The Renault 20 and Renault 30 are two executive cars produced by the French automaker Renault between 1975 and 1984. The most upmarket and expensive Renaults of their time, the two cars were almost identical as regards sheet metal and mechanicals; the 30 was the larger-engined and more expensive of the two. The two cars were easily distinguished between each other from their differing headlight configuration — the Renault 20 had two single rectangular headlights whereas the Renault 30 had quadruple round headlights. The interior specifications differed substantially however with the Renault 30 having a higher specification in all models. Over 622,000 R20s and 145,000 R30s were produced in Sandouville near Le Havre, France.
The 20 variant won 1978 What Car? "Car of the Year".
Launched in March 1975, the Renault 30 TS was the first Renault with an engine larger than four cylinders since before World War II. It was one of the first cars (the other two being the Peugeot 604 and Volvo 264) to use the then newly introduced 2,664 cc PRV V6 engine, which was developed jointly between Peugeot, Renault and Volvo; the PRV produced 130 PS (96 kW) and could power the R30 to a top speed of 185 km/h (115 mph). The vehicle's hatchback styling was derivative of the extremely successful Renault 16.
The more affordable Renault 20, which was presented at the Paris Salon in November 19750 (exactly eight months after the Renault 30 TS) and used the same hatchback body styling as the 30 but with two rectangular headlights instead of the R30's quadruple round lights. Under the bonnet, the 20 had the smaller four-cylinder 1647 cc engine (from the Renault 16 TX) rated at 90 PS (66 kW). Other technical differences between the 20 and 30 were that 20 used drum brakes at the rear wheels, 13 inch wheel rims, and a smaller 60-litre fuel tank. The 20 came in three different trim variations: L, TL and GTL. The two cars were effectively two 'badge engineered' versions of the same car with separate numeric classification.
Both the 20 & 30 were advanced in terms of safety, featuring front and rear crumple zones as well as side impact protection.
Reliability issues, such as niggling mechanical faults (which sometimes proved expensive to fix) plagued both cars throughout their lifetimes. Shortly after their introduction, it soon became quite clear that the Renault 20 was too underpowered to cope with the overall size and weight of the car and that the Renault 30 was seen as too expensive for what was effectively the same car. In response to this, the R20TS was introduced, and used a new four-cylinder 1,995 cc overhead camshaft engine rated at 109 PS (80 kW) (which was shared with the Citroën CX and later the Peugeot 505). The new 2.0-litre engine was universally regarded as a big improvement. The following year (October 1978) saw the introduction of the R30 TX, a more luxurious fuel-injected version of the R30 TS, then the R20 Diesel in late 1979. By late 1981, all 1.6 litre R20s were discontinued, leaving the LS 2.0 as the smallest model in the range.
In July 1980, the 2.2-litre fuel-injected R20 TX was added to the range, followed by the R30 Turbo Diesel one year later. The R30 Diesel Turbo has the trim of the R30 TX, albeit with unique alloys, with an engine delivering 85 PS (63 kW) and derived from the naturally aspirated diesel engine. Production of the 20 and 30 ceased on 16 October 1983 to make way for the Renault 25.
In 1979, the then state-owned Romanian manufacturer Dacia produced a small number of Renault 20s under the name Dacia 2000, reserved entirely for the dignitaries and secret police of the Communist government led by Nicolae Ceauşescu.
A specially prepared Renault 20 Turbo 4x4 driven by Bernard Marreau won the Paris-Alger-Dakar Rally in 1982.
- March 1975 - Introduction of the Renault 30 TS, a large 5-door hatchback available in only one specification, the TS with the 2664 cc V6 PRV engine (developed jointly between Peugeot, Renault and Volvo), with a choice between a 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic gearbox. The R30 TS had power-assisted steering, four round Quartz-Iodide headlights, electric front windows and central locking.
- November 1975 - Introduction of the Renault 20, in L, TL and GTL specifications, with the smaller four-cylinder 1,647 cc (90 PS (66 kW)) engine and 4-speed gearbox. All three variations of the R20 had two rectangular headlights instead of the four round ones like on the R30 TS. The L had very basic trim and no hubcaps. The TL had a better equipment level, while the GTL had much the same equipment level as the TS. Automatic transmission was optional on the R20 TL and R20 GTL. Quartz Iodide Headlights optional on all R20 models.
- 1976 - The 1647 cc engine from the R20 had the power rating increased to 96 PS (71 kW).
- Late 1977/early 1978 - The R20 L was dropped from the range because of slow sales, its presence was only justified by its price. All models got a restyled instrument panel visor. The R30 TS had its power dropped from 130 to 125 PS (96 to 92 kW). Optional steel wheels with Michelin TRX tyres.
- July 1977 - Introduction of the R20 TS. It had a new 1,995 cc engine (rated at 109 PS (80 kW)), with the choice of a 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic gearbox. The equipment level remained largely the same as the R20 GTL.
- October 1978 - Introduction of the R30 TX. It had a more powerful Bosch K-Jetronic fuel-injected 144 PS (106 kW) version of the 2664 cc V6 engine, 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic gearbox. It also had alloy wheels, electric windows all-round, electric sunroof, velour upholstery, and front and rear head restraints.
- 1979 - Revisions to all models: driver's side rear fog light and rear seat belts. The R20 TS got a new cooling fan, inertia reel rear seat belts, a new windscreen wiper switch, and the choice of a 5-speed gearbox. The R30 TS got a more powerful 130 PS (96 kW) engine, and small pocket in the drivers sun visor.
- 1979 - Introduction of the R20 LS. It had the same mechanical specification as the R20 TS but the equipment specification of the R20 TL.
- September 1979 - Introduction of the R20 Diesel (in TD and GTD forms) with new 2,068 cc Diesel (67 PS (49 kW)) engine, 5-speed gearbox, negative offset front suspension, and larger four-stud wheel rims. The R20 TD was equivalent to the R20 TL/LS, while the R20 GTD: equivalent to the R20 TS only it added power-steering.
- 1980 - All models got a pantograph drivers side wiper, and a completely restyled interior with new dashboard and instrument panel from the Renault Fuego. All petrol models got a new type of automatic transmission option. R20 TL/GTL got new alternator with built-in electronic regulator and new 3-spoke wheel rims. The R20 TS now had the wheel rims from the R30 TS. The R30 TS/TX got a chrome grille surround.
- July 1980 -The R20 LS is introduced. A new 2.2 L engine rated at 115 PS (85 kW) is introduced in the new 20 TX. A new 2.0 L diesel engine rated at 60 PS (44 kW) is added to the R20 range. The 1.6 litre TL is discontinued, leaving the 2-litre LS as the lowest end R20.
- 1981: All R20 models got new dual-circuit braking system and negative offset front suspension. The R20 GTL was discontinued, leaving the R20 TL the only model to have the 1.6-litre engine (until it too was discontinued by September). The R30 TX got new bumpers.
- Late 1981 - R30TS discontinued.
- July 1981 - A new turbodiesel is introduced in the new R30 Turbo D.
- 1983 - The R20 and R30 cease production, to be replaced by Renault 25.