Let's not forget the Encore: Renault’s second act


The Renault Encore was supposed to be the scorching ticket for 1984. The subcompact world wasn’t far too eager on 4-doorways.

The two-door seem Encore passed the litmus exam… 4-door not so considerably!

American Motors dealers were being waiting around for a wonder to carry passenger auto revenue in the early 1980s. At that time, the new-motor vehicle marketplace was being decimated by a mixture of a depressed economy, fierce level of competition from Japanese imports, large unemployment and the worst inflation in many years. AMC administration shipped that miracle in the form of the 1983 Renault Alliance subcompact, a auto so far ahead of its rivals in technological innovation, gasoline financial system and capabilities that it couldn’t assistance but offer. And for an encore, it promised to introduce a different new line of tiny vehicles as a observe up. These vehicles arrived the subsequent yr in the aptly named Renault Encore, a line of subcompact hatchbacks based mostly on the Alliance platform.

This was mostly a very good shift. Tiny hatchbacks have been really preferred in the early 1980s, accounting for two-thirds of sales in the subcompact current market, and the Encore was every little bit as advanced a products as the Alliance. On the other hand, the firm produced a person maddening mistake when introducing the Encore it provided the new automobile in both of those two- and four-doorway designs. The two-door was trim, beautiful and sporty the 4-door was unusual, distracting and, in my humble impression, homely.

There is an previous expressing in the auto business: “It expenses just as considerably to design and style an unattractive motor vehicle as it does to design a fantastic-hunting 1, so you could as very well fashion your autos to be very good-looking.” The issue was that, by 1984, AMC’s “partner,” Renault, was in entire regulate of the corporation and was contacting all the photographs. And the French imagined the four-doorway Encore looked spiffy. They licensed its production, and therefore the tooling revenue that could have been expended on a a great deal extra worthwhile item was rather put in building one particular of the sorriest-seeking cars and trucks of the decade. You may get in touch with it “AMC’s Pontiac Aztec.”

The sad thing about all of this is that AMC stylists experienced intended a new Alliance 4-door station wagon design, and it was a natural beauty — and at a time when small station wagons had been offering very very well. But the Alliance wagon finished up a stillborn solution, and only a number of grainy images keep on being of what may have been a prosperous addition to the 1984 or 1985 products line. Too lousy.

The Encore debuts

The Encore was introduced for 1984 as a follow-up to the award-profitable Alliance. In mechanical requirements, the Encore was primarily the exact same motor vehicle with entrance-wheel push, a gas-injected 1.4-liter four-cylinder as the only engine provided that to start with yr and a choice of 4- or 5-pace guide transmissions, equally that includes overdrive, or a a few-speed automated transmission. Like the Alliance, it was assembled in Kenosha, Wis., property of AMC’s major vehicle plant.

Also like Alliance, Encore boasted normal rack-and-pinion steering, electrical power entrance disc brakes, comfortable bucket seats up entrance and a properly trimmed inside. Driving the similar 97.2-inch wheelbase as Alliance, Encore available very good dealing with and a sleek, managed experience courtesy of its four-wheel independent suspension. Exclusive to the Encore was a rounded glass hatchback and a fold-down rear seat.

The roomy inside was rated for 5 travellers, which it could hold with a reasonable degree of consolation. There was plenty of headroom, when foot area was enhanced by the intelligent pedestal-mounted entrance seats that supplied generous underneath-seat home for rear passenger’s feet. The big greenhouse removed any experience of claustrophobia.

You may well believe that a compact, 1.4-liter motor creating a mere 55 hp would make for a really sluggish automobile, but you’d be incorrect. Now, I’m not indicating the Encore was a powerhouse — it certainly was not — but when geared up with either of the guide gearboxes, it was sprightly sufficient for just about any driver. Accelerating from -60 mph took 14.9 seconds, a bit leisurely, nevertheless not unconventional for that era, but the trade-off was fuel economic system of 40-in addition mpg on the highway! Portion of this was since of Encore’s trim body weight — all-around 2,010 lbs., which was about 40 lbs. far more than an Alliance. An additional reward was that the shifter was pleasantly easy to function. I would think about general performance with the automated transmission to be ample, just like several other compact vehicles of that period, and gasoline financial system took a strike, although it was even now improved than several other vehicles.

