Striking two-seat concept is set to shape the styling of Renault’s future production models and heralds ‘big changes’ in technology and design
Renault has previewed its next-generation design language with the unveiling of a high-performance electric two-seat GT concept.
The sleek coupe, called Trezor, which means ‘treasure’ in French, is the latest creation of design boss Laurens van den Acker, who has held the role at Renault since 2009.
Over the past six years and using the design language pioneered in 2010’s Dezir concept, to which the Trezor is clearly and deliberately linked, van den Acker has restyled every production Renault. He recently signalled the completion of his journey by unveiling a lightly revised version of the 2012 Clio. Now the cycle begins again, with the Trezor design study hinting at what will follow.
“This car signals a new beginning, not an end,” said van den Acker. “It aims to appeal to the emotions, like everything we do.”
“But it also investigates urgent questions, like how you configure lights for next- generation cars, how you accommodate passengers in a car that has an autonomous mode and how you integrate information screens into interiors without making them look alien. With due respect to Dezir, Trezor has a little less beauty but a lot more brains.”
The Trezor’s looks begin with its proportions. At 4700mm in length, it’s nearly as long as a Range Rover Sport, but its height of 1080mm makes it one of the lowest cars in existence.
There are big, confident bulges over the front wheels and powerful haunches at the rear. The short, fastback tail ends in a horizontal semi-circle just behind the wheels and the drag coefficient is just 0.22.
The 2776mm wheelbase is longer than that of a Range Rover Sport, but the overhangs are tiny.
“The rear wheels are driven by a single 350bhp Formula E motor”
The concept rides on 21in front and 22in rear wheels with gaps between spokes that make the shape of the Eiffel Tower, plus carbonfibre scoops to aid brake cooling.
The Trezor’s chassis consists of a central carbonfibre spine that connects to steel frames front and rear which carry the independent suspension. The rear wheels are driven by a single 350bhp Formula E electric motor mounted behind the occupants. Despite the two large batteries, one front and one rear, the kerb weight isjust 1600kg, meaning the car can accelerate from 0-62mph in less than four seconds.
Van den Acker describes the styling as “warm, simple and sensual”, but the sheer extravagance of the curves is what gives the big coupe its presence. A huge, one- piece powered canopy opens forwards to reveal a step-in cockpit with two deep and inviting leather-trimmed bucket seats, designed to provide comfort either when the car is being driven or in its selectable autonomous mode.
Instrumentation is entirely screen-based, with two large displays on the dashboard and three smaller ones across the rectangular steering wheel. The dash uses laminated ash wood, produced with the help of a French specialist, Keim Cycles, which makes £8500 wooden bicycle frames.
Also revealed when the door opens is a finely crafted, wood-framed luggage compartment, with space for two suitcases. Head restraints for the occupants are also carried on wood frames. The clear message from Renault’s design department is that wood is a modern material, far from finished in cars.
The Trezor’s controls are mostly app-based, with icons to enable desired functions. In autonomous mode, the steering wheel widens, like the curtains in a theatre, to give better visual access to the main fascia’s screens, on which the occupant could play a game or watch a movie.
There are a number of interesting design features. Renault diamonds set into the bodysides flash as the canopy opens. The bonnet includes automatic scoops that open to provide cooling air to the batteries when required. There are laser lights at the front, fibre optic lights incorporate tiny laser beams as decorations. The whole lightning set assumes an all-enveloping “technical” configuration when the car is in autonomous mode.
The Trezor will not appear in showrooms, but it undescores van den Acker’s belief that there’s more mileage in the visual language he began to create for new Renault production cars six years ago.
“There are more big changes coming over the next few years,” he said.
“High technology will invade everything. As a designer, we all have ideas about the direction of progress, but we can’t always be right, so we use concept like Trezor to help us find answers. It’ll be interesting to see what sticks from this one.”