Renault Wind blows into production

  • 10-May-2010 03:48 EDT
Renault_Wind-1.jpg
The Wind coupé roadster offers more rear luggage space than all of its competitors, says Renault.

Alongside a new version of its Megané convertible, Renault debuted the Wind two-seat roadster at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show. The car signals a new market segment for the French car manufacturer and also features an innovative Webasto roof system that shares much in common with a Ferrari model, according to the car’s product director, Pascal Cohen.

“The only other car that has this kind of folding roof design is the Ferrari (Superamerica), so in some ways we consider that car the benchmark for Wind,” he said. “For the roof operation, the Ferrari takes 9 s, and ours is just a little longer, but we have a trunk cover, unlike the Superamerica.”

For the record, the total time that Wind’s roof takes from closed to open is 12 s, allowing a couple of seconds for the trunk opening and shutting. Despite its compact dimensions—total length of the vehicle is 3.83 m (12.6 ft)—and its trunk-stowed roof, the luggage space remains the same with both roof up and down at 270 L (9.5 ft3). This figure is roughly the same as the larger Clio hatchback and more than any other car in its class, such as the Mini Convertible and Peugeot 207CC.

The Wind’s roof was developed with specialist supplier Webasto, said Cohen. “We chose the roof design early in the project and have been testing it for two and a half years. We had to ensure that the roof could be used on a daily basis and in any part of winter and summer.”

While Cohen doesn’t disclose how many times the roof was opened and closed in testing, he guarantees the system for life. “It is actually a very simple system, with a common axle between the trunk and the roof,” he revealed. “Operation is via just one electric motor, and it has very few moving parts—just the roof and the trunk cover.”

The new car sits on a sporty platform, that of the Clio RenaultSport. Cohen says he was keen to get the balance right between sporty and comfort, as well as keep all potential customers happy. “This is a car for men and women, for sporty people, and those who just want to have open air motoring. We work to find the right balance.”

Wind will be available with two engine options when it goes on sale in Europe in late 2010: a 1.6-L unit with 133 bhp (99 kW) that already powers RenaultSport versions of the Twingo and Clio and a 1.2-L turbocharged engine with 100 bhp (75 kW).

The design of the car is revolutionary, bordering on that of a concept car. With large 17-in wheels, low driving position, and high waistline, the car’s aim for sportiness is justified. By adopting a coupé-like shape at the rear, says Cohen, the car's proportions are maintained without having to allow for a large trunk, often a problem seen in similar vehicles in the class.

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