The Volkswagen I.D. concept may be as important as the Beetle (according to Volkswagen, anyway), but it's not the prettiest all-electric concept car in Paris, not by a long shot. A real contender for that title is the Renault Trezor, a gloriously curvy, 350-hp grand tourer with clamshell roof, Formula E-based powertrain and "Multi-Sense" autonomous technologies. If this is what the future looks like, we can't wait to go there.
The Trezor picks up where Renault left off with the passion-red 2010 DeZir concept in terms of swoopy, show-stopping design. Renault says that in the same way the DeZir influenced the styling elements of future products, like the 2012-introduced Clio and 2015 Kadjar, the Trezor will inform the shape of things to come.
And that's great news because the Trezor is easily one of the sexiest cars on display in one of the world's sexiest cities, a city that's currently playing host to both the 2016 Mondial de L'Automobile and Fashion Week. The Trezor would feel comfortable at either.
As we reported way back in 2010, the DeZir was inspired by "falling in love." It's been five years, that love is running deeper than ever and now blossoms into "maturity and commitment" in the Trezor. In other words, the DeZir was red-hot lust embodied, and the Trezor is a stronger, committed relationship (that clearly hasn't lost a step in the sex and passion departments). It's all very fitting for a Paris debut.
Like the DeZir, the Trezor is defined by voluptuous front and rear fenders, which come across more smooth and sensual than muscular. The new concept stretches out more dramatically than the DeZir, its long, flowing hood teaming with a roofline that slowly descends to the rear bulge between the fenders.
Though still a two-seater, the new, 185-in (4,700 mm) concept is more than a foot and a half (475 mm) longer than its 2010 predecessor and sits on a wheelbase with an extra 7.6 in (194 mm). The 80.6-in (2,048 mm) front and 83-in (2,106 mm) rear tracks work with that wheelbase to grab hold of the road with the custom Continental tires.
Up front, the Trezor is defined by the cavernous side intakes dropping down from the sharp headlamps and the curved indentation created with help from the chin down below. The rear-end design includes a fiber optic lighting fixture with integrated laser light. "Under braking, the torsion and stacking of the optical fibers creates an interesting visual effect and increases the intensity of the light," Renault syas of the design.
The low-stance carbon fiber bodywork delivers a slippery drag coefficient of 0.22 and helps keep weight to 3,527-lb (1,600-kg) in conjunction with the carbon monocoque.
The Trezor gives off a first impression of being a full-blown supercar, and word of an F1-influenced powertrain temporarily supports that idea. The electric engine is more modest in output, though, a rear-mounted 349-hp unit derived from the same technology that drove the Renault e.dams car to two Formula E championships. Its 280 lb-ft (380 Nm) of torque help it fire to 62 mph (100 km/h) in four seconds flat.
Individual front and rear battery packs help keep the motor spinning and weight distributed evenly. A Formula E-derived energy recovery braking system helps to extend time between mandatory recharges. In place of the usual fuel filler door on a gas vehicle, Renault has an analog battery level indicator, a refreshingly simple alternative to the ubiquitous smartphone app with systems info.
The Trezor looks like the type of sporting GT that you'd look forward to driving from point to point (and points beyond), but it does include Multi-Sense autonomous mode, along with neutral and sport modes. The steering wheel doesn't tuck away, like in the VW I.D. and other concepts, instead widening out to open up a better view of the dashboard. The newest front passenger can use the digital dash for watching video content, playing games or doing all those other things one would do on any digital display. The exterior lighting pattern changes in autonomous mode as a signal to other road users.
Before driver and passenger start kicking back and watching video content on the dash display, they need to saddle up into the cabin through the lifting single-piece roof/hood. With no doors to open, the driver and passenger straddle the leather-wrapped sides to get in, a throwback to classic race cars. Inside, Renault takes the bucket seat to a new level with its full-wrapping driver and passenger pockets trimmed in warm, supple red leather.
The wooden dashboard was designed in conjunction with French wooden bicycle company KEIM Cycles, its specially prepared ash wood structure supporting the large L-shaped central OLED UHD touch display and control center and digital instrument panel. The multimedia system automatically recognizes the driver's smartphone, and apps are exported to the vehicle display for him or her to organize and use as desired.
The red wood of the dashboard extends forward under the hood, wrapping a pair of custom suitcases snugly. Leather straps hold that luggage in place.
The Trezor makes its world debut at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, which opened to the press on Thursday. We pretty much gave up any sliver of hope of production the minute we saw it, but Renault does say the car "previews trends likely to be seen in future Renault models." So there's that.
Take a look at the Trezor in action below: