The Renault Initiale Paris is the sixth concept car in the design strategy initiated by Renault design boss Laurens van den Acker, the ex-Mazda man responsible for the Japanese carmaker’s previous Nagare design language.
Renault’s “life cycle” design strategy has six stages in life – Love (DeZir coupe), Explore (Captur crossover), Family (R-Space MPV), Work (Frendzy LCV), Play (Twin’Z and Twin’Run small hatches) and Wisdom (Initiale Paris). All six were present at IAA Frankfurt.
These concept cars aren’t just mere flights of fancy, and are linked to future production models. The Captur compact crossover has already been launched, the Twin’Z hints at the next-gen Twingo and the Initiale Paris is a preview of the next-generation Espace MPV. The current Espace IV has been around since 2003, a time when Renault favoured sharp edges.
Where’s the Paris in this car? Renault says that the concept’s structural composition gives a nod to the Grand Palais and the Eiffel Tower, iconic Parisian monuments. The most formal homage to the City of Love is made by the car’s aluminium and plexiglass roof. Milled directly out of the main body, it depicts a map of Paris – solid and transparent – showing the city’s districts and arteries and the River Seine.
Under the hood is a dCi 130 engine tuned for generous torque (400 Nm) across a broad operating range. Overall, the concept engine emits 40 g/km less CO2 and burns 25% less fuel than a diesel unit with equivalent performance.
Two new directions are being explored with the concept engine. One is twin-turbo tech, where a small, low-inertia turbo is used for low engine speeds and a second turbo kicks in for higher rpms. Torque is generous from low speed – with 90% on hand from 1,500 rpm – for good acceleration.
The concept engine also uses steel pistons to reduce friction. Steel pistons dilate less than aluminium ones, resulting in enhanced piston-to-cylinder wall clearances at high temperatures. Lower friction means lower fuel consumption. And to keep them light, the pistons are hollowed out, the same design as that used in Renault’s F1 engine.
The second experiment is shift-by-wire control for the EDC dual-clutch transmission. This system, borrowed from F1, enhances the precision and smoothness of the controls. It also has a styling advantage as the gearstick can be made slimmer and the floating console has no cables to conceal.
Bose designed a custom audio system for the Initiale Paris. Discreet and fully integrated in the cabin, the powerful system (32 speakers, seven bass-reflex enclosures, two built-in subwoofers, 12-channel digital amplifier, Bose’s Centerpoint signal processing) signals the upcoming arrival on Renault models of Surround Sound, an “enveloping and rich audio experience close to that of a live concert.”