"You don't measure a coupè by any objective reckoning. What matters is how it looks - beauty alone is the rationale behind any coupé. In essence, creating a two-door car to pass the head-turning test means you pay more for less; fewer doors, less room and reduced practicality ... "
Autocar, 17 April 2002.
This view from one of the Britain's most respected motoring titles is about to be turned on its head when the Renault Avantime goes on sale in the UK on 16 May 2002. A Grand Touring (GT) Coupé that seeks to offer features normally sacrificed in other coupés. Avantime excels at the fundamentals expected of an executive coupé - comfort, style and performance - wrapped in a distinctive, innovative attention-grabbing design. However, the interior is light and airy, not dark and claustrophobic, the rear seats can be used by adults over long distances and the luggage compartment is larger than an S-class Mercedes-Benz meaning you don't have to choose between rear-seat passengers or more than one change of clothing! Three weeks before this radical new car hits UK roads, Renault is announcing the model line-up with its equipment levels and on-the-road prices.
Avantime both challenges the current orthodoxy regarding the design of the executive coupé and rediscovers a long forgotten sector - that of the luxurious Grand Touring (GT) Coupé with space for at least four adults to relax and travel in comfort.
The two-door GT Coupé Renault Avantime offers a new breed of luxury motoring unparalleled by any other vehicle on the road today. The combination of performance and driving enjoyment, the luxury of interior space and comfort - heightened by the panoramic glass roof and windows - high driving position, advanced on-board technology and a powerful engine puts Avantime at the top of the wish list of anyone seeking to stand out from the crowd, see and be seen, in style and in comfort.
In creating the Avantime, Patrick Le Quément, Renault's Design Director has shown that a car that offers all the fundamentals of a coupé - comfort, style and performance - does not have to be cramped, impractical and expensive, but can offer these qualities in spacious, head-turning architecture.
Not only does Avantime offer another choice to the executive coupé customer, it will also catch the eye of buyers looking for a replacement for their 4x4, those who no longer need a top-of-the-range MPV, or executive saloon owners who still want to occasionally use the rear seats to carry friends and large amounts of luggage without having to keep resorting to a four-door saloon.
Two trim levels offer luxury cruising
The new Renault Avantime will be available in two trim levels when it goes on sale - Dynamique and Privilège. Each trim level offers a specific trim and upholstery combination creating different cabin ambiences to suit the customer's preference in addition to a host of core features available on Avantime.
Avantime offers a number of core features that distinguish it from its competitors in the executive coupé sector. Obviously its appearance is unique in the sector, featuring innovative engineering solutions. The upper structure of the car is aluminium - which appears in its natural colour - while the rest of the coachwork is of composite materials. Dropping the side windows reveals the car to have no B-pillars. This rare styling creates a sense of freedom, providing superb visibility, emphasised by the glass roof - featuring the largest panoramic sunroof on a car - whose Venus glass filters out infra-red rays and absorbs virtually all the sun's energy, avoiding passengers overheating. Sunblinds also screen the two sunroofs.
To complete the sense of freedom the Avantime features an 'Open Air' function which controls the opening of all windows and the panoramic sunroof at one time, transforming the car from coupé to cabriolet with one touch of a button.
Entry to the cabin is aided by the lack of the B-pillar and a totally new design of door which provides a wide enough opening for occupants to comfortably enter the rear or front seats without the door's long 1.4m length creating an obstacle, such as in a tight parking bay or at the roadside by blocking the footpath. But thanks to a revolutionary double-kinematic hinge system, the door first opens parallel to the body and then pushes outward reducing the swing of the furthest edge of the door.
Once inside the accommodation is luxurious. Avantime is designed to carry four adults on long journeys in the optimum comfort, a fact that is reflected in the provision of four fully or partly leather upholstered armchair-style seats with height-adjustable headrests. All seats are provided with a centre armrest, with the rear one able to fold away making room for a third passenger if necessary. The front passenger's seats integrate their seatbelts, which feature double pretensioners, making the wearing of the belt more comfortable no matter what the position of the seat.
Storage for traveller's belongings is more than ample inside Avantime with a total of 530 litres in the boot plus a further 27 litres from spaces around the cabin such as in the front centre arm-rest, passenger-side glovebox and drawers in the centre of the dashboard. In addition the rear seats split 70/30 accommodating a larger amount of luggage.
The first model of Avantime is Dynamique, which is available with one interior treatment as standard. This features beige facing on the lower part of the dashboard with black facing on the upper part, and carbon effect dash inlays. Upholstery is a mix of Ebony Black leather with cloth centre panels.
