In 1978 a car with electric front windows and central locking represented the last word in luxury to the majority of British drivers. Yet such decadent items were standard equipment on the Renault 20 TS, together with power-assisted steering, tinted glass and velour upholstery. It was even advertised on ITV by Sir Stirling Moss.
In the early 1970s, Renault commenced work on the 20/30, its first large saloons since the demise of the Frégate in 1960. The 30 TS with a 2.7-litre V6 engine debuted at the 1975 Geneva motor show and was an extremely desirable alternative to the likes of the Ford Granada Ghia and the Audi 100 C2. Renault unveiled the less elaborately appointed 20 TL with the 1,647cc four-cylinder engine from the R16 at the end of the year.
July of 1977 marked the debut of the 20 TS as a mid-range model. The interior was almost as comfortable as that of the 30 TS although, at £4,725, it was considerably cheaper. Power was from 1,995cc SOHC “Douvrin” engine subsequently used in the Peugeot 505 and the Citroën CX Athena, and the top speed was 104mph. “Whatever the distance and whatever the speed, you will certainly travel in style,” the brochure assured would-be owners.
The British motoring press was rather enthusiastic about the Renault and Car evaluated the 20TS opposite the Audi 100 Avant 5S and the Saab 900 GLS. It was a trio with “standards of ride, comfort and noise suppression little different from the very best” at a “half-Jaguar price”. The magazine concluded the Renault was “the car by which its opponents here, as well as many others, must be judged”.