Renault will completely renew its passenger car line-up within five years, with some models set for the chopping block, others to be completely changed in concept, and all poised to adopt a new corporate identity.
The Renault Clio IV (below) was the first production model to showcase design chief (and former Mazda design boss) Laurens van den Acker’s new 'family face' for the French brand last year, followed by the Captur sub-compact SUV which this week had its official international launch.
Executives speaking at the launch of the Captur confirmed that next year both the Twingo sub-light hatchback and Espace people mover would switch to new generations as the next models to fall into line with the corporate face shown on the Clio and Captur.
Although next year a van den Acker-penned corporate face will be grafted onto the current generation Megane, in 2015 the small hatchback line will switch to an all-new generation.
The European-based Laguna and South Korean-made Latitude mid-sized sedans will merge into one model – and neither name may be retained.
That will leave Koleos – by 2015 a nine year old model – and potentially a reborn Vel Satis luxury car to complete the range renewal before the Alpine supercar lobs late in 2016.
The Twin’Z concept previewed last month – shown above with van den Acker (left) – and the Twin Fun concept to debut in Monaco later in May, are both reportedly close to the production Twingo. Renault Australia corporate communications manager Emily Ambrosy said that while previous concepts such as the Captur transitioned quite closely to the production model, she couldn't confirm that this would be the case for Renault's new sub-light car.
While the two concepts demonstrate two different treatments of a small car, the forthcoming concept – not officially named Twin Fun – “is more along the sport lines [and] Twin’Z demonstrates the brand’s enivironmental awareness”, according to Ambrosy. The production Twingo will also be “rear-wheel-drive, in collaboration with Daimler and Renault”.
The Twin Fun has been caught driving spiritedly by a YouTube user completely undisguised and clearly showing its rear-wheel-drive dynamics (see below) and Renault 5 Turbo inspiration.
The Twingo will essentially twin with the Smart Fortwo, but while Renault deputy program director Christophe Pejout confirmed that both a short wheelbase two-seater and longer wheelbase four-door “four or five seater” will be made, he refused to commit to both bodystyles for the Twingo. Renault Australia has confirmed its interest in the new generation Twingo, but says a business case must stack up.
Pejout also confirmed that the next Espace people mover would become more like a “crossover” model, in the style of a high-riding four-wheel-drive but perhaps without the expensive and heavy all-wheel-drive components.
He likened the morphing of the Espace – which may not retain that name – to the new Captur launching this week, saying that the Captur effectively replaces the Modus small MPV in Europe, available in two-wheel-drive only with similar packaging but with the high driving position of an SUV.
The deputy program director also confirmed that the next Espace would be the first Renault built on the company’s new CFM1 modular platform, to be shared with future Nissan product. CFM1 will be similar in its approach to Volkswagen’s MQB platform, sharing major engineering designs between models of various sizes.
Just as VW’s MQB will eventually be shared between the Golf small car, Passat mid-sizer and various SUV models, Renault’s CFM1 will following the next Espace also form the basis of the next generation Megane, Latitude/Laguna, and Koleos.
That’s in addition to various Nissan models, including the next X-Trail and a premium small hatchback for Europe.
While Pejout wouldn’t discuss the future of the Koleos, he did reiterate the comments made by van den Acker at the Paris motor show last September, confirming that the Laguna and Latitude would merge into one global car. The final concept car as part of van den Acker’s holistic renewal of the brand will be a next Laguna/Latitude concept, the timing of which is currently unclear.
Pejout added that a revived Vel Satis luxury car is still on the cards, but the original proposal considered to twin a Renault model off a Mercedes-Benz E-Class platform has been discarded. If Renault were to bring back the Vel Satis, it likely would not use the same hatchback design, but rather adopt a more mainstream sedan bodystyle.
With the regular Renault model range overhauled, 2016 is the date set for the long-awaited return of the Alpine sports car. While executives are tight lipped about the size and price of the revived model line, rumours suggest a 60,000 euro target price – the same price as the mid-engined, rear-wheel-drive Alfa Romeo 4C set to launch next year.
According to Ambrosy, the new-generation Alpine - shown in concept form above - must “pay homage to the Alpines of the past, such as the A110, and be relevant for today’s market.
“[Engineers’] key focus is to create a vehicle that is lightweight, with a high power to-weight ratio, that is engaging to drive.
“It’s about taking the strengths of the Alpine nameplate, and creating a model for today’s consumer.”
Renault Australia has confirmed it has expressed interest in the Alpine for our market.