In addition to the outrageous concepts and world premieres that have debuted at the Frankfurt Auto Show , a number of models who are generously described as concepts yet look more like production previews are also in attendance.
One of these models comes courtesy of French automaker Renault . Specifically, the model is called the Initiale Paris Concept and it’s being touted as a preview model for the automaker’s resident people-carrier, the Espace.
While we’re disappointed that it’s not a preview of its future sports car, the Alpine, the Initiale Paris Concept does look like a very worthy step forward for the normally mundane Espace. Renault’s current styling direction is pretty evident on the concept, specifically the headlight details, the low-slung plexiglass roof, the sleek side styling and of particular note to us, the honeycomb intakes just below the integrated bumper.
The design is also in line with Renault’s recent proclamation that the Espace will look less like a minivan and more like a crossover, something that should appeal to its overall makeup.
Click past the jump to read about the Renault Espace
As one of six concepts Renault is showcasing at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show, the Initiale Paris is arguably one of the bigger ones of the lot, measuring a tidy 4.85 meters long (190.9 inches). That’s an important measurement to remember because the peg of the concept as a minivan fits into its dimensions.
We like how Renault designed the concept with the idea of giving its looks some sedan inspiration as shown by the rather emphatic front grille and the muscular shoulders. The Amethyst color finish also plays into its concept billing with the color shifting in changing views from deep metallic black to luminous plum violet, really something akin to the characteristics of the jewel.
Up front, the grille is the most distinguishing characteristic of the Initiale Paris, yet far from the only one. A full set of LEDs and daytime running lights were used with a built-in mechanism responsible for a blink feature on the lights. Over on the side, the grooved body panels showcases the versatile look of the concept while the light setup on the rear was positioned in relation to the proportions of the vehicle. There’s also what Renault calls rearward vision, featuring ultra-slim, profiled cameras that serve as exterior mirrors.
But more than just the traditional design cues of any vehicle, concept styling was also prevalent on the Initiale Paris. The most notable is the aluminum and plexiglass roof, which actually depicts a map of Paris and shows the districts and arteries of the city, as well as River Seine. We doubt something like that will end up on the production model, but it does make for a pretty cool nod to the city that the concept took its name from.
Look closer and you might also notice shame diamond-shaped patterns on numerous parts of the exterior, including the grille exterior, the wheels and the sides of the vehicles. Apparently, those were included by Renault for no other reason than to drive up the concept’s contextual architecture. Some other parts of the concept were designed with inspiration on a number of items, including the shape of the side windows (feather), the rear quarter light (aircraft tail fin), and motorized aerodynamic screens (flaps of a tail fin)
The inspiration to aeronautics continue into the interior with the rear-hinged doors opening courtesy of a motorized running board. Once you’re inside the Initiale Concept, you’ll notice that the floor combines matte wood with high-tech aluminum, something that looks cool on the concept but would probably be best served if it were left out of the production model.
The seats look pretty comfortable too with the first two rows boasting of armchair capabilities. The seating configuration is different in the third row with Renault opting for an equally original bench made of independent mobile blades. The seat back can be also be folded down partly or all the way, effectively creating more space for items to be stowed.
Moving to the front, the Initiale Paris Concept’s dashboard looks clean and uncluttered. The center console doesn’t have any side support, showcasing a visual imagery that feels like its floating above the cabin floor. That’s all cool and all, but its function is where things go to another level. With two available screens that appear to merge as one with the matte wood veneer, the console can easily display videos and information about the surrounding area.
One underwhelming thing about the concept’s interior is the way the light comes in through the plexiglass roof. With a design as intricate as the map of Paris sitting just above you, once light comes through the rood, you’re treated to a shadowy distraction that will probably best served on something else. Renault thinks this play of light and shadows is cool but that’s where we’ll agree to disagree.
The Initiale Paris Concept also comes equipped with 32 speakers, including two subwoofers from world-renowned audio-system company Bose. In addition to the two subwoofers, the audio system also includes 16 Personal Surround speakers, seven bass-reflex enclosures and Surround Sound amplification. The Bass, mid-range and treble are processed independently by specific speakers, controlled by the digital amplifier that manages the signal according the acoustic characteristics of the cabin.
