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by Tim Beissmann

UPDATED June 30 with comments from Renault Australia.

Renault of Europe has released the full details of its Renault Wind compact coupe-roadster ahead of its launch in the UK and Slovenia in July and other western European markets from September.

Renault Australia managing director, Rudi Koenig, today confirmed the Wind will not be coming to Australia in the short term.

“It’s not coming to Australia, it’s not in our product plans here. We’ve got the Megane Coupe-Cabriolet that we’re launching in October, the new Magane hatch, the Fluence, the new Megane RenaultSport 250, the new Kangoo … we’ve got a lot of activity this year, so it’s not part of our plans,” Mr Koenig said.

He said the Wind was predominantly a low-volume “image car” for the brand and admitted Renault was trying to rationalise its range this year with a focus on vehicles with larger volume potential.

“It’s a small car with a similar concept to Coupe-Cabriolet but a smaller version and we feel that with Clio Sport, Megane Sport and Coupe-Cabriolet we’ve got that kind of car covered already in our range.

“At this stage we’ve got other priorities. Certainly you never say never, but it’s certainly not in our current plans for the market here,” Mr Koenig said.

At 3.83m long, the Wind slots in between the Twingo and Clio and Renault describes it as a “compact everyday car … wholly dedicated to the pleasure of its occupants”.

Renault of Europe product manager, Beatrice Foucher-Sybord, said the Wind was aimed at Europe’s small B-segment convertible market, which represents between 75,000 and 150,000 cars per year.

She said research showed that there was a market for an inexpensive vehicle like the Wind targeted at the young and young at heart.

“Wind is clearly aimed at winning over new customers. It will enable us to reach out to motorists with high aspirations who currently don’t feel naturally drawn to our brand. We want Wind to carve out a significant place in the small, fun to drive car market,” Ms Foucher-Sybord said.

Its party piece is the electric rotating roof which pivots open in 12 seconds and rest above the boot, meaning that luggage space is always the same regardless of roof position. At just 21.8kg, Renault says the Wind’s roof is around 80 percent lighter than most folding hardtops.

The Wind will be available from launch with two petrol engines: a 74kW/152Nm 1.4-litre turbo and a 98kW/160Nm naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre, both teamed to a five-speed manual transmission. The turbo uses a combined 6.3 litres/100km and 145g/km CO2 while the larger 1.6 is marginally thirstier at 7 litres/100km and 165g/km CO2.

Renault says the Wind is “an ingenious illustration of Renault’s new brand signature ‘Drive the Change’”, so like it or not, it seems like we are going to see more designs like this from the French brand in the future.

It certainly looks modern from the outside with a steeply-raked bonnet, high and muscular rear, smatterings of chrome and an overall balance between sharp lines and necessary curves. But inside it’s all just a bit ’90s with too many round and bubbly surfaces, buttons and dials. Despite the dated appearance however, the Wind’s audio system is iPod/USB/MP3 compatible and features hands-free Bluetooth for mobile phones.

Renault says it tried to create a cockpit feel for the interior, with low-set sports seats and instruments drawing inspiration from a motorbike to add to the sense of motoring enjoyment. The translucent instrument panel cowl is available in both the pictured red and a more subdued black.

Safety is strong with ESC and understeer control, cruise control with speed limiter and automatic headlights standard along with front and head/thorax lateral airbags which are incorporated in the seats. Braking from 50km/h in the 1131kg coupe (1173kg for the 1.6) takes 10.5m while it pulls up from 100km/h in just under 40m.

The Wind will be manufactured at the Novo mesto plant in Slovenia on the same line as the Twingo and Clio 2 while the engines are built in France and Spain.




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