Five Things: wonderfully weird Renaults


Like fellow French manufacturers Citroen and Peugeot, Renault has designed and built some weird vehicles over the years.

Many are inadvertently weird, but some are blatantly, intentionally and brilliantly weird – today we look at five of the latter.

Renault Twizy F1

Renault's Twizy is weird enough, but powering one with a KERS system from an F1 car takes things to a whole new level.

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Renault’s Twizy is weird enough, but powering one with a KERS system from an F1 car takes things to a whole new level.

The tiny electric Twizy is weird, but it makes massively more sense when you consider that a quad bike is road registrable in France and it is not uncommon to see farm quads sporting number plates there.

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And that’s exactly what the Twizy is – a road registrable electric quad with a roof. The weird really comes in when you consider a one-off Twizy Renault built a few years back – the Twizy F1.

Rather than use an F1 engine like the equally mad Espace F1, the Twizy F1 used the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) from a Renault F1 car – yep, it was essentially a KERS system on wheels. And it was awesomely mad!

Renault Avantime

"I really wish my people mover only had two doors" said no-one ever. But Renault made the Avantime anyway.

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“I really wish my people mover only had two doors” said no-one ever. But Renault made the Avantime anyway.

The Avantime was an MPV coupe. No, really, that’s exactly how Renault described it and tried to sell it.

It was literally the only vehicle in that segment ever, and it was blatantly and brilliantly weird, just for the sake of it.

However, “weird just for the sake of it” doesn’t really translate into “sales success” and Renault only ended up making around 8,500 of them, which is only a surprise in the fact that there were actually THAT many people who wanted to buy one in the first place.

Renault Wind

While the Wind looked hunched over and ready for speed, it was fairly unremarkable. Hopefully it didn't break though.

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While the Wind looked hunched over and ready for speed, it was fairly unremarkable. Hopefully it didn’t break though.

The Renault Wind was a small two-seat targa-roofed sports car based on the Twingo that was essentially a bulbous Honda CR-X del Sol – just 12 years too late – and was the last gasp from the French company’s run of fantastically weird cars that looked like they were designed by attacking several normal models with a gas axe.

While blatantly weird and brilliantly bug-like to look at, the Wind was sadly otherwise unremarkable save for two things – its Ferrari 575M-style roof that flipped 180 degrees and its name, that gave British motoring journalists free rein to partake in their two favourite pastimes: making fun of a French car and bad fart jokes.

Renault Clio V6 RenaultSport

A mid-engined hot hatch? Yep, Renault were down for that with the brilliantly mad Clio V6 RenaultSport.

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A mid-engined hot hatch? Yep, Renault were down for that with the brilliantly mad Clio V6 RenaultSport.

The line between weird and awesome is a fine one at the best of times, but the car that seriously blurred that line is the brilliantly mad Clio V6 RenaultSport.

While the Clio Williams hot hatches were all sorts of increasingly over-powered fun, Renault clearly just decided “to hell with it” and jammed a 3.0-litre V6 into the MIDDLE of the Clio for this one.

Well… it’s called a Clio and looks a bit like one, but in reality, it shared very few parts with the standard Clio. But then the Clio V6 is glaringly obvious proof that RenaultSport clearly believe reality is highly overrated anyway.

Renault Espace F1

The Renault Espace F1 was the ultimate expression of speed and practicality - an F1 engine in a people mover!

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The Renault Espace F1 was the ultimate expression of speed and practicality – an F1 engine in a people mover!

The ultimate in blissed-out, totally weird madness, the Renault Espace F1 is what happens when the adults leave the room for too long.

But what a result – built by Matra to celebrate the 10th anniversary of both the Espace and Renault’s involvement in F1 (why have two celebrations when you can awkwardly jam them together into one?), the Espace F1 was a lightweight carbon fibre F1 style chassis with a carbon fibre reinforced Espace body, powered by a 588 kW Renault RS5 V10 engine from a 1993 Williams-Renault FW15C.

Oh, and that engine was actually even more powerful than the standard F1 engine that produced a measly 515 kW…