Technically, the engine being used on the Initiale Concept is a dCi 130 powertrain. This particular engine, though, is different because it’s been enhanced with new technology to make it more efficient than its past incarnations. As part of this reinvention, the French automaker began exploring using twin-turbo technology for smooth and athletic driving and Shift-by-Wire control for the EDC transmission that was borrowed from Formula 1 technology and pegged to improve precision and smoother controls.
With all these changes, the Initiale Paris Concept has been pegged to produce generous amounts of torque at 295 pound-feet of torque with a power output of somewhere around 140 horsepower. No performance numbers were given but our assumption is that the concept is capable of hitting 60 mph in 9-something seconds to go with an estimated top speed of around 120 mph.
Don’t expect a price tag for the Renault Initiale Paris Concept because it won’t be for sale to the market.
One key competitor the production model of the Initiale Paris Concept is expected to have is the Citroen C4 Picasso. The seven-seater C4 Grand Picasso has had years in the market and for the 2013 model, the French minivan received extra room from longer rear doors and a boxier rear end. Conventional doors were also put in place instead of the expected sliding rear doors that usually appears in minivans.
In terms of power, the Citroen C4 Grand Picasso has a range of three petrol and four HDi diesel engines with horsepower ranging from 93 horsepower to 153 horsepower. These engines will be mated to a variety of transmissions, from a 6-speed automatic gearbox to a manual five- or six-speed, or a 4-speed automatic transmission.
Gallery Citroen C4 Grand Picasso
As far as the concept goes, the Initiale Paris Concept gets some good marks from us. Renault successfully incorporated its design language on the vehicle without going too overboard with concept trinkets. The exception is the plexiglass roof with the map of Paris, something we find really no use for given its location (who’s going to see it, really?) and the interior hassle of having light pass through that intricate map design.
Take the map design out, retain the plexiglass roof, and the Initiale Paris Concept will be more attractive to our eyes.
- Successfully adapts Renault’s design language
- Cozy and spacious interior
- New powertrain technology
- Map of Paris on the roof should be taken out
- Still a concept
- How much of the concept will we see in the production model
Gallery Renault Initiale Paris Concept
Initiale Paris concept car, the sixth petal in Renault’s design strategy
Renault’s “life cycle” design strategy encompasses the experiences of its customers as they fall in love, discover the world, found a family, work, play, and attain wisdom. The strategy is based on an emotional styling language that is simple, sensual and warm in equal parts.
FROM PASSION TO RENEWAL: A COMPLETE DESIGN CYCLE
It is rare to see a brand display six concept cars together on its stand. By doing so, Renault is expressing the culmination of a cycle and the success of its design renewal. The exhibition puts each life stage into perspective by bringing visitors a few simple keys to make the brand’s approach easier to interpret.
Renault designs cars for each stage in life.
From this premise was born a design strategy that builds strong links with our customers.
The six “petals” in the life cycle have now been revealed:
•Love: Life starts when you fall in love, a founding step expressed by DeZir.
•Explore: Then comes the moment to explore the world as a couple with the Captur crossover.
•Family: After which, you found a family, with R-Space, embodying the minivan and family car.
•Work: Life is all about professional activity, with the Frenzy light commercial vehicle, and the associated moments of leisure.
•Play: Then there are the good times and fun, in the shape of the Twin’Z and Twin’Run concept cars.
•Wisdom: At some point, everyone aspires to serenity, a time when they can take full advantage of life. The Initiale Paris concept car, making its debut at Frankfurt, illustrates open-mindedness and the pleasures and sensations associated with a premium vehicle.
“By making direct links between concept and production cars, Renault is delivering on the promise to design simple, sensual and warm vehicles with emotional appeal.”
