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Renault Initiale Paris concept (2013) at Frankfurt motor show

Tue, 10 Sep 2013

The Renault Initiale Paris concept previews the next-gen Espace, with a view to shifting the new MPV upmarket. Whether a Renault people carrier can be taken seriously as an upmarket proposition is up to you, but there’s no arguing with some of the exceptional attention to detail dotted around the Initiale Paris.

What’s under the Renault Initiale Paris’s bonnet?

Renault’s idea of the ultimate diesel engine. Based on humble 1.6-litre dCi architecture, the engine has been tuned to develop 295lb ft – up from 236lb ft in the standard version. It emits 40g less CO2 per kilometre travelled, and burns 25% less fuel than an equivalently powerful diesel, says Renault.

Inside the engine, Renault has used hollowed-out, low-friction steel pistons, employing the same design techniques used in Renault’s championship-winning Formula One V8s. The Initiale Paris’s engine is mated to Renault’s six-speed dual-clutch transmission, operated via steering-column-mounted paddleshifters, as per the new Renaultsport Clio 200 Turbo and Renault Clio GT.

What are the design highlights of the Renault Initiale Paris?

The wheels and cabin floor are fashioned from an intricate matrix of lattice-like framework, inspired by the Eifel Tower’s structure. It’s also a nod to old-school aeroplane frames – a theme continued with the tailfin-aping C-pillar. Inside, the seats and centre console are affixed with hidden joins, to give the impression it’s all floating in mid-air.

The roof is a particularly cool feature: milled directly into the Initiale Paris’s aluminium bodyshell is a street map of Paris itself. It’s not as useful as a sat-nav, mind, but points for imagination all the same.

Other design delights? How about the LED running lights which ‘blink’ periodically, giving the impression the Initiale Paris is alive? Or the bespoke 32-speaker Bose surround-sound system, which plays a 'tailored ambient sound' when passengers enter and exit the car? It’s all here, along with unpolished walnut cabin trim, rear-view cameras instead of door mirrors, and motorised running boards which extend from the car’s sills to help you enter and exit the private-jet-like cabin.

By Ollie Kew