Anybody remember the Renault Monaco series? All finished in the same ‘Oak Bronze metallic,’ a sort of metallic brown and trimmed with a sort of caramel-coloured leather.
Although you might expect to see the 21 saloon and big 25 hatch to be given the full luxury trim, it was the Renault 5 Monaco that was really interesting.
A pretty basic supermini, it got the full leather trim treatment but originally had a big (for the day) 1.8-litre engine hooked up to an auto ‘box. The super-luxury supermini is an idea that keeps popping up. Lancia’s Y10 and Ypsilon have long ploughed the upmarket furrow and other carmakers have toyed with plush special editions. The idea of the tiny city car brought up to limo standards inside probably started with the coach-built Minis commissioned by Peter Sellers and the Beatles in the early 1960s. Indeed, in the 1990s it was even possible for Japanese drivers to buy a classic Mini with an auto ‘box and air-con and there’s hints of a super-lux BMW Mini in the near future. Niche markets in the big European cities have continued to give fuel to the idea that drivers might start downsizing. Keeping all the luxury features of bigger cars, but in a jam-friendly package. Well, if the Detroit show is anything to go by, the downsized luxury car could finally be here to stay. Fiat showed a plush version of its US-tweaked 500 city car and GM showed an early prototype of its Buick Verano.
The Verano, effectively an Astra saloon, has, says GM, been re-engineered for refinement and will feature a high-end, tightly finished interior. There’s no doubt that the Mondeo market is shrinking fast and creature comforts are ever more popular, so the down-sized and double-downsized luxury cars for the latte-sipping classes might finally become a permanent part of the auto landscape, Just one thing. Why do these mini-limos always seem to be metallic brown with a brown leather interior?