Axel Breun – Concept and Show Car Design Director
“Wisdom” is the sixth petal in the strategy, unveiled at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. Embodied by Initiale Paris, this petal stands for open-mindedness and the ability to enjoy life to the full by focusing on feelings and pleasure. It is in this spirit that Renault designers created Initiale Paris, an all-new take on travel, premium class, with all the emotions the brand sees in that experience.
“Initiale Paris is the sixth concept car in Renault’s design strategy. It previews the Espace replacement in an ‘Initiale Paris’ version embodying Renault’s vision of the premium segment.”
Laurens van den Acker – Vice President, Corporate Design
Flowing and robust body styling, high-tech and upgradeable interior
“The Initiale Paris concept car is a concentrate of the very best of Renault, caressing the senses through style and innovation.”
François Leboine – Initiale Paris designer
Exterior design: flow and force, colour and light
Initiale Paris is a large car, at 4.85 m long. Prestigious but without excess, the new concept car promises impressive spaciousness on board. Its body styling immediately expresses:
•the vitality of a saloon, through its emphatic grille and muscular shoulders,
•the character of an SUV, with large 22-inch wheels and sculptured wings,
•and the light and space of an MPV, through a generous glazed surface and innovative roof that plays with light.
The flowing and contemporary body styling of the Initiale Paris concept car is inspired by the worlds of architecture and aeronautics, two fields in which the generally mutually-exclusive qualities of robustness and lightness come together.
The shape of the side windows evokes that of a feather. The rear quarter light, shaped like an aircraft tail fin, houses innovative, motorized aerodynamic screens that deploy like the flaps of a tail fin with a sophisticated movement heightening the emotional content of the styling.
The harmony between robustness and lightness is showcased further by the repetition of a strong graphic design on several parts of the vehicle. The motif, made out of an assembly of diamond shapes, shares the spirit and design of a bee hive. It features on the exterior of the grille, the wheels, and the sides of the vehicle. Linking exterior and interior, it also figures on the floor section where the rear-hinged doors open.
The structural composition brings to mind the frame of an aeroplane, but also gives a nod to the Grand Palais and the Eiffel Tower, emblematic Parisian monuments, the capital of French-style elegance. The most formal homage to Paris is made by the concept car’s highly original aluminium and plexiglass roof. Milled directly out of the main body, it depicts a map of Paris – solid and transparent – showing the city’s districts and arteries and the River Seine. The technical feat, with its spectacular aesthetic result, gives meaning to the new “Initiale Paris” signature in particular and to Renault in general, since it was on the banks of the Seine that Renault’s industrial adventure began. And what city better than Paris embodies French joie de vivre and refinement or luxury in the eyes of the world?
RENAULT, A VISION OF FRENCH-STYLE PREMIUM MOTORING
Renault’s design team didn’t think twice about taking their inspiration from non-automotive fields. Each time they called on classic automotive and luxury cues, they made sure to take a fresh and original angle on them. And they continuously drew on a singularly “French” spirit of challenge to shake up the established order.
The designers took their inspiration from aeronautics and ultra-high-end contemporary outdoor furniture – worlds featuring elegant and refined shapes along with a great deal of vitality, and at the same time evoking warmth, light and space.
Aluminium and wood are often used in the automotive industry, but on Initiale Paris they attain a much more “mature” and dynamic expression than usual. Chrome detailing is satin finished, while the matt-finish walnut wood is assembled using slim blades for a more refined air. The centre console has a similar design, shifting imperceptibly from natural wood to gloss black.
The concept car body is cloaked in an “Amethyst” colour that shifts from deep metallic black to luminous plum violet as the light and viewpoint change. The body paint plays with shifting reflections much as a jewellery setting showcases the gem it holds. The letter “I” for Initiale Paris adorns the vehicle sides and wheels.
The full-LED lights give the Initiale Paris concept car a strong light signature. At the front, the daytime running lights enclose each headlamp in parentheses. A built-in mechanism causes an eyelid-like “blink” in the light. At the rear, the lights are harmoniously positioned in relation to the horizontal and vertical lines of the car through their size and artful proportions. Rearward vision is ensured by ultra-slim, profiled cameras that serve as exterior mirrors. Each exterior detail evokes and fosters movement.
