21st Century : Cars : Renault Avantime
The Geneva motor show in March saw the unveiling of a new Renault concept car which leads the way in opening up a long forgotten niche - that of a luxurious Grand Tourer Coupé with space for four adults to relax in comfort.
In the 1920's and '30's Renault's main products were luxurious sports models like the 1929 eight-cylinder Reinastella and 1930 Nervastella, driven by Royalty and Europe's aristocracy. The AVANTIME takes some inspiration from these powerful Grand Tourers, built to cover large distances in great comfort and style, whilst focusing firmly on the future.
AVANTIME, illustrates in a forthright manner Renault's ability to shape the future of the motor car. The manufacturer is convinced that there is room in the market for a new breed of coupe, targeted at a customer group seeking the visual distinction, rarity and driving enjoyment of a coupe with the luxury of space and comfort found in a large car or monospace, all wrapped up in a vehicle which is technologically advanced and forward looking.
The Renault AVANTIME will kindle the flames of driving passion and enjoyment, due principally to the power of its 3-litre 24 valve, V6 quad-cam engine, pumping out 250 bhp through a manual, 6-speed gearbox and its lightweight aluminium frame. The owner of an AVANTIME will rediscover the fundamentals of the true GT (performance, safety, dynamic handling and comfort) but they will also cross the threshold of a novel style of driving thrill, courtesy of superb visibility through the large glass area and full length glass roof providing an ever-changing landscape unfolding beyond the vehicle's windows.
A new breed of GT coupe
Occupying the middle ground between coupe, touring estate and even monospace, AVANTIME achieves a fusion of hitherto incompatible features. It marries the distinctive looks and prestige of the coupe, yet being mid-way in height between a conventional coupe and a 4x4 or monospace, it has the advantages of a raised driving position, excellent visibility and the spaciousness of a 4x4 or monospace.
Drawing on the VEL SATIS' twin door body structure as well as its wide openings with their innovative mechanisms, AVANTIME offers easy access for all its occupants. Providing four plush seats, a powerful yet flexible engine and the latest in auto technology, AVANTIME invites you to travel in a degree of comfort and safety normally reserved for top-of-the-range saloons.
Design credentials drawn from the VEL SATIS
A worthy descendent of the VEL SATIS, AVANTIME is a coupé of non-traditional design exuding dynamism and unabashed modernity. With its straight body lines and ridged pillars and waistline, AVANTIME sets out in contemporary format the shape of Renault's forthcoming models.
With its thrusting front end, AVANTIME espouses a dynamism underscored by its V-shaped headlamps and air-intakes. The vehicle's "forward motion" is accentuated by the VEL SATIS-inspired large, vertical, rounded rear window. Its flush, large 20 inch Speedline alloy wheels and special Michelin tyres further serve to enhance the impression of power.
AVANTIME boasts an exceptional level of visibility and luminosity. The continuous line of windows and absence of side pillars presents a broad, seamless expanse of glass. This novel ratio of bodywork to window area is underscored by the two-tone effect created by the exposure of aluminium on the rear pillars, cant rail and windscreen pillar, setting the vehicle's slender profile into sharp relief.
The roof is made entirely from strengthened heat-reflecting glass which further enhances the feeling of luminosity. Engendering, at the same time, a sense of unfettered freedom, it adds an extra dimension of pleasure to the journey at hand. With a glass roof and the side windows fully retracted, AVANTIME brings the sky flooding in, unleashing the hedonistic delights of the cabriolet.
Inside: elegant, discreet luxury that is unmistakably French
The spacious GT Coupe brings characteristics hitherto unknown in the world of the traditional coupe. The spacious interior provides four luxury sports seats covered in a special design of Bridge of Weir leather with built-in safety belts, plus an excellent level of in-car comfort, particularly for rear-seated passengers who also have individual sports seats like those in the front and pull-out reading lights.
Their freedom of movement into and out of the vehicle is facilitated in two ways - by the long door with its "parallel-opening hinge mechanism" and by the automatic lowering of the rear-side window linked to the folding forward of the front seat. The impression of space is far beyond that usually encountered in a coupe.
The AVANTIME's rear portions incorporate a luggage compartment of innovative design and versatile function. A special section for small items of luggage has been designed beneath the compartment floor. A further neat touch is the fitting of a luggage lashing system using retractable straps.
AVANTIME expresses most fluently the new Renault philosophy. A subtle blend of high-tech and high-touch with simplicity. The combination of leather, aluminium and cloth, free of any hint of extravagance, embodies the elegant, discreet luxury that is so unmistakably French - an environment that does not seek to impress with lots of switches and buttons but with simple elegance.
The latest in engine design, and discreet equipment for safety and comfort
Renault sport has developed a high performance version of the 3 litre, 24 valve V6 engine already powering the Laguna and Espace, with a 6-speed manual gearbox. With equally powerful "green" credentials, this unit already meets Euro 2000 emission standards. Packing 250 bhp and torque in excess of 300Nm, AVANTIME could make a plausible case for admission to the race track, except its calling lies in another direction. Rather its forte is long journeys at the effortless speed associated with the Grand Touring tradition.
Just like the VEL SATIS, AVANTIME comes fitted with four large (245-section) PAX system tyres from Michelin. They allow the driver to journey on with a flat tyre, maintaining a speed of 50 mph over a distance of more than 125 miles, in total safety.
Again, as on the VEL SATIS, the "hands-free card", which emits a signal that is permanently being sought by the car, automatically unlocks the doors and disengages the engine immobiliser as the driver approachs the vehicle. The card is then inserted into the dashboard and the driver can start the car. The "parallel- opening hinge mechanism" means the long doors afford easy access to the cabin whilst maintaining a normal opening width for tight car parks.
Blending perfectly with the AVANTIME's underlying philosophy, travel support in the form of the latest on-board telematics is also on offer. With a Pioneer DVD (digital video disc) at its heart and a retractable wide format screen which folds out from the centre of the dashboard, the system provides those on board with guidance and navigation backed up with a multimedia array of tourist and cultural information. Travel, with AVANTIME, takes on a whole new dimension.
To complement this system, rear-seat passengers also have access to a portable DVD player which can be detached from the central rear console, plus two wide-format screens positioned in the backs of the front seats. With this arrangement they can, if they wish, follow the same information as the front passengers or take in a film with sound and picture quality worthy of the cinema.
Transverse 2946cc 24 valve V6