Renault's flip-side fantasy
7 September 2006

The French aren't hiding their excitement at the impending Paris motor show: this dramatic-looking Renault concept car is the latest automotive gem attempting to lure us over the Channel.

Called the Nepta, this four-seater cabriolet's most dramatic feature is its motor-powered gull-wing doors; rather than having separate front and rear doors, the whole side of the car pivots upwards to allow access. We can't see such a crazy feature ever making it into production, but it will certainly turn heads (and quite possibly remove them altogether if you're not careful when getting in).

What the Nepta really does, of course, is to give us a glimpse of the design direction and technology of future Renaults. The headlights use LEDs, which are more efficient and longer-lasting than standard bulbs, while their more compact dimensions give designers a freer hand with the car's design. The tyres are specially developed Michelins that have been created to be more aerodynamic.

The cabin uses what Renault dubs "Touch Design," with controls positioned close at reach and shaped to the contours of the hand. We like the sculpted twin bucket seats and the "floating" dashboard. Rear-seat passengers get individual DVD screens to keep them entertained, or they can always look at the sky – the Nepta has a canvas roof, but as Renault has provided no photos we assume it's not very practical.

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Power comes from a 3.5-litre V6 up front producing 414bhp. Coupled to a seven-speed auto 'box, this rockets the concept to 62mph in under five seconds.

And should this particular French drop-top concept not take your fancy, perhaps Peugeot's will.

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