Interior design: light, space and technology
Motorists enter the car via rear-hinged doors with the help of a motorized running board – in a further nod to aeronautics. The promise of the exclusive pleasure of travelling in private jet-style comfort becomes a reality when occupants see the armchair seats in the first two rows, together with the profiled gearstick, the light guides covering the entire cabin, and the shapes echoing the tail-fin motif employed on the exterior.
The peerlessly comfortable seats make travel a more enticing prospect than ever. Attached to the central tunnel with no vertical link with the floor, they seem to float in the midst of the cabin. The levitating effect is heightened by the discreet joint between seat back and seat base that lets the light pass through.
The floor blends prestigious matt wood with high-tech aluminium set in a regular pattern. The contemporary marquetry lends a distinct sense of relief – both literally and figuratively – through the wave-like movement that softly washes across its surface.
Drivers are treated to uncluttered instruments and a centre console that seems to float above the cabin floor. Free of side support, the console fits seamlessly into the cabin like a bridge linking the central tunnel and the dashboard. The console houses two screens displaying videos and information on points of interest in the surrounding area. The screens are built into the surface and curve of the console, merging as one with the matt wood veneer.
The third row of the cabin is home to an original bench made of independent mobile blades. The blades compose a poetic expression of the modular design expected of this type of vehicle. Their respective positions open up entirely new in use. The seat back can be partly or totally folded down, while the bench can form a single whole with an armrest separating the passengers. For visual pleasure rather than pure practicality, the blades can be set in a range of positions to suggest different kinds of movement, that of a wave, for example.
Travelling is also about transformation. The emphasis inside Initiale Paris interior is on original, consummately-worked grades in colours and materials, as seen on the seats in particular. Variations in light and the corresponding mood go hand in hand with the changes in rhythm of the journey. By day, natural light from above is diffused through the roof prism, creating an ever-changing play of light and shadow. At night, the soft light sources bathe all occupants in a soothing nocturnal ambience. A succession of light guides above the instrument cluster lights up and switches off in step with the forward movement of the car.
An all-new approach to acoustics
To heighten travelling pleasure through music and sound, acoustics were thoroughly thought out on Initiale Paris. The concept car brings all occupants a totally immersive and shared experience in this respect.
Initiale Paris occupants are greeted by a sound ambience as soon as the car is started. The special sound signature sets the tone for a premium experience and delivers on the “Initiale Paris” promise. Renault called on the skills of composer and sound designer Andrea Cera to create the signature, as part of the collaborative effort between the Group and France’s acoustic and music research and coordination institute, IRCAM, which previously developed the pedestrian warning sounds for ZOE.
Renault asked BOSE®, its production-vehicle sound partner since 2008, to design a custom-engineered audio system. Purposefully discreet and fully integrated in the cabin, the acoustic installation developed by BOSE® reflects the simplicity and elegance of Initiale Paris.
The result of a close collaborative project, the technical challenge met by BOSE® – a first for a concept car – signals the upcoming arrival on Renault models of Surround Sound®, an enveloping and rich audio experience close to that of a live concert.
“We are honoured that Renault asked us to be part in the project, one that testifies to the importance Renault places on sound quality and travelling pleasure and to the trust it places in our expertise.”
Karsten Uhde – European Director, Bose Automotive Systems
BOSE & INITIALE PARIS: EMOTIONAL SOUND MADE-TO-MEASURE
Initiale Paris is equipped with 32 speakers, including two subwoofers. Bass, mid-range and treble are processed independently by specific speakers, controlled by the digital amplifier that manages the signal according the acoustic characteristics of the cabin.
Sixteen exclusive Personal® Surround speakers
Each headrest offers 2 specific enclosures with a pair of speakers. This unique design creates an individual 360° sound zone for each seat. Listeners are immersed in enveloping Surround Sound® placing them at the centre of the music.
