Paris Motor Show: The Renault Group’s Most Important Models
Renault has been at the sharp end of automotive development over the last few decades. Be it small-capacity turbocharging, hot-hatch development through motorsport learnings or even timeless styling executions, Renault has had a hand in shaping the world’s motoring landscape in some way, shape or form.
With a global presence, the brand is well-represented in most market segments, from entry-level cars, think Renault Kwid, to luxury SUVs. No wonder then that with all this experience and expertise, Renault has been so influential on the industry as a whole. The company’s R&D is renowned for its cutting-edge thinking and is a regular source of inspiration for other brands, who often look to Renault for answers to their own design and packaging challenges.
More recently, however, Renault has been making significant strides in the realm of powertrain development. This is no longer just about squeezing more out of a small ICE engine. Instead, the Renault brand has been looking to extract immense potential from electric motors. Whether for inner-city sustainability, combining conventional petrol engines with electric efficiency, as is the case with the new Renault Arkana, or showcasing that volts, instead of petrol fumes can also slap a smile on your face with the Renault 5 Turbo concept. Here is a list of our favourite toys, essential concepts, and production-ready vehicles the Renault Group showcased at the 2022 Paris Motor Show...
Renault R5 Turbo 3E
According to Renault, this concept was “born to drift”. Naturally, that got our attention, but there’s also so much more to the Turbo 3E than extreme performance and a rear wing with more aerodynamic sway than an aeroplane. What was the brief when conceptualising the R5? ‘Create a work of art with extreme lines inspired by the looniest corners of the gaming universe’. Well, in a nutshell, that is.
Naturally, carrying this name also came with an entirely different set of challenges: create a reiteration that hints at the history of the icons bearing the same name. A challenge in itself and one that can be a hit or a miss, and as we’ve seen from several carmakers over the years, they miss the mark quite substantially. Not here, though. Looking at this concept in the flesh, it’s like the Renault 5 Turbo 2 was made 40 years ago to be remastered one day as an electric racer.
Its figures are equally out there, with 280 kW and 700 Nm of torque available instantly thanks to its twin-engine setup, each motor located at one of the rear wheels. The 3E’s 42 kWh battery station is situated in the middle of the car, placed low into the floor to benefit the centre of gravity. While Renault didn’t publicise the exact 0-100 km/h figures, it did say that it will cover 100 metres from a standstill in a slight 3.5 secs while relentlessly accelerating to 200 km/h. Sure, it probably won’t shine at the quarter mile, but it’ll be hard to beat anywhere where a sideways approach is smiled upon.
Why it’s important: Since motorsport remains a critical component of the motoring industry, imagine having sideways thrills with a relatively clean conscience.
Alpine A110 R
Alpine’s weight-saving crusade has been relatively well-documented. The designers and engineers at Renault’s flagship performance brand have become experts in making cars go faster without necessarily piling on kilowatts. I even asked Alpine’s Head of Design, Antony Villain, if adding more power to achieve the same output isn’t more viable and cost-effective than extensive aerodynamic tweaks and weight-saving measures. He countered, saying that regulations within Alpine’s core market, France, don’t allow for such a seemingly straightforward solution with the inherent increase in emissions that go hand-in-hand with it. Read our full interview with Antony Villain in the Speed Week edition of TopGear Magazine SA...
So, no added power for the A110 R, then. Instead, it’s 34 kg lighter than the S at just 1,082 kilograms. With clever aero implementations, it has significantly less drag and more downforce than its S sibling. Add to the equation a 0-100 km/h sprint time of 3.9 seconds and improvements to the chassis, and the A110 R will make a potent track weapon built with extensive motorsport know-how. We wish it was available in SA…
Why it’s important: Less weight and better aerodynamics represent better efficiency. Apply this to EVs, and these lessons will prove immensely important.
