The luxury limo of tomorrow is surprisingly tasteful

Renault completes the EZ line of prototypes that envision an autonomous future with the EZ Ultimo, a luxurious full-size sedan with outlandish styling for the VIPs of tomorrow.

It’s long, sleek, with a gold-and-black sci-fi bodywork and stands as Renault’s view on luxury travel in the future. The chauffeur of the EZ Ultimo, however, isn’t a person, but rather Level 4 autonomous system. It’s a change of pace for Renault whose previous two EZ concepts were rather more mundane: the compact EZ Go, a futuristic taxi, and the EZ Pro light delivery truck.

Renault wants the EZ Ultimo to be the choice in luxury transportation for the wealthy 30 years from now. Described by the French manufacturer as an "individual mobile lounge," the EZ Ultimo should be the seamless road-bound link between a 5-star hotel and a posh personal jet airplane.

It's also an answer to a future where boring autonomous, electric, and inter-connected cars will fill the streets and highways of the world.

"We were annoyed by this idea – that we’re all going be riding around in white boxes,’" stated the EZ Ultimo’s designer, Laurens van den Acker. "I’m not saying we won’t – for most of us, 90% of the time, that will be the reality – but we won’t only be doing that. I like to think there is hope for design, even in this new world. Who wouldn’t want to be driven in this? Tell me this is a white box!"

The Renault EZ-Ultimo Takes Another Futuristic Approach to Driverless Mobility
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The EZ Ultimo also caters to hotels who want a fleet of luxury vehicles to transport guests to and from the airport and to other locations. It can also be used as a shuttle for VIP customers or as a luxurious taxi option. This shows the flexibility of the car which can adapt to the roads, the urban landscape and according to its purpose.

The sleek design of the car truly belies its size.

With a length of 228 inches, it surpasses a Mercedes-Benz S-Class Maybach although it sits much lower than the latter at just 53-inches-tall.

It’s also quite heavy with a 3,968-pound platform with a bed of batteries that drive the front wheels, although all four wheels steer. But it’s not about performance; it’s about riding in style. And you’ll be driven around for quite a while - if you can afford it - given that the batteries have a 310-mile autonomy that charge up via wireless technology.

The Renault EZ-Ultimo Takes Another Futuristic Approach to Driverless Mobility
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The EZ Ultimo has only two doors, which slide open to reveal a lavish interior with only three seats. While the front wheel arches, front bumper, A-pillar and roof are black, with gold tones taking over the doors, rear quarter panels, and rear bumper, the interior adds a touch of green velvet to the mix. The lattice mesh that covers the windows sends waves of warm sunlight across the many intricate surfaces inside.

You've got warm lighting coming in from under the seats and from lamps placed on either side.

The materials used are lavish: marble tabletops, walnut flooring, and high-quality metals. "The arrival of autonomous technology means we need to think a lot about materials," said Stephane Janin, Director of Concept Car Design at Renault. "After all, when you are no longer driving, they are one of the few things we as designers can play with. Currently, we have all these points of interaction – the steering wheel, the gearshift lever – but in the future, we will lose these and the materials will be more important. We have to make the difference in new ways. We are becoming more and more like an architect or an interior designer."

The Renault EZ-Ultimo Takes Another Futuristic Approach to Driverless Mobility
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The infotainment system is clever with hidden chargers for your mobile phone, tablet or laptop as well as other amenities.

While we know it's far from production as we're barely dabbling with level 2 autonomous systems and the EZ Ultimo would have level 4 technology, it's interesting to see Renault step into the luxury market.

"As Renault, we wondered if we were legit to go to this premium space. But the world is changing," pointed out Laurens van den Acker. "My dad bought his cars; I lease mine. And when you think about selling time in this vehicle rather than the vehicle itself, then anybody could buy 10 miles in it and have a luxury experience. Renault is not a premium brand, evidently, but we are good at democratizing innovations."

If this is how a breath of automotive fresh air in a sea of character-less robot-cars looks like two or three decades from now, we are in. With that being said, we’re not ready to give up the steering, pedals, and shifter just yet.

Further reading

Renault Showcases the Future of Urban Travel with the EZ-GO Autonomous People Hauler Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Renault EZ-GO.

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