Renault has provided a first glimpse of its latest concept car, DeZir, ahead of this year's Paris Motor Show. The DeZir project is the first to be led by Laurens van den Acker and marks the start of a sequence of concept cars that will provide an insight into Renault Design's vision for the future. It also lays the foundations for the styling cues of Renault's forthcoming vehicles.
Under the leadership of Laurens van den Acker, Renault's Design Department has taken its inspiration from the brand's new signature 'Drive the Change' and explores Renault's styling roots to express the company's powerful human dimension via a new strategy founded on the notion of the 'life cycle'. This approach coincides with the introduction of a new Renault design language that takes its inspiration from the three keywords which communicate the brand's vision, namely 'simple', 'sensuous' and 'warm'. In keeping with this strategy, Renault's concept cars will progressively express this vision, paving the way for a product plan based on a range of rational, user-friendly cars.
"DeZir is a statement of our new formal design language which conveys notions such as movement, sensuality and emotion through ideal proportions. The result is a warm, stimulating design that says 'Renault'," explained Axel Breun, Renault's Director of Concept Car and Show Car Design. The result is a two-seater coupe, which features prominent wheel arches that accommodate 21-inch wheels, the design of which took its inspiration from the notion of movement. Meanwhile, the sides feature a combination of flush and recessed forms that play on contrasting light patterns.
The 'Z' in the name DeZir is a direct reference to Renault's zero-emission Z.E. signature, and several features of its design are suggestive of two qualities readily associated with electric mobility, namely advanced technology and light weight. The recessed, linear styling of the front air intake and the entire rear-end convey an impression of lightness in addition to efficiently channeling battery-cooling air from the front to the rear. To provide rhythm and balance to the overall package, this smooth, fluid skin contrasts with the ripple effect seen on the aluminum side panels, roof and headlight 'eyelids'. The design of these features alludes to the ripples, which can form when a breeze blows over water, while the geometric pattern adds an unmistakable high-tech feel. The prevailing bright red color of the body interacts with the graphical forms of the cross-drilled aluminum side panels, which exude a sense of light weight and technology. The geometric forms of the glazed areas are reminiscent of a fighter-plane cockpit or endurance racing prototypes. The absence of a rear window is overcome by the fitment of two rear-facing cameras to provide the driver with a panoramic view of what is happening behind the car. DeZir's front end features a full-width intake, which strikes out either side of a large, vertically-positioned Renault logo. The chrome finish of the lozenge contrasts with the dark aspect of the grille. The air scoops, situated at the outer extremities of the intake, are a legacy of Renault's formal styling language and form an integral part of the intake's design, as do the headlights, which sit above these scoops. The headlights form backlit prisms. The perforated 'eyelids' add to this high-tech feel and contribute to DeZir's lighting signature. Rear lighting is provided by an illuminated, seemingly floating, strip that extends across the full width of the car. The Renault logo is highlighted by backlighting through the fins of the grille and consequently appears to hover in the middle. The gull-wing doors are another feature that embody automotive passion and reveal a refined interior, with the left- and right-hand doors opening in opposite directions.
The interior also suggests lightness. "Love is a sentiment that lifts you; gives you wings," says Stephane Maiore, who was in charge of DeZir's interior styling. "Inside DeZir, you feel like you're floating on a cloud," adds Stephanie Petit, Colours and Materials Designer. The forms are soft and light, while the predominant color is white, although there are also echoes of the same passionate red used for the exterior. The materials employed for the interior include white leather upholstery and trimming for the seats, dashboard and floor, along with a red lacquered finish for the console and accessories. The one-piece, two-seat front bench-seat provides cocoon-like comfort. To emphasize the sensation of shared passion and lightness, it comprises a number of interlocking elements trimmed in white leather, with a quilted pattern on the passenger's side, and a contrasting uniform finish on the driver's side. The embroidered pattern on the leather is based on a graphical representation of the Renault logo. The cockpit-style driver's environment contrasts with the ethereal lightness of the dashboard. The driver's door features a bright red lacquered finish, while the panel of the passenger-side door is trimmed in white leather The dashboard, too, features contrasting finishes, with one part trimmed in white leather and another exudes a more high-tech feel, with a rippled effect. The white bench-seat seems to float on a red-hued bed of light which gently pulses to a rhythm that suggests a beating heart. The centre console houses the transmission-mode selection lever, which reveals luminous petals to indicate the selected mode. The steering column is shrouded in a red housing that extends up to the steering wheel hub itself.
DeZir is powered by an electric motor mounted in a mid-rear position to optimize weight distribution over the front and rear wheels. The vertically-mounted 24kWh lithium-ion battery is located behind the bench-seat and provides the car with a range of 100 miles. Battery cooling is ensured not only by the air channeled from the front, but also by the flow of air that enters through the lateral scoops concealed behind the aluminum panels on either side of the body. The motor is the same as the unit used for Renault's production electric cars, although an evolution has enabled its power and torque to be uprated to 150hp and 170 lb-ft respectively. Three battery-charging methods can be employed: a standard charge using a conventional household plug (fully charges the battery in eight hours);a fast charge using a 400-volt three-phase current (charges the battery to 80 per cent of its capacity in 20 minutes); a fast battery exchange thanks to Renault's Quick Drop technology. In order to optimize range and dynamic performance, Renault Design's technical teams have kept DeZir's weight to a minimum: its body is made from Kevlar, while its tubular steel frame is similar to that employed for the Megane Trophy race car. DeZir's suspension also shares certain features with that of Megane Trophy - including a double wishbone arrangement. DeZir's aerodynamics have been carefully honed, too, thanks to full underbody fairing and a rear diffuser. The result is a drag coefficient of 0.25, as well as outstanding acceleration, with DeZir capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in just five seconds. DeZir's energy efficiency package also includes the recovery of deceleration energy. When the car decelerates, kinetic energy is recovered and stored in the battery. In the case of DeZir, this energy can then be employed by the driver to provide a temporary power boost using a button on the steering wheel.
The dashboard visually mirrors the sensations felt at the wheel by means of a graphic display of data from the accelerometer and speed sensors. The central touchscreen display incorporates a smart navigation system that synchronizes journey information with the driver's diary in order to optimize task management and itineraries. Software incorporated in the dashboard provides drivers with a real-time indication of their energy management ability via a fun interface that uses video-game style graphics. Within the framework of the creation of an audio signature for the brand's upcoming electric vehicles, Renault has been working closely with the highly-regarded IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique, founded by Pierre Boulez in 1969) to define the sound that best reflects DeZir's personality.