10 December 2011

Blast from the past - Renault Initiale

Renault Initiale Concept was introduced back in September 1995. At that time, Renault was very well-known for its concept car that adopted controversial but distinctive styling. The avant-garde looking Initiale was more than just a styling exercise. It portrayed Renault quest in entering executive saloon market. Also, it set Renault design language for years to come, especially with the similarly avant-garde looking car such as Renault Avantime and Renault Vel Satis. These two cars similar kind of rear end treatment, with wacky upright rear screen wrapped by big hatchback. To certaint extent, the second generation Laguna did resemble the Initiale rear styling, especially at the C-pillar area and its intersection with the hatch.

Renault Initiale Concept was powered by a detuned Formula 1 engine, in this case it was RS6 3.5l V10 modified by RenaultSport division. In this application, the F1 engine pumped out 392bhp@8000rpm and 360Nm@6200rpm. Channeling the drive via 6 speed sequential gearbox to all wheels, the engine catapult the big saloon to 305 km/h. Very detuned indeed.
To emphasize further its intention in moving upmarket, Renault has assigned Louis Vuitton to design a custom luggage set for the Initiale. As can be seen above, the luggage matched the car even in its color scheme, and typical to the customized luggage, the storage capability was maximized due to deletion of dead space. Read more after the jump.
Initiale featured a luxuriously set interior deco. The comfy leather sofa-like seating could even rotate 20 degrees to facilitate entry and exit on and from the cabin. The ambiance was light and airy courtesy of the glass roof with controllable tinting. Light beige and maple wood light tone accentuated this even further. The cabin featured the advanced entertainment systems of mid 90's, namely the DVD player, roof mounted LCD, laser-disc player and a climate control.

Unfortunately for Renault, their ambition to grow upmarket did not really go according to plan. The luxurious Vel Satis was deemed as too quirky for executive market. The radical Avantime fares no better. The 4 seater layout on coupe-MPV bodystyles was never well-received in any market it was introduced to.