Renault unveiled the Initiale Paris concept at Frankfurt, designed as a replacement model for the Renault Espace and also to show Renault’s thinking for a premium brand. Renault has produced large cars in the past, but like its French counterparts, Peugeot and Citroën, has struggled to compete with German premium brands.
The Initiale Paris concept was displayed together with six other Renault concept cars that have appeared at shows over the past few years. Initiale Paris is seen as the seventh in a family of concepts designed to demonstrate how Renault can produce different vehicles for different life stages of their owners.
Axel Breun, Renault’s Design Director for concept cars explains: “From the very beginning, we had in mind to create a whole range of concept cars, a real family; that’s why we call it a life circle that we have represented here. It starts with falling in love with Dezir in 2009, then we had Captur, R-Space to show a very sporty family car, Frenzy for a car to work with, then Twin Run gives the next idea for the Twingo range. Now we are in wisdom, because at the end of the life circle you reach a certain wisdom. We call it wisdom because we think there are a lot of Renault essentials in this car. It also gives a hint of the next generation of Espace, but also of what might become a new Renault brand, Initiale Paris. It’s just a first step in that direction because we want to go into the premium segment.”
The Initiale Paris concept has the appearance of an SUV, although Breun says it is a mix: “We took the best of everything. From the sedan, we have something we call ‘statutaire,’ the statue of a big front grille; the sculpturing of a body from an SUV, we took the high stance of the car and the very big wheels; and from the MPVs, the interior, so lots of interior space and light coming through the roof. It’s a departure from today’s Espace, clearly for long journeys, for comfort with beautiful materials, but moving away from today’s Espace, which was this one box design. We have done five evolutions of the Espace, and we have come to the point where you have to start again.
Externally, Breun said that the Initiale Paris concept gives a very close look at the next-generation Espace. “We’re a bit more conceptual with the interior. We have suspended, aircraft-style seats and console—some [of the car's details] will go into production vehicles.
“The inspiration came very much from lightweight structures. When you open the door, you see this structure of the lower panel, which develops into the floor. You see the roof, where the structure of the car becomes a map of Paris, milled out of aluminum.”
Aerodynamic flaps are said to improve airflow along the sides of the car, and the alloy wheels are designed to show their lightweight structure. The production car will be around 250 kg (550 lb) lighter than the current Espace. Power will come from a downsized turbodiesel engine producing around 200 hp (149 kW).