This really is a quite extraordinary vehicle. It’s the world’s first people-carrier coupe and, depending on the success of the project, may be the last. It’s based on Renault’s immensely successful Espace MPV, but instead of offering multiple doors and seating configurations, it provides three doors and just four/five seats.
The Renault Avantime is big, although not as big as it looks - it occupies similar road space to a Laguna - but its height and the vast glazed cabin lend it the bulk and presence of a biggish van. It can be had with either a 210 bhp 3.0 V6 or a 165 bhp 2.0 turbo, both with a six-speed manual transmission or an optional five-speed automatic. A 150 bhp 2.2 litre six-speed dCi diesel will follow in November - an a diesel automatic, probably the ideal combination, has yet to be decided upon.
There are two trim levels, called Dynamique and Privilege, the first including electronic climate control, the electric sunroof, four electric windows, a 60 watt stereo, ABS and ESP and six airbags, while Privilege adds park distance sensors, cruise control, a stereo upgrade and heated front seats, among other things. Renault has modest ambitions for this beast, perhaps wisely, and will be bringing in just 1500 during 2002.