If automotive enthusiast clichés are to be believed, than in theory this is the world's most perfect car. After turning to German firms Hartge and Irmscher, the Safrane was nearly hotted-up enough to be a sort of Gallic take on the Vauxhall Lotus Carlton, but for one key difference: the Renault has all-wheel-drive.
And so what we have here is a coupé-like 5-door sedan with all-wheel-drive, a 258 horsepower twin turbocharged V6 (from the Alpine A610, no less!), and (only) a 5-speed manual transmission. Its modern equivalent would be something like the Audi A7.
Part of the reason you're wondering why you're now just learning of this majestic machine is no doubt because of its rarity: in less than two years, just 806 were made.
Today, its price would peg it around €70.000 ($~77,000 Usd.), so it was not a cheap leap of faith for the well-to-do. As it turns out, a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive French 5-door sedan competing against V8-powered German ones in a game of "Would you rather…?" is like going up against The Rock in a game of "Lift this car!": sometimes, it's better to leave things to the professionals.
The French website boiterrouge.com has a great article on the car, and they bring up one final branch to this odd family tree: the Renault Safrane Biturbo Long Cours by Heuliez. If the Alpine GTA is the Concorde of coupés, the Safrane Biturbo is the Concorde of sedans—you can see where this is going. French coachbuilder Heuliez customized a Safrane with a wagon body, two-tone paint, and gave us a photo shoot near some yachts. Bon.
Another way to look at it: a second-generation Ford Taurus SHO with all-wheel-drive and turbos. Sort of like the current Ford Taurus SHO, actually. Hmm.