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Geneva show: More Renault concepts on the way

Rounded off: The curvy current Renault design strategy previewed by the 2010 DeZir concept (pictured) is quickly spreading across the range.

Two Renault concept cars to conclude roll-out of new design strategy by September

7 Mar 2013


RENAULT will unveil two concept cars between now and the Frankfurt motor show in September, the final chapters in its design strategy, in which each car represents a stage in life.

Representing the themes ‘play’ and ‘wisdom’, the concepts will point to future vehicles at the smallest and largest ends of Renault’s product portfolio – in other words replacements for the Twingo city car (or Wind convertible) and Laguna mid-size sedan.

So far Renault has only applied its current curvy design language to cars at the small end of the spectrum – the Zoe, Clio and Captur – so how it translates to larger cars will be met with some scrutiny.

Speaking with Australian media at the Geneva motor show, Renault senior vice president of design Laurens van den Acker said the company’s voluptuous Latin-themed styling was at odds with the increasingly hard-edged, Germanic forms adopted by competitors.

He said applying the styling to larger cars would be more difficult than with the young, muscular and fun Clio and Captur but saw this as an opportunity for Renault to stand out from the crowd.

“The fact it is hard is in fact a good sign because if it was easy everybody would do it. I think it should be hard, the things we try because it will separate us from the rest.

 center imageLeft: Renault senior vice president of design Laurens van den Acker

“When we get to a bigger crossover or a Laguna it can become more stretched and more tense.”

Mr Van den Acker used Aston Martin as an example of as brand successfully using soft surfaces on large cars.

“There is a lot more tension in the surfaces (on an Aston) so I don’t think (larger Renaults) will be as puffy as a Clio but you need to imagine that we stretch it in one arc like a balloon that is what we have tried and it gives us good results,” he said.

“We are working very hard on the bigger cars in our line-up at the moment and the results so far are promising.”

At the 2012 Paris motor show Mr Van den Acker said it was not yet decided whether the next Megane would be a big brother to the Clio or little brother to the Laguna but at Geneva this week, he was closer to a conclusion.

“If I had to describe the three cars I would say the Clio is a university student that is young and full of ideas and up and coming.

“The Megane for me is a student that just started working in his first job for three years, so he is looking up, he is regarding his boss and that is why the Megane will not be as much the big brother of the Clio and looking down (but) he is actually looking up and wants to move up.

“The Laguna, the big car, is the managing director and that car needs to have status and seriousness and appeal.”

In Australia the Laguna is substituted by the South Korean Renault Samsung SM5 – sold here as the Latiude – but Mr Van den Acker said a merging of vehicles between the French and Korean sides of the operation was likely and that the Captur would be the first Renault sold in Korea virtually unchanged.

“You don’t have the two brands (Renault and Samsung) competing in the same market so in my view there is nothing stopping us from sharing more and more.

“So far we haven’t done it, we have given Renault Samsung unique sheetmetal but from a business case perspective frankly it doesn’t make much sense so I can see that we would merge the two brands more and more.”

With Renault being one of the few mainstream brands adopting a soft and sensual design theme, Mr Van den Acker believed the only other brand who could carry it off at the moment was the Italian Alfa Romeo and went as far as comparing Renault design to Ferraris of the 1950s and 60s.

He said the badge-led frontal designing would create an iconic Renault identity that would make the cars recognisable as Renaults even if the badges were removed.

“I think a good identity is an identity you can recognise without a logo – that’s a sign of having a very good face … if you took it off you couldn’t put a Volkswagen badge on the car, you couldn’t put a Ford badge on the car so we are in the process of developing a good iconic face.”

He said his task to “reinvent a completely new chapter” for Renault led him to use concept cars communicate and sell his vision within the company while gauging public and media reaction.

“It has been really fun and you will see some fun show cars this year between now and Frankfurt,” he said.

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