February 4, 2006 Renault has taken the wraps off its latest concept car, Altica, a sporty estate car with a spacious interior. Described by Renault's Senior Vice President, Corporate Design, Patrick le Quement, as “a successful balance between flowing and sporty lines,” the Altica is designed to combine the practicality of an estate car, the sports appeal of a coupe and a high standard of travelling comfort. The interior of the car is where most of the advanced concepts are employed, with a suspended drive station held in place by four profiled rods that hint at the world of Formula 1. Similarly, the seats are fixed, and the drive station and pedal assembly adjust to match the driver's physique via a motorized mechanism. Altica's sports pedigree is reinforced by its scissor doors, the form of which ensures easy access to this low vehicle.
The panoramic windscreen and rear window underline the car's fluid aerodynamics. The two-tone paintwork accentuates the side design and also asserts Altica's graphic identity. The car's overall stance – low-slung lines, long bonnet, prominent wings – and proportions express true sports car dynamics. Comprised of a mosaic of transparent panes, the rear quarter lights suggest forward movement.
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Altica's interior mirrors its sporty, dynamic exterior design. The suspended drive station is held in place by four profiled rods that hint at the world of Formula 1.
The transparent roof and panoramic windscreen erase the boundary between the interior and the outside world and also ensure a brightly-lit cabin. The mosaic design of the rear quarter lights allows sunlight to filter into the cabin much like it does through stained glass windows and gives the interior a more welcoming feel. The layout and angling of the panes ensure good three-quarter rear visibility for the driver which is indispensable when parking.
The headlamps feature four different modes – daytime running lights (DRL), sidelights, dipped beam and main beam – and function using rows of diodes.
They also produce a halo effect when the DRL mode is selected. This is achieved in two ways. First of all, each polycarbonate headlamp module cover is speckled with thousands of small, micro-engraved nicks. Invisible to the naked eye, these nicks have no effect on the beams and permit light to pass unhindered. In the daytime running mode, however, the surface of the module cover is illuminated from the edge. The light is accordingly trapped inside the mass and spreads out like a fluid over the entire surface to produce an original and effective halo effect for the DRL and sidelight functions.
An estate with the accent on style
Altica's sports pedigree is reinforced by its scissor doors, the form of which ensures easy access to this low vehicle.
The generous interior volumes of Altica provide a very high standard of travelling comfort despite the car's sporty characteristics. Each of the four individual seats boasts outstanding comfort.
Instead of the seats, which are fixed, it is the drive station and pedal assembly that adjust to match the driver's physique thanks to a motorized mechanism. The height-adjustable centre armrest deploys automatically as the driver sits down.
The vertical positioning of the dashboard takes its inspiration from the world of aeronautics and permits the driver to feel at one with the car.
The centrally-positioned dial features two display modes: "comfort" and "sport". The "comfort" mode indicates the car's speed in the centre of the display while the perimeter shows the legal speed limits which turn red if exceeded. In the "sport" mode, the speed continues to be displayed in the middle of the dial but the perimeter becomes a digital rev counter and turbo pressure indicator. The graphics of the high-resolution screen provide a distinctly human touch to this high-tech display which itself suggests watchmaker-like precision and sophistication.
Altica features a number of clever storage spaces, including the shell-like glove box, concertina-style storage compartment in the armrests and a tray situated underneath the floor at the rear.
The rear seat backs can be folded into the flat floor which is equipped with straps that permit heavy or bulky loads to be held secure. This layout transforms Altica into a two-seater sports coupé with a vast 1,300-litre boot, while the boot lid provides very easy access and an extremely low loading sill.
Driving pleasure, power and control
Altica is a dynamic sporty estate that combines driving pleasure with a sensation of power and control.
With its long bonnet, sports dimensions (length: 4.27m; width: 1.83m) and very low centre of gravity, Altica offers remarkable performance.
Altica's new 177hp 2.0 dCi particulate filter-equipped diesel engine takes the car from a standing start to 100kph in just 7.5s. Coupled with a six-speed gearbox, this powerplant – which boasts maximum torque of 380Nm – provides excellent pull-away and mid-range acceleration. This hasn't been achieved to the detriment of fuel consumption, however. The Renault-Nissan Alliance engine is very inexpensive to run and fuel consumption is equivalent to 140g of CO2 per kilometre. In terms of both performance and driving pleasure, it stands out as the best diesel engine in its class and a version of which, without the particle filter, debuts in the Laguna GT dCi 175 this month.
Altica's low fuel consumption also stems from its exceptional aerodynamics. Located at the extremity of the roof at the point where the vehicle and the passing air flow separate, a discreet mechanical system generates jets of air which are alternately blown and sucked through a 2mm wide slit. Known as "Synthetic Jet", the system actively controls the separation of the air flow according to the vehicle's speed. This innovative technique, which reduces drag and controls the structure of the air flow, is a registered Renault patent and reduces the car's Cd at 80mph by 15% for an energy consumption of just 10W.
Altica's lights employ high-performance light emitting diodes (LEDs).
The dipped and main beam functions are housed in a single module which tops a linear directional light. The LED control unit permanently adapts the quantity and orientation of the beam as a function of the conditions.
During motorway driving, the LEDs that ensure long range visibility are automatically activated and controlled to guarantee optimum visibility at all times without dazzle. The colour of the light emitted by the LEDs is similar to that of daylight for enhanced optical comfort and visibility.
The daytime running light (DRL) mode, which is activated most of the time while the car is moving, also use LEDs. Their high efficiency and the low amount of energy they require significantly reduce the power that is consumed compared with a conventional light source. The life expectancy of LEDs is also much longer than that of all contemporary light sources.
As a world first, the sidelight function is ensured by a veil of light that covers the entire headlamp thanks to Valeo's exclusive MicroOptique technology.View gallery - 44 images