19 May 2004

Debut or debacle? Renault last month claimed that its Modus mini-MPV would make its world premiere at next week’s British Motor Show, but Autocar has learned that the car will in fact be unveiled at the Madrid show a week earlier.

On 27 April, Renault UK issued a press release headlined ‘World premiere of Modus. For the first time ever, a new Renault production car will make its world debut at the British Motor Show at Birmingham NEC in May 2004 before going on sale in September.’

However, last week the organisers of the Madrid Motor Show revealed that the production Modus would in fact be unveiled in Spain six days earlier.

The news is embarrassing for Renault and the NEC show organisers, who were relying on the launch of the Modus – its only notable world premiere – to bring some much-needed credibility to the event. A Renault spokesman told us: ‘As far as we’re concerned the two shows overlap, so we can claim that this is effectively a simultaneous world premiere.’

The exact reasons behind the last-minute change of plan are unclear, but the fact that the car will be built at Renault’s Valladolid factory in Spain makes it likely that the Spanish distributor applied pressure on Renault to host the premiere there.

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The Clio-based mini-MPV – pictured above undisguised for the first time – is due to go on sale here in right-hand-drive form in September. Our exclusive shot shows how closely the newcomer’s styling follows that of the concept unveiled at Geneva (right), with an upright stance, short overhangs and a more subtle take on the ‘bustleback’ rear.

Built on the same platform as the Nissan Micra, the five-door-only Modus will major on practicality thanks to an innovative ‘Triptic’ rear seat mechanism, a split-opening tailgate and an optional integrated cycle rack.

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