Renault R21 Profile

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Renault R21 General Information

The Renault R21 came at a time when many things changed in Renault's car design. The R21 was a clear cut, straight, no nonsense design, it was a modern and functional saloon and it's ride would earn the highest ratings even today. Indeed the R21 is definitely one of the most underrated cars there ever was. Such superb was its ride and comfort that, believe it or not, its successor, the Renault Laguna, could hardly better the R21 - and the Laguna is absolutely reknown for its fantastic ride! But more so, the R21 Turbo was the first turbo charged Renault with an OHC camshaft layout - yes, all the incredible R5 versions were UHC! More, Renault was one of the first brands to market FWD, yet they regularly featured longitudinal engines, a strange layout combined with FWD it seems nowadays. The R21 came right at the time this was to change and as a result the R21 is to my knowledge the only car ever designed that was available with longitudinal as well as transverse engines (except the Rover 75, that was even available with FWD & RWD!). The R5 changed to transverse engines following a huge facelift, but with the R21 the diesels and the 2.2 petrol were longitudinal, all other engines transverse in one and the same model and year of car!

But coming to rally terms, the R21 was indeed made in a version called R21 Turbo Quadra - a turbo 4x4. This however was a limited edition road car with production numbers too small for groupA & groupN homologation, such a serious return of Renault to the WRC was eliminated by the rules. Funny enough this fate Renault shared with Peugeot: The R21 Turbo Quadra and the Peugeot 405 T16 where both turbo 4x4 cars limited to 400 units (405 T16 = 1000 units but over 2.5 years = 400 per annum), which would have been sufficient for group4, but not for the post 1987 regs. And both these brands were full of criticism when the FIA changed the WRC from groupB to groupA. Both Renault and Peugeot now claimed they created these cars as homologation specials and would return to the WRC if it wasn't for the required 5000 units per annum! Only the FWD version of the R21 Turbo was produced in sufficient numbers and with FWD there seemed to be not much point in a powerful groupA version - again a similar fate to Peugeot, where only the non-turbo 405 MI16x4 was made in sufficient numbers for modern homologation. However here the Renault solution was better than Peugeot's opposite option. The R21 with turbo but without heavy 4x4 was far more of a sports car than the 405 MI16x4 without turbo but the heavy and torque eating 4x4 drive train.

The groupN version of the R21 Turbo however was superb and famous, it only had one problem: it stayed in the shadow of the groupN R5 GT Turbo! Nevertheless, compared to the R5 GT Turbo the R21 Turbo had a 2.0 engine that "only" produced 175BHP but an amazing 270NM torque. Bozian actually had an R21 Turbo up to 245BHP, still based on the groupN car, which only shows what could have been possible with some groupA development. However a groupA project was never suported, so the car was officially never more than groupN. The torque could easily make up for weight and size and made the R21 a serious contender in the faster and more flowing stages. The car came to major fame in French regional events with drivers as Michel Rats and Philippe Bugalski. Bugalski also took the car to WRC events, but he failed to prove the car's potential, twice he had to withdraw following road accidents!

One of the most interesting driver pairings in the WRC ever was on this occasion: Rallye Monte Carlo 1990, #0 course opening car, R21 Turbo, driver Jean Alesi, navigator Jean-Marie Ballestre.

Renault R21 Related Content

Renault R21 Evolutions

Model & Evo. (Activity)
Renault R21 2L Turbo (88-92) 175/5200 270/3000 4498.1714.1375 1196 (6.8) FWD (2597)

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Renault R21 Retirements

This is an unofficial Car Model Retirements list and may be incomplete.

Pos Event Driver Co-Driver # Rego Reason
Ret. 1990 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo J. Alesi J. Balestre #0 [UNKNOWN] SS0 only course opening car
Ret. 1989 WRC Rallye Monte Carlo P. Bugalski D. Giraudet #25 [UNKNOWN] SS1 road crash
Ret. 1988 WRC Tour de Corse P. Lartigue . UNKNOWN #22 [UNKNOWN] SS99 crash
Ret. 1988 WRC Tour de Corse P. Bugalski J. Andrié #21 [UNKNOWN] SS18 road crash