“The concept car is to the production model what haute-couture is to ready-to-wear: A reservoir of ideas, a surprising, innovative and inviting showcase setting the stage for future production models and reflecting current trends in research, innovation, styling and creativity. This expression of ‘haute couture’, highlighting Renault designers’ passion for cars, is behind the motoring innovations of tomorrow.” Patrick le Quément, Senior Vice President, Corporate Design, Renault.
Concept cars from some manufacturers make a brief appearance in the limelight and then depart from the stage, never to be seen again. Renault’s philosophy towards concept cars is different – they are viewed as clear indications of intent. One has only to look at previous Renault concepts such as Vel Satis and Avantime, and compare their design characteristics with those of the current Renault range, to see the linear progression between them.
Renault manages creativity and design in a very specific way. The Company brings together people of different nationalities and cultures, at diverse styling centres such as the facilities in Barcelona and Paris, and encourages assignments in other cultural fields and contexts (such as product design, furniture, art and architecture). Designers are thus able to gain inspiration directly from the cultural trends emerging in the world around them.
The idea is to embody Renault’s specific vision of the car, based on an interpretation of Frenchness which can be summed up in four words: Charm, intelligence, vision and sensuality. The mix of nationalities and the influence of various cultures with Renault Design Centres, are the filter through which these elements must pass in order to give Renault its own unique sense of identity.
The first volume car from Renault to truly embody the new Renault design philosophy was the Megane II. With its dynamic, distinctive silhouette and assertive character, it set a design direction for future Renault models which has been followed by Modus and most recently, New Clio 3
The Renault design objective is for its cars to stand out as distinctive in each product category, and to appeal to the emotions without sacrificing functionality and practicality. Equally important is an air of robustness and attention to detail. As le Quément put it at the launch of Megane II, “Our intention was to embody French charm, but at the same time, express the same rigour and engineering mastery as German models.”
This is not to say that every Renault will look alike, or even share the same family “face”; rather, Renault models will maintain their distinctive appearance while remaining true to the Company’s overall design ethos.
Interior design is as much an area of evolution for Renault as exterior appearance. Today’s Renault models boast the ‘High Tech, High Touch’ philosophy with which le Quément imbued the interior of Vel Satis, with complex technology hidden behind panels to give an uncluttered look to cabin facias. The Talisman concept car of 2001 introduced Touch Design, aimed at creating an ideal relationship between man and machine. Through shape and materials, each element – switchgear, handles, gear stick, steering wheel, and stalks – suggests its function and invites its user to touch it. This is what Renault terms ‘simplexity’ – the transformation of necessarily complex technology into something simple to use.
As an example of the latest Renault design trends, the Egeus Concept is a good example. Egeus presents Renault’s concept for an upmarket full-sized SUV, combining elegance and luxury with a sporty and dynamic driving experience in a “tall Coupe SUV” body style.
Its design is a natural continuation of the previous concept cars, Wind and Fluence, and carries echoes of a top-of-the-range saloon. Its flowing, homogenous lines have nothing of the angular styling usually associated with SUVs.
With its longer bonnet, shorter front and rear overhang, and rounded rear wings; Egeus has a dynamic, powerful character. Its 22-inch wheels combine with enhanced ground clearance to give the car its solid, foursquare stance.
Inside, Egeus features four independent wraparound seats. Those in front pivot outwards, and can drop by 70 mm for ease of access. The rear doors are hinged at the back, and with no B-pillar, access to the rear seats is completely unobstructed.
The bodywork is finished in “Cythère Blue”, while the swooping curves of the dashboard evoke a manta ray. Together with the blue tones of the interior trim, the effect is to evoke an underwater world.
The cabin has a warm, welcoming atmosphere thanks to the glazed roof and a central strip with two transparent sections, and leather upholstery in woven beige tones, inspired by a pixilated image of a setting sun.
At the rear, the luggage compartment has a split-level opening, with a lift-up hatch and a motorized, drop-down lower section that includes a sliding tray for effortlessly loading heavy or bulky objects. The height of this tray can be electronically adjusted to reconfigure the boot’s interior space.
The side door handles are flush-fitting so as not to detract from the streamlined sides. An optical sensor detects an approaching hand and pushes the handle out a few centimetres, making it easy to grasp.
The GPS navigation system calculates the recommended speed, which is then shown in the centre of the speedometer dial, with its analogue and digital displays. LEDs around the dial flash to alert drivers if the recommended speed is exceeded.
When in off-road mode, an indicator on the instrument panel activates to show the car’s attitude relative to the horizontal, and it will alert the driver if there is any risk of roll-over.
The intuitive controls are true to the principles of Touch Design. The central rotary speed selector benefits from simple ergonomic styling. The central multimedia control lever is intuitive in use, while the steering wheel-mounted controls mirror the natural curve of the hand.
Egeus is powered by a 185 kW 3.0-litre V6 dCi diesel engine, longitudinally mounted. It meets Euro 4 emission standards and is fitted with a particulate filter. The engine is coupled to a seven-speed flick-shift automatic transmission, which ensures a high level of driving comfort while substantially reducing fuel consumption and CO² emissions. The full-time four-wheel drive system automatically apportions power to the wheels with the most grip, ensuring optimum traction under all circumstances.