Two optional interior treatments - called Avantgarde Leather packs - are also available on the Dynamique model. Pack One offers six different colour leathers - Pearl Grey, Amazon Green, Inca Red, Nautical Blue, Ash Grey and Lava Grey - covering the dashboard and door cappings with aluminium effect dash inserts, plus light grey roof lining. The seats and steering wheel are covered in black leather.
Pack Two adds a choice of the same six coloured leathers to the centre panels of all four seats and to the rim of the steering wheel, plus heated front seats with electric lumbar adjustment and Cruise control with speed limiter.
The Dynamique model is fitted with the 2.0 16V Turbo petrol engine and six-speed manual transmission. A five-speed automatic will be available in 2003. Offering 165bhp at 5,000rpm and 250Nm of torque at only 1,750rpm, the 2.0T manual Avantime reaches 62mph in 9.9 seconds and can reach a top speed of 126mph. Further benefits of the 2.0T engine include its low CO2 emissions of 218g/km and average fuel economy of 30.7mpg in the mixed cycle.
Standard equipment on Avantime Dynamique includes:
Power-assisted steering, ABS with Brake Assist, ESP and traction control, front and lateral driver and passenger airbags plus front and rear curtain airbags, load limiters and double pretensioners on front seatbelts, trip computer, ISOFIX child seat mounting points on outer rear seats, electric heated door mirrors, glass roof with panoramic sunroof plus one-touch front electric opening sunblind, 60 Watt single-CD HiFi with hand-held remote control, automatic climate control with sunlight and temperature sensor featuring individual driver and front passenger controls, electric front one-touch windows with anti-pinch facility plus electric rear windows, heat-reflecting windscreen, reach adjustable leather steering wheel, 17-inch 'Rhodes' alloy wheels, Xenon headlights with washers and front fog lights, and electric height-adjustable driver's seat.
Among the many options will be:
160 Watt dash-mounted Multi-CD HiFi, Carminat satellite navigation system, parking proximity sensor, Avantgarde leather packs, cruise control with speed limiter, Black/Beige coloured leather steering wheel, electrically folding door mirrors, electrochrome rear view mirror, automatic rain sensitive wipers and heated windscreen.
The on-the-road price for the Avantime Dynamique is £24,050 for the 2.0 Turbo.
The second Avantime model is Privilège, available with two interior treatments as standard. These feature beige facing on the lower part of the dashboard with black facing on the upper part, and aluminium dash inlays and a choice of two upholsteries. Upholstery is either of Eclipse Black leather or Sahara Beige leather.
Both Avantgarde leather packs remain available as options.
The Privilège model is fitted with the 3.0 V6 24V petrol engine and six-speed manual with optional five-speed automatic transmission available at launch. Offering 210bhp at 6,000rpm and 280Nm of torque at 3,750rpm, the 3.0 V6 Avantime reaches 62mph in 8.6 seconds in manual form (9.2 seconds in automatic) and can reach a top speed of 138mph (134mph). Further benefits of the 3.0 V6 engine include its CO2 emissions of 266g/km (271g/km) and average fuel economy of 24.9mpg (24.6mpg) in the mixed cycle.
Additional standard equipment on Avantime Privilège includes:
Parking proximity sensor, electrochrome rear view mirror, cruise control with speed limiter, automatic rain sensitive wipers, electrically folding door mirrors, metallic paint, heated windscreen, 160 Watt dashboard mounted Multi-CD Hi-Fi, electric lumbar adjustment and heated front seats.
Carminat satellite navigation system, Avantgarde leather packs, Black/Beige coloured leather steering wheel, and pre-telephone equipment.
On-the-road prices for Avantime Privilège 3.0 V6 are £27,050 for the six-speed manual and £28,450 for the five-speed automatic.
In a competitive arena a new alternative can make all the difference
In the face of competition from rival executive coupés such as the Mercedes-Benz CLK, Volvo C70, Saab 9-3 Coupé and Peugeot 406 Coupé, the Renault Avantime makes the best argument for customers buying this type of car for reasons of style, comfort and performance. In a sector where most of the competitors force a compromise on their owners, Avantime offers many unique pleasures.
Renault expects a 60/40 split in sales of Avantime between the six and four-cylinder versions respectively. Indeed the 2.0 Turbo Dynamique is expected to capture 40% of sales, the 3.0 V6 Automatic Privilège another 40% and the 3.0 V6 Manual Privilège 20%.
When Avantime goes on sale on 16 May in the UK, owners of the current crop of executive coupés, top-of-the-range MPVs, 4x4s and sporty saloons will finally have a modern 21st century design to choose when looking for their next car. Whether looking for comfort and performance, head-turning good looks, the ultimate luxury of interior space or road presence, Avantime satisfies all desires. And for under £30,000 what other manufacturer can offer such a stunningly modern motor car?Published 2 May 2002