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Renault Wind Specs Suspension Engine Rebates Top Speed Price Color and Review

Monday, March 21, 2011

Renault Wind is designed as a rival to the Mazda MX-5; fun to drive, but a bit odd to look at.

Renault Wind review
 
Let's put those scatological musings to the sword - this is all about style. In France, being "dans le vent" means being hip, trendy, cool… Much like Plastic Bertrand until they discovered that someone else actually sang Ça Plane Pour Moi on his behalf.
So Wind - even, bizarrely, in a country where strenuous efforts to outlaw the Anglicisation of the language have met with about as much success as the chocolate teapot - it is, then.
At first glance, I can't help feeling that Renault's diminutive coupé-roadster errs stylistically towards the vol au vent: the accidental inclusion of self-raising flour, rather than plain, results in a disproportionately large case with a relatively tiny, removable top.
In the metal, the Wind comes across as too tall. But this, I suspect, has more to do with a bonnet height dictated by increasingly stringent pedestrian impact legislation than any vertical hold issues with the design team's spectacles.
Lob in rear buttressing, and the rising waistline that is now de rigueur for even the smallest car with sporting pretensions, and the side windows appear too small for flanks of Queen Mary proportions.
For all that, the Wind remains quite a funky little composition, if a tad chubby. Viewed in 16:9 format on a telly broadcasting in 4:3 (as most people inadvertently did with the advent of widescreen), it would appear more appropriately svelte.
Its raison d'ëtre, the folding roof, is extremely clever, pivoting about a hinge-point buried in the buttress - in the manner of Ferrari's Superamerica - to disappear (in just 12 seconds) beneath a Batmobile-blistered, double-skinned bootlid. Better yet, there remains ample luggage space for a proper excursion.
With the rear bulkhead restricting occupancy to just two, roof removal elicits feelings of Targa rather than fully open-topped motoring - a perception heightened by a combination of the lowest seating position of any Renault.
Even so, that Simon Cowell-high waistline, chunky A-pillars and a large, close-proximity windscreen cut the peaks off the Alps you're touring through.
Perfectly comfortable, but verging on the gently claustrophobic with two big blokes clonking elbows, the interior features a tidy, three-dial instrument binnacle with the gleaming cowl of a freshly scalped tadpole. But there's no proper centre console, which an open car majoring in style surely requires.
Rather, stock Renault stereo and air-conditioning panels are slapped unceremoniously hither and thither in the manner of fridge magnets, and the roof and window switches are illogically buried shin-deep behind the gear lever. Almost everything else about this car, though, is really very good.
The Wind has been developed and built by the company's Renaultsport wing, widely acknowledged masters of the hot hatch genre.
So it rides on hot Twingo undercarriage, with a choice of a 1.2 litre, 99bhp turbocharged petrol engine, or the more powerful, conventionally aspirated 1.6 from the Twingo Renaultsport 133.
Abetted by the presence of the cabin-back bulkhead, the Wind suffers none of the halibut-on-a-hot-plate floppiness that so often hallmarks those with nothing above the waistline but a windscreen.
The ride is decidedly firm, but just pliant enough to preserve body control without destroying your dentistry. The steering is quick and accurate, despite a whiff of the rubber plantation about the action, and if you throw the little convertible into a corner in anticipation of the early onset of understeer, you'll be sadly disappointed.
Properly tenacious, the Wind sticks and turns in with all the aplomb of anything ever penned by Renaultsport. Only the brakes are a slight letdown, most notably on the 1.2.
Of the two engines on offer, the 1.2 litre turbo is, perhaps, the sweeter match to this agile, entertaining chassis. However, despite the sub-22kg weight of the roof (some 80 per cent lighter than a conventional folding hard-top), the Wind is something of a porker compared to the Twingo and, with nothing much happening below 3,000rpm, under-bonnet tranquillity on a par with a nest of wasps drowning in Red Bull is pretty much the norm.
Within a range priced from £15,500 to £18,200, £16,400 gets you a choice of either a base specification 1.6 or a more lavishly equipped 1.2. Bluetooth and iPod connectivity being essential to such a blatant boulevardier, the latter seems the better option.
Especially since it's hard to envisage anyone in the market for a car such as this ever seriously plumbing the depths of its surprisingly engaging dynamic abilities.
 
THE FACTS
Price/availability: £16,400/on sale now
Tested: 1.2 TCe 100 Dynamique S. 1,149cc four-cylinder turbo petrol with five-speed manual transmission, front-wheel drive
Power/torque: 99bhp/112lb ft
Top speed: 118mph
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 10.5sec
Fuel economy: 35.3mpg (Urban)
CO2 emissions: 145g/km
VED band: F £125
Verdict: Clever roof, cracking chassis, curate's egg in the looks department.
Telegraph rating: Three out of five

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