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Renault's next generation MPVs

2011-03-02 08:44

PRETTY PEOPLE MOVERS: If this is the direction Renault’s designers wish to move the company’s MPVs, then family motoring has become a whole lot more appealing.

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Renault
Model R-Space
Engine 900cc turbocharged triple
Power 82kW
Torque 160Nm
Transmission Dual-clutch
Zero To Hundred 11.5 sec
Fuel Consumption 3.6l/100km
Weight 1 300kg
Renault is the master of niche family-oriented automotive products.

Mini MPVs and all manner of family motoring solutions have germinated from the French company’s design headquarters on the outskirts of Paris.

There is an issue with most family cars though, especially MPVs. Simply put, the miniature bus design aesthetic hardly appeals.

Renault’s new styling boss, Dutchman Laurens van den Acker, wants to change the way people think about MPVs.

The former Mazda designer, who took over from long-standing Renault design chief Patrick Le Quément after the Frenchman retired in 2009, is desperate to apply Renault’s design flair to MPVs.

At the Geneva auto show Renault debuted its R-Space concept, providing an interesting insight to the company’s thinking with regards to future MPVs. 

Coupe-like in profile, the R-Space features striking styling with very clean surfacing, and a glasshouse area which shrinks in size from front to rear.

Turbocharged triple

Powered by a rather small 900cc three cylinder direct-injection engine, Renault’s engineers have had the presence of mind to add turbocharging to the R-Space's triple to ensure it retains credible performance when moving about a medium-sized family.

Outputs are impressive for such a diminutive engine, peaking at 82kW and 160Nm, with all the R-Space’s urge managed via a dual-clutch transmission.

Performance figures for the R-Space are hardly startling. It runs a top speed of 200km/h and the benchmark 0-100km/h sprint in 11.5 seconds. The car’s economy and emission statistics though, are more impressive.

Consuming only 3.6l/100km and trailing a CO2 signature of 95g/km, R-Space will manage to circumvent most modern environmental automotive taxes.

BUILDING BLOCKS: R-Space’s interior is quite different. Suicide doors enable ease ingress. Tetris-like building blocks enable you to fashion your own rear passenger accommodation…

This MPV’s pièce de résistance though, is its (very) adjustable cabin architecture.

Renault’s mounted 27 electric motors into the rear of the R-Space, enabling one to adjust height-adjustable hexagon-shaped platforms.

The idea is to manipulate these platforms into whichever shape you require - be is a booster seat, flat load space, table surface or anything else your Tetris-fuelled subconscious can come up with.

Underscoring the R-Space's ecologically aware billing are in-car infotainment systems which reward prudent throttle use.

If the R-Space driver achieves a particularly good eco-score (as rated by the car’s engine control unit and a collection of other integrated parameters), rear seat passengers (primarily expected to be children) receive bonus points added to whatever video game they are playing at the time, facilitated by display screens mounted in the front seat head restraints.

The eco-bonus feature should make grandparents hugely popular with their grandchildren when navigating the R-Space through traffic...

Although R-Space is unlikely to morph into a discernible production vehicle, expect some of its design cues and detailing to underscore Renault's future MPVs. Plainly, Dutchman Laurens van den Acker is doing some outstanding work in his position as vice president of Renault's corporate design section.

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