So we got a Nissan, err, Renault Safrane

So we got a Nissan, err, Renault Safrane

My PR buddy picked up this Renault Safrane and passed it on to me a day later, with a layer of crap on the outside. However, the cabin was spotless, and there was no denying it — it felt like I was driving around in a Nissan.

It didn’t resemble any current or past Nissan. But there are bits of design elements within the interior that could’ve come from the Tiida, the Altima or the Murano. Of course this is no surprise. Renault owns Nissan, whether they care to admit it clearly or not. This so-called Renault is actually a Korean-market Samsung SM5, designed completely by Nissan, and a similar car is also sold as a Nissan Teana in Japan, all based on the Altima platform. Only the Safrane badge is French, taken from a 1990s midsize luxury liftback model by Renault that flopped in the GCC.

Unlike the Altima however, the Safrane seems designed to disappear into the crowd. Even that crane in the background looks more interesting. In such ‘first look’ articles on this blog, I usually cover special features of whatever car I get, but there is absolutely nothing to report on this car. Funnily enough, it is still a fantastic car, only because it is so damn cheap compared to the stuff you do get with it.

First of all, it is a proper midsize sedan, with overall legroom similar to that of the Altima, but possibly with more headroom in the back.

Our mid-range V6 tester came with faux leather and faux wood, all of which looked good. The upper cabin panels were all soft-touch materials. The wide seats have minimal bolstering, signaling its non-sporting intentions. Only the driver’s seat was powered in our car.

A central monochrome screen shows bits of info such as radio stations, dual-zone a/c settings and even outside temperature.

The big card-style ‘intelligent’ remote key is the only thing similar to French Renaults. It is way too thick to fit in the wallet though.

There is no hope for those looking to swap in an aftermarket stereo, but the standard unit is easy to use and sounds pretty decent. It even comes with a subwoofer and an AUX input. Notice the keyless ignition, which has to be twisted to start the car, although a starter button would’ve been better. The covered cup-holders are appreciated.

The door panels were designed by a blind man, but an interesting bit is the pop-out pockets on the front ones, which are usually found in luxury cars. The rear doors even have little cubbies which I think are ashtrays. Maybe the designers smoke a lot.

A minor point for some, but the rear windows only go down by about two-thirds.

The rear cargo area is huge, and even includes a pass-through hole into the cabin.

Our tester also came with little niceties such as fog lamps, 16-inch alloys, rain-sensing wipers, power windows, sunroof and auto headlights, though I believe cruise control and other stuff might be available as options. Even with the relatively tiny V6, it is good value for money, and an indirect way to get a Nissan. About the only competitor I can think of is the impressively-equipped Kia Optima. I’ll cover driving impressions in the full review.

What do you think?



  1. horrible design but I’m impressed with its features. the pop-up storage in the door is not need. throwing things in an open hole is easier. And how small is the relatively small v6? surely not smaller than optima’s 2.7 V6 considering it was designed by Nissan. 2.7 must be the samllest V6 right now.

  2. Author
  3. why would someone make a 2.3 v6?!! 🙄

  4. 2.3!!!! Is this a joke!!! thats smaller than optima’s 4cyl option [2.4]. 😯

  5. This is the australian Nissan Maxima with a 3.5 v6 with 177kw. Its a more niche choice and is definately a better maxima than the rubbish decade old Uae version . Mash , you should all this , wouldnt you now

  6. It’s cheap, ugly and slow…sounds like the old Optima or Sonata….but I still think this is a decent deal in today’s over the top Japanese priced cars…

  7. no use copy of altima 2008

  8. 2.3 engine hahahahahah
    lol 😆

  9. mash, is the engine going lasy like the 2.5 altima at daily use?
    i think this car is good. i dont know why you people prefer toys than real cars.

  10. nice brief review mhc , Well its made in Korea & its got a decent interior & decent engine from Nissan,and a decent price, not a big threat to the toyota’s & honda ,
    but to sell these during this period hope luck favours safrane!

  11. i think its a good car for the price.
    it has alot of options…and this V6 is not that weak…its true its size is small…but still its a good car

  12. well..itz got an impressive list of features and options..v6 2.3L, no comments on that!!..and the design; well, i would prefer to drive a corolla over this any day!

  13. and Mash…I had visited the Suzuki showroom day before yesterday..the engine options avilable for the 2009 Grand Vitaras are 2.4L and 3.2 V6 …the 2.4L is priced at 88K and the 3.2 v6 comes for 106 K…

  14. ^^^^^ oopss…sorry abt tat Mash..was checkin the 2008 vitara spec all this while..hw stupid 😆

  15. a good family car!! 😎

  16. regarding your rivew, the X-type got 2.1 V6 👿

  17. Author

    True. I forgot about that stupid car. I’ll leave that comment on for now, since I don’t think that stupid Jag will last much longer.

  18. i stupidly love that car, even if it has 10 million problems,
    you know, 2003 3.0 X-type costs less than sh.t nowadays.thats why i only love used jags 😎 .

  19. I like the new jags. by design. I have no idea of what their strange names are LOL. but they look good. like that two door one with a last name, Portfolio.

  20. As Tamzed said, this is just a re engined Nissan Maxima. The Maxima is a popular large car in NZ with an award wining 3.5 litre engine and striking design. However it has one major flaw that will prevent me ever owning one (I’ll rather keep my old Renaults)and that is the rediculous small boot opening. Renault could have taken a very good car in the Maxima/Samsung/and turned it into a realy practical new Safrane by making it a hatchback on the lines of the original Safrane (or a combined boot/hatchback like the new Skodas. Renault have a long reputation of making paractical hatchbacks going back to the Renault 16 (I know I’ve got one). They have missed a great oportunity with the new Safrane.

  21. x-types are dirt cheap now! The 3.0 had great handling being an AWD..Had a frend sell his 2005 jag x-type 3.0 for 45k to 4×4 motors, because noone else was ready to buy it ! I think he sold it at the right time because i could feel the gear shifts going, gave a major jerk shifting from 1st to 2nd, even in medium throttle.

  22. From ITALY:
    Peccato perchè pare che non sarà importata sui nostri mercati europei. Un’ammiraglia Renault ad un costo competitivo, con una discreta linea e una buona meccanica poteva avere discrete possibilità di fare bene anche qui da noi.
    Le vecchie “R25? e “Safrane” non sono andate poi tanto male sui nostri mercati. Peggio ha fatto l’ultima ammiraglia, la “Vel Satis”, forse perchè troppo originale e poco elegante.

  23. was on my way to pick a Mazda6 while I got a look at the Safrane. They cost the same, though the Safrane definitely looks classier. I’ve been advised against renaults for the UAE. Now I’m confused. Any suggestions?

  24. Nissan is (almost entirely) owned by Renault, and Samsung Motors is also Renaults property. Why say that this car is not ‘Renault’?

  25. Hey ,
    I need to buy car wood so please can someone give me an idea?

  26. I need the intelligent remote cover how to get it, unable to find anywhere in Saudi Arabia can you please help me, even Renault showroom is unable to provide one

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