvring abilities – in the tightly packed staff car park, you soon learn to squeeze into small gaps. But something went very wrong on this particular evening.

And while initially the knock did not seem too bad, ominously the window wouldn’t go down. I didn’t want to move the Renault in case I caused additional harm, so I climbed over the seats and out of the back door to investigate – and I was horrified to see the extent of the damage to the admittedly thin-skinned panel. From the mess, you would think I had been side-swiped at speed by another vehicle!

The shock was compounded when I took the car to my local bodyshop, Pennings Ltd in Watford, Hertfordshire. There, I was told that the entire door would need replacing. Add in brand new mouldings and trim, ‘blending’ paintwork on the surrounding panels, materials, labour plus the dreaded VAT, and the bill came to a total of more than £1,000 – a full insurance claim with a £250 excess. Grrrr!

Still, the company did a fine job of the repair, although my courtesy Fiat Punto was a little grubby and smelled distinctly of dogs. Frustratingly, the damage occurred just as the Modus was nearing the end of its tenure with us. During almost a year’s motoring, it had been a loyal and trustworthy companion. It gave cause for mechanical concern only once – when a faulty brake pedal switch had to be replaced by my local Renault dealer – and the diesel engine’s overall 47.44mpg economy was impressive.

Winter motoring had been blissful, although I would have appreciated a heated driver’s seat, as the car’s standard leather upholstery could feel rather cool in the brisk early morning air. The large, automatic xenon headlamps proved excellent when driving through the gloom, fog and rain, while the dedicated cornering lights, which activated when manoeuvring or taking a bend, were a much valued safety extra.

However, additional minor war wounds had appeared over the miles. First, there was a tiny chip high in the windscreen, caused by a stone which was spat up at the car while on the motorway. Then a bulge developed in the front offside tyre’s sidewall.

We didn’t consider the former serious enough to require any sort of repair, but we had to shell out nearly £100 to replace the rubber, with the work being carried out by Kwik-Fit. Finally, an increasing need to downshift to fourth gear while cruising up long, fast inclines indicated the engine was beginning to lose steam after 17,000-odd miles.

The Modus’s return to Renault threatened to leave a practical family car-shaped hole in the Auto Express long-term fleet… but the arrival of a Nissan Note signals a new beginning. Turn to Page 60 to read our initial impressions.

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