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Paris Auto Show 2014: Has Renault lost its mojo?

Renault Espace Paris Auto Show 2014aRenault Espace

The Paris Auto Show was the first motor show in the world, established in 1898 by industry pioneer Albert de Dion. This is where French manufacturers are expected to shine, surprise and revolutionise the automotive world. In 1922, an astounding 81 French automobile makers were exhibited at the Show.

Renault Twingo Paris Auto Show 2014aRenault Twingo

As the #1 French manufacturer for the past 70 years, Renault has used the Show in the past to make big noise about new and upcoming models. From the 1947 Paris Motor Show where Renault unveiled the first mass-produced French car, the Renault 4CV, to the 1992 Show where it stunned the automotive world by revealing the Twingo which would go on to achieve legendary success for the brand, and 2002 when the doomed yet prestigious Vel Satis was unveiled.

Renault Espace Paris Auto Show 2014b Renault Espace Paris Auto Show 2014c Renault Espace Paris Auto Show 2014dRenault Espace interior, featuring incredibly cramped and windowless third row seats.

In this context, Renault’s efforts at this year’s Paris Auto Show have left me frankly unsatisfied and a little worried. All Renault’s energy at the inaugural press conference on the first press day was spent talking up the new generation Espace, granted a paramount nameplate for the brand, but with very little sales power. Worse, the world class smarts the first generations Espace showcased have all but disappeared to give way to an SUV-esque silhouette with pretentious interior and ridiculously cramped third row seats. Is Renault starting to take itself too seriously?

Renault Twingo Paris Auto Show 2014bRenault Twingo

The Espace wasn’t exactly new news as its design and most features were known well before the Paris Auto Show, yet it took complete centre stage at Renault’s stand with no less than 10 examples displayed. The other star model on the Renault stand wasn’t new either: the third generation Twingo had been unveiled in Geneva last March and had already hit French roads (#8 in September). Yet there were 7 of them on the stand. Although I have to say I do like the colour-changing light balls hanging from the ceiling that have become Renault’s trademark over the past few international Auto Shows…

Renault Eolab Concept Paris Auto Show 2014Renault Eolab Concept

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. I’m afraid I have to say ‘yes’ to the question “has Renault lost its mojo”. Ever since Dutchman Van der Acker joined Renault, I do not like the designs of the brand (I’m Dutch myself BTW).
    The designs are trying to be very trendy and I think the designs are a bit too much. For instance, the headlights of the Clio are way too big and the car in general is also too large for a B-segment car. However, you wont say that it is that big when you sit in the car. Also, the rear of the Captur looks very Asian to me, not to mention the ‘cheap-ass’ interiors Renaults have these days.
    The design of the Twingo is also not what I expect from a Renault. It looks quite a lot like a Fiat 500, but then with the engine on the wrong side of the car. It is nowhere near the original Twingo of 1992 (which is very hard to do, I know).
    It is a shame that Patrick Le Quement doesn’t work for Renault anymore. His design are still very, very good!

  2. Matt, I do not completely agree with you. Renault’s presentation in this show is indeed weak but this is a random case. They became really strong with the small range (Clio & Captur are massive successes and I predict a very good performance from new Twingo). Waiting next year for new Megane, Megane SUV & Laguna, left the brand with no serious presentation this year but this is the plan for the upper market cars, where traditionally Renault is behind her german rivals.
    VW, Opel and PSA weren’t so strong either in terms of new launches. Opel had mainly a facelifted Corsa and Ford the new Mondeo.

  3. I am not a fan of Renault, but the Clio is a great looking car, especially the Clio Estate. Also the new Twingo is really cool (saw the first one on the road this week). I would actually considering buying one of these two, if I were in need of a new car now. I also really like the Zoe and the Twizy. So, I am not that worried about Renault like I used to be a few years ago.

    But the pace of Renaults development is a little too slow, I feel. The new Megane, new Laguna, new Koleos are urgently needed and should be available NOW.

    And lets not Forget about the funniest joke ever, the Latitude. I mean, that name alone sounds ridiculous in my ears. But, French Automakers choosing funny names is a whole different story: Safran? Vel Satis? Cactus?! Really?! Cactus?

    oh btw: Thanks for the great coverage of Paris 2014, Matt.
    Greetings 🙂

  4. I do not understand your point of view. In Paris Renault has unveiled one of their most iconic and important models for the next years. The new Espace V is the most expensive and luxury Renault since the Vel Satis. In the next Geneve and Frankfurt Auto Shows they will unveiled the next generations of the Megane, Laguna, the new Megane-based SUV, etc..

    In regards to the new generation of the Espace, Renault is just to adapt to what the market demands. The customers nowadays want massive and dynamic SUVs, and not more MPVs. So it makes a lot of sense this new Espace V, the third row seats could be better but the vehicle as a whole looks to be amazing.

  5. A great article as always.
    I would say that Renault certainly lost its mojo a few years ago. The current Laguna (withdrawn here in the UK a few years ago) was a design and sales failure. The Fluence and Lattitude also poor sellers. But the new Clio is outselling its rival the 208 anod the Captur is a big success. The crunch will come with the Mégane replacement.

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