On January 1, 1999, the bus divisions of Renault V.I. (Véhicules Industriels) and Iveco merged and formed Irisbus. Just a few years later, Volvo Trucks took over Renault V.I. and Iveco acquired all Irisbus shares, thus becoming the sole owner. In May 2013 the Irisbus name was dropped altogether and Iveco Bus was born. That’s the history of the French-Italian alliance in less than a nutshell, but it will do for now.
One of the Renault models that was brought into the mix was the Iliade coach, introduced in 1997. It was essentially a modernized version of the previous 1983-1996 FR1-series.
After Renault had left the building, the Iliade soldiered on, virtually unchanged, till the end of its production run near late 2006. These later Iliades, roughly 15 to 20 years old by now, are powered by Renault’s 11.1 liter, dCi 11 turbodiesel, meeting the Euro 3 emission standards that came into effect in 2000. The engine’s maximum power output was 313, 362 or 431 hp.
The huge diamond logo on the front and the Renault name on the back of Obermann’s mighty fine coach are an afterthought. Or a tribute, if you wish.
It certainly is a quintessential European coach from a not-so-distant past, still in an excellent condition.
The overall length is 12 m (more precisely: 11,995 mm), that’s around 39’4”. These days, the maximum length in Europe for a bus or coach with two axles is 13.50 m (44’3”).
There were three Iliade trim levels; the TE was the base model, then the RT and the series’ plush end boss was the GT. Gran Turismo, which in this specific case translates as a big, comfy long-distance cruiser for tourists.
Now wait a minute here, it clearly says GTX on the front doors. But this definitely can’t be a GTX.
You see, the TEX, RTX (pictured above) and GTX were the taller high-deck Iliades. Note what must have been one of the easiest rebadges ever, just replace Renault’s front diamond logo by a lithe lil’ dolphin and call it a day.
As an aside, you may or may not recognize the Renault 19 Phase 2-face between the headlamps.
The striping and the aftermarket wheels make it look as if the coach is all set and ready for any drag strip, reaching a top speed of 100 mph at the end.
For more information, albeit in French, and an impression of the Iliade’s interior, you can page through this 1997 brochure.
Meanwhile, Iveco Bus has become one of the leading manufacturers in the business, offering a full line of transit buses and coaches. Their current long-distance coach is the Iveco Magelys. Nice workplace too!
As for the German Obermann crew, they love all king-sized Renaults of yore, the illustrious Magnum two-seaters included.