By: Dave Abrahams
Paris Motor Show - Forget about Dita von Teese and WAGS in white shirts, this is what the term va-va-voom was invented to describe. It's Renault's Trezor, a two-seater electric Grand Tourer concept, revealed today at Porte de Versailles.
It's big for a berlinetta at 4700mm long (more than half of which seems to be bonnet!) on a 2776mm wheelbase, 2180mm wide and just 1080mm high, and weighs 1600kg. The styling is all about warm curves and sensual lines - there's a little bit of Dodge Viper in there, a soupcon of Mercedes SLS, even a hint of the late lamented Saab Aero concept - but it all hangs together because the proportions are right, something the French are good at.
Its most striking feature, however, is the braided fibre-optic tail-light with a red laser. Under braking, the torsion of the "rope" stacks the fibres, creating an interesting visual effect and increasing the intensity of the light.
The Trezor's one-piece clamshell roof lifts up like the lid of a jewellery box, and you straddle the side sponson of the body to get in; unlike the sponson of a classic racing car, however, it's actually low enough to do that quite easily, especially as the head restraints automatically recline out of the way.
Lady in red
The interior gives us an idea of where Renault is going with future models, using lots of wood and leather trim, with red as the predominant colour.
The dashboard, laminated from thin strips of ash and stained red, was specially made for this car by KEIM-cycles, maker of custom, high-performance wooden bicycle frames. It incorporates a big touch-screen and a front luggage compartment with custom-made luggage held in by leather straps.
The rectangular steering wheel, by contrast, was inspired by Formula One, complete with three screens - a dummy one in the middle that just shows the logo and two outer touch-screen displays instead of conventional stalk controls.
There are in fact no switches; everything is controlled by custom-made L-shaped touch-screen; as you get in, the car invites to dock your smartphone in a dedicated pocket and then displays your choice of its icons on the upright section of the display
Built on a carbon-fibre monocoque tub with tubular-steel front and rear subframes, the concept's electric powertain is derived from Renault's double world title-winning e.dams Formula E programme, delivering a quoted 260kW and 380Nm to the rear wheels and taking the Trezor from standstill to 100km/h in less than four seconds.
The Trezor has two batteries, each with its own cooling system - one at the back of the car and one in front for optimal weight distribution, and uses the race car's rechargeable energy storage system to recover energy lost under braking.
The whole car is so low-slung that Renault quotes the centre of gravity at just 250mm off the ground, rolling on custom-made 21 inch front and 22 inch rear Continental semi-slicks.
The Trezor has three driving modes: Neutral, Sport and Autonomous; in the latter mode the exterior lighting changes to let the rest of the world know the car is doing its own thing. The steering wheels expands on leather-sheathed aluminium shafts until it's wider than the main screen, and you can get on with important stuff like surfing the net or answering emails while the car takes where you want to go.
This is not pie in the sky; Renault's target is to put completely safe, affordable 'hands-off, eyes-off' self-driving capability in its mainstream cars in the decade following 2020.