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First look: Ondelios signals luxury Renault crossover

Renault's 'A380': The Ondelios concept is luxury long-haul travel for the road.

Renault unveils a green-tinged jumbo ahead of Paris show world debut

Renault logo15 Sep 2008

RENAULT has signalled its intention to enter the luxury crossover segment in the “near future” with a large, six-seat concept that will make its world debut at the Paris motor show next month.

Dubbed the Ondelios, the show car looks set to materialise into a new flagship for the French brand, dethroning the ambitiously styled Vel Satis luxury sedan which has struggled overseas since its 2001 debut and was deemed too risky for sale in Australia.

In a statement released last week, Renault said the Ondelios was “designed for lovers of long-haul travel” and epitomised the company’s “vision of the high-end car of the near future”.

Although the concept measures 4.8m long and 1.6m high, Renault was quick to point at that it drew on aviation themes to produce a sleek and aerodynamic 0.29Cd body.

Other fuel-saving and environmental initiatives onboard the Ondelios is the use of recyclable natural flax fibre in some of the car’s structural components – complementing the carbon fibre body work and polycarbonate glazed areas – and the use of a diesel-electric hybrid powerplant.

35 center imageA high-output 150kW version of Renault’s 2.0-litre dCi turbo-diesel engine is paired with two 20kW electric motors – one each for the front and rear axle. They operate in mild hybrid mode, giving the engine extra boost as required and recovering energy during braking.

While the front motor enables fuel-saving stop-start capability, the motor mounted on the rear axle drives the rear wheels when the electronic stability control sensors detect a loss of traction, thereby giving the Ondelios the capability of a 4WD wagon.

According to Renault, the hybrid can produce 450Nm of torque between 1700rpm and 3800rpm, and – driving through a seven-speed double-clutch gearbox – can accelerate from 0-100km/h in 7.8 seconds. Economy? Renault claims the vehicle will return 4.5L/100km, and emit just 120g/km of CO2.

“Ondelios is inspired by motion rather than speed and is a whole new response to the call of the open road,” said Renault design director Patrick Le Quement. “We think of it as made from a single material, where the body and glazed areas merge into one. Ondelios is a glimpse of what the automobile might be in the medium term future.” The smooth, fluid lines of the big French jumbo’s “ethereal” exterior design are meant to make the vehicle appear as though it glides over the ground. The LED headlamps and boomerang-shaped tail-lights are said to suggest a “flowing motion”. The rear light cluster is also built into the bodywork and ringed with air extractors to control the flow of air from the wheelarches.

Other notable exterior features include butterfly-wing side doors and 23-inch aluminium alloy wheels (with propeller-like hubs). The interior includes a three-row 2+2+2 seating layout, a full complement of advanced communication and entertainment equipment, and a hi-tech three-layer dashboard carrying with a wide range of driver aid and ride information.

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