Renault Scenic Vision
So, you get car manufacturers talking about carbon neutrality during everyday operation and then there’s Renault which looks to completely neutralise pollution during every stage of a car’s life cycle. Look, it will be a tall order, especially when knitting down to the details like a supplier’s outlook on carbon-neutral sourcing and manufacturing and even how parts are transported. According to Renault, the plan is for the brand to become pollution neutral in Europe entirely by 2040 and globally by 2050.
The Renault Scenic Vision shows that it’s not exactly such an unattainable reality by sourcing more than 70% recycled materials for the construction of the car. Then, after its operational life of rushing to and from meetings and school runs, the vehicle will be 95% recyclable. Furthermore, it uses a hybrid electric and hydrogen combined powertrain, leading to another 75% smaller footprint than a conventional BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle).
There’s an extensive list of other factoids that will appease even the bravest of climate warriors, like the black pigments in the paint that are essentially sourced from particles floating around in the atmosphere. And the seats? Well, it completely abandons the use of leather, with Renault instead using 100% low-carbon polyester.
Why it’s important: Besides its crisp cool lines, the Scenic Vision has a vital role in furthering the carbon neutrality cause.
Renault Megane E-Tech
The Megane E-Tech is less concept, less future ambition and more ready to roll… Officially unveiled to the world in September, it’s a meeting point of some of our favourite Renault styling cues. Also, it’s grown up and exchanged its fun-natured exhaust burbles for a refined, 100% electric engine and a sizable hatch, crossover-esque body. While Renault focussed on retaining all the usual Megane qualities like its beautiful lines, performance and fun-to-drive nature, which Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo describes as ‘the GTI of EVs,’ it’s evident that space and packaging have enjoyed a particular focus.
It’s 4.21 metres long with short overhangs, coupled with the inherent space savings of a small electric motor and a low-lying battery. In fact, the battery, Renault says, is the thinnest the brand has ever created for a production car, with a placed height of just 110 mm. This spacious approach is immediately evident when seated inside with a minimalistic approach to interior digitisation thanks to the enormous 24” screen further helping the cause.
As for the numbers; the Megane E-Tech with a 40 kWh battery is quoted at a 300-kilo range as per the WLTP cycle, while the 60 kWh battery derivatives will do either 450 or 470 km on a full charge with the differences boiling down to the power outputs of the respective models. The range-topping EV60 (450 km per charge) with 160 kW and 300 Nm of torque will complete the 0-100 km/h sprint in 7.4 secs. The mid-range ER60 spec, however, will drive around 470 km thanks to its reduced 96 kW and 250 Nm of torque it shares with the entry-level EV40 model. Both models will take about 10 seconds to complete the benchmark sprint.
Why it’s important: The Renault Megane has grown up without losing its coolness. Sure, it’s lost its popping and irritable engines, but it has gained so much in the process. It’s a genuinely attractive and cutting-edge car that embodies the future of Renault.
The Renault Arkana may not be the most exciting car on this list. Heck, what can beat a modern reimagination of a classic that’s built to drift… In any case, it’s a necessary car in the Renault narrative as it represents a Genesis of sorts for the carmaker’s push into local sustainability. Let me translate: The Renault Arkana will be one of the first electrically-assisted vehicles Renault will launch locally in what we hope will be the next year. Yes, it’s a hybrid. While it’ll represent massive savings when stuck in load-shedding gridlocks, it completely eliminates the range anxiety that still plagues many an EV driver.
According to Renault, up to 80% of inner-city driving can be completed with only electrical power that is then regenerated by the petrol motor. In total, this should reduce fuel consumption by around 40% compared to just ICE propulsion – imagine petrol was 40% cheaper… We tested the Renault Arkana in and around Paris and some picturesque French villages, so watch this space for our initial driving impressions.
Why it’s important: As the struggle continues to make full-fat EVs a viable option for local buyers, what with taxes, duties and infrastructure, Renault is bringing a crossover largely immune to what plagues both conventional ICE cars and EVs. A best-of-both-worlds situation, really.