Seven BOSE® bass-reflex enclosures
This solution offers a high level of sound performance in the mid-range and lower mid-range for clear and detailed sound delivering all the subtleties of the music. The seven two-litre enclosures were designed and developed by BOSE® exclusively for the needs of Initiale Paris. Each one features a high-performance 100mm speaker combined with a 36mm unit with particularly precise treble performance. One of them is built into the centre of the dashboard, ensuring the stability of the sound stage and a balanced, rich and ultra-centred sound wherever the listener is seated.
Two built-in subwoofers
To reproduce low frequencies in the cabin, BOSE® opted to use two subwoofers, one in the front, one in the rear :
•a compact 4-liter subwoofer integrated underneath the dashboard,
•a 200-mm speaker inside a 25-liter bass-reflex enclosure built into the tailgate.
The set-up provides high-level performance on low frequencies, for deep and realistic bass sounds in all seats, with no compromise on cabin space.
Surround Sound® amplification
The sound system is controlled via a 12-channel digital amplifier with a Bose digital signal processing and 12 channels of customized equalisation. It features Centerpoint® signal processing to fully benefit from BOSE Surround Sound®, including from stereo sources (CD and MP3). The Centerpoint® signal processing circuit continuously analyses the stereo signal to reproduce a 5-channel Surround Sound experience for all occupants.
A responsible and efficient concept engine
Renault engine-makers took a dCi 130 engine and enhanced it to bring drivers generous torque (peaking at 400 Nm) across a broad operating range. The engine builds on Renault fundamentals in powertrain technology and explores new paths for making the brand’s power plants even more efficient in the future.
•Downsizing: Faithful to its downsizing strategy, Renault combines driving pleasure with low fuel consumption by using smaller but particularly efficient cylinder blocks.
•EDC: The six-speed EDC (Efficient Dual Clutch) automatic transmission is responsive and easy to use, and provides good fuel consumption.
•Renault is exploring two new directions with the concept engine:
•Twin-turbo technology: A small, low-inertia turbo is used for low engine speeds and a second turbo kicks in for higher speeds. Torque is generous and plentiful from low speed – with a full 90% on hand from 1,500 rpm – for smooth and athletic driving.
•Shift-by-Wire control for the EDC transmission: This system, borrowed from Formula 1 racing, enhances the precision and smoothness of the controls through better-controlled effort. It also has a styling advantage as the gearstick is slimmer and the floating console has no cables to conceal.
A further particularity of the concept engine used for Initiale Paris is the use of optimized steel pistons to cut down on friction. Steel pistons dilate less than aluminium pistons, resulting in enhanced piston-to-cylinder wall clearances at high temperatures. Lower friction between pistons and cylinder walls means lower fuel consumption. And to keep them light, the steel pistons are hollowed out. The design is exactly the same as that used in Renault’s Formula 1 engine.
The Initiale Paris concept car has roughly the same dimensions as a Grand Espace but weighs in at some 250 kg less.
Overall, the concept engine emits 40 g/km less CO2 and burns 25% less fuel than an equivalent-performance diesel.
The “Initiale Paris” signature. Renault’s take on the art of travel
Besides the concept car itself, “Initiale Paris” is a signature that embodies Renault’s vision of premium cars. The signature is based on Renault’s ability to see trends coming and on the pioneering spirit it harnesses to create new ideas and transform the way we use cars.
With Initiale Paris, Renault wants to bring its customers a liveable premium vehicle infused with the very best of the brand and offering an all-new take on the art of travel.
Initiale Paris will bring motorists an authentic and emotional experience appealing to all the senses.
•Attractive. Initiale Paris styling will elicit emotion with products featuring warm design, top-quality materials and finish, a peerless acoustic and thermal ambience, and discreetly integrated advanced technology.
•Adapted. Initiale Paris will build on Renault’s commitment to make its customers lives easier, through innovation and the widespread availability of technologies for everyday use and comfort. This will also involve engines designed with day-to-day use and environmental respect in mind. The keywords will be comfort, well-being and driving pleasure.
•Attentive. Initiale Paris will be accompanied by special services forging closer ties with customers and bringing them more peace of mind.