Renault is preparing to take the lead in setting what it predicts will be the next big-hitting industry trend after the crossover SUV.
The firm believes that trend will be for sleek, high-riding five-door coupés, and Autocar understands it is working on a new concept car that will be part of a series of concepts developed over the next few years under the watch of design chief Laurens van den Acker.
With Renault’s core new-look range now complete, the manufacturer is looking to position additional models in its line-up and discover new market niches. It sees the development of the crossover as the natural next step.
The Koeru has since gone on to inspire the less extreme CX-4 production car in China, but Renault’s admiration remains for the initial concept, and that is the type of car its designers are exploring.
The Renault would, like the Mazda, be a high-riding model with a sleek body — a crossover-coupé that would be far more elegant than the path trodden by the likes of BMW with the X4 and X6 models. Renault wants to give buyers the feeling of robustness and security that comes from owning a crossover, but with the desirability of a coupé.
Renault has already started to make its more conventional models ride higher and look sportier, as with the new Scenic and Espace. Although the Scenic is still an MPV, this model gets 20in wheels and a sleeker-looking body to borrow some SUV traits without actually being one. This is the formula on which Renault is looking to build.
Renault previewed its current range with what van den Acker called the “circle of life” concept cars, starting with the DeZir in 2010. The concepts looked at different themes — such as work, love and family — and provided different vehicles for people as they progressed through life. Now Renault plans to do that again, starting with a concept at the Paris motor show in October.
The Paris concept is likely to be another sporty model rather than the new crossover-coupé concept. Its chief aim will be to show off the firm’s evolved design language, a role the DeZir played when van den Acker first arrived from Mazda. It will also look at the next generation of Renault interiors and improved human/machine interfaces.
In addition, the concept is understood to have an electric powertrain as Renault seeks to add more electric models higher up its range rather than just smaller models, such as the Twizy and Zoe. Renault has been buoyed by the emergence of Tesla and the acceptance of electric models being able to offer a premium drivetrain.
But it is the high-riding crossover-coupé concept that intrigues the most. Renault, like many other brands, has noted the success of the crossover SUV by expanding its range with the likes of the Captur, Kadjar and Koleos. Indeed, SUVs are now the most popular bodystyle in Europe.
Renault, having established a successful and popular design theme as part of the relaunch of its core model range, is now keen to get on the front foot by innovating once again. Its aim is to find the ‘next big thing’, just as Nissan did with the Qashqai and Juke in the more conventional crossover classes.