4 trim ranges had been supplied: base, S, LS and GS. Rates ranged from a reduced of $5,755 for the three-doorway base model to $7,547 for the 3-door GS design. A unique substantial-trim, constrained-availability Diamond Edition product showing up mid-yr was priced at $7,570 for the three-doorway and $7,770 for the 5-door.

Base styles were being available only in the 3-doorway configuration, and provided excellent quality vinyl upholstery. The S and LS designs, which could be had in a few- or 5-door edition, did similarly, but also made available cloth trim as an choice. Material upholstery was normal on the GS, which also highlighted leather trim as an excess-price tag possibility. Exterior shade options were being minimal to just 5 on foundation vehicles, when the other individuals had an extended color pallet from which to pick. The upper-range versions also experienced added trim on the exterior, like bright wheel hub covers on the S. The LS and GS experienced vibrant windshield moldings, grille bars and bumper strips dazzling belt moldings and entire wheel handles, alongside with greater tires. Alloy wheels, air conditioning and up-level radios had been well-liked possibilities.

The Alliance experienced been Motor Trend’s Automobile of the Yr for 1983, demonstrating how really extraordinary of a compact motor vehicle it was, and the Encore was just as fantastic, although it won no awards of excellent significance. No matter the general public responded properly, creating Encore a gross sales results in its initially year, with some 87,000-additionally units made for the model yr, whilst it did cannibalize some product sales from Alliance, which was to be anticipated. Each street tester who drove an Encore liked it, although compliments about its styling weren’t as effusive as experienced been the situation for Alliance. I really do not remember any author praising the 4-door Encore’s appears, but the two-door did occur in for some pleasant remarks.

The Encore with 4-doorways didn’t garner any praise for its styling.

Encore’s encore many years

For 1985, Encore continued to present the 1.4-liter motor as typical tools on most versions, but also launched an optional, new 1.7-liter, gasoline-injected four-cylinder engine of 77 hp for a good raise in efficiency. The 1.7-liter mill was regular on Encore GS and excess expense on other individuals. The new engine served remedy any purchaser concerns about performance, even though, obviously, the fuel economic climate was not rather as superior as the smaller engine. It represented a affordable trade-off, although.

In the meantime, the subcompact sector in America was shrinking rapidly. The higher fuel price ranges that experienced ignited incredible need for small cars had now abated, and folks were being once far more on the lookout for more substantial, much more-effective vehicles and trucks. The unexpected interest in adhere-shift cars, also a result of the wish for greater gasoline economic climate, also slackened, which harm Encore and Alliance, simply because they have been most appealing when equipped with the handbook transmissions. To counter slowing need, AMC launched a new Encore Spring Distinctive design that involved a pretty trendy two-tone color scheme, exclusive stripes and graphics, rear spoiler, color-keyed wheel covers, fog lamps, front air dam and upgraded interior trim. These characteristics represented $581 worth of optional gear at a specific price of just $281 on the Spring Distinctive. It served somewhat, even though Encore creation fell to 58,000 models for the 1985 design 12 months, the consequence of the shrinking of compact-automobile market place.

For 1986, Encore moved upscale, dropping the base model, and introducing a techie-oriented “Electronic” 3-door design equipped with a Liquid Crystal Screen (Lcd) instrument panel, a vibrant, clear display with Lcd readouts for speedometer, tachometer and fuel degree, and a detailed vacation laptop or computer. The most affordable-priced Encore, the a few-doorway S, was now $6,710, when the Digital was $7,498. Creation fell dramatically this calendar year, to just underneath 20,000 units, as fickle American customers continued to stay away from tiny, affordable cars and trucks.

When the curtain dropped

That marked the Encore’s close. For 1987, AMC made the decision to re-badge it as an Alliance hatchback in an exertion to decrease advertising and marketing charges. It appears that someplace around 5,000 1987 “Alliance Hatchbacks” had been produced just before manufacturing finished for superior. Also in 1987, Chrysler Corp. produced a offer to acquire AMC from Renault, and it experienced no use for the now-growing old Alliance they requested the line dropped. Prior to that selection, there experienced been chat of offering a benefit-priced Alliance “America” model identical in notion to the Dodge Omni and Plymouth Horizon “America” styles (i.e., properly-geared up cars offered at a discount price tag), but almost nothing arrived of that. There would be no encore for Encore. It was finis!

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