Renault turns its iconic classic into a modern compact SUV concept, directly previewing a future production car due in 2025
Following the rebirth of the Renault 5 hatch in concept form, the French firm has reinvented yet another icon from its back catalogue in the form of the Renault 4Ever Trophy concept car, revealed at the 2022 Paris Motor Show.
A concept – for now – the 4Ever directly previews a future production car from Renault; the Renault 4 will go on sale in 2025 as a compact family SUV with an all-electric powertrain – and it’ll sport many of the design cues from this visually impactful prototype.
- New Renault 5 electric car confirmed for production in 2024
According to Laura Gregoire, product leader on the 4Ever project, the silver-coloured parts of the body are very close to the production-ready Renault 4’s look, with the black recycled plastic parts that give this 4Ever Trophy concept its rugged look likely not to make it for the road-going version. It’s thought there will be some cladding for the wheel arches and bumpers, but expect it to be toned down significantly, with the R4’s production body set to be narrower than this machine’s.
Renault chose to launch this concept in ‘Trophy’ form to honour the original Renault 4 and the off-road-prepared models that competed in the 4L Trophy. It’s the 25th anniversary of the humanitarian rally this year, an event that sees entrants endure testing conditions and roads to bring aid and other much-needed supplies to less privileged parts of the world.
There are very obvious design cues that reference the original, modernising the look for the 21st century. The gently rounded tops of the car’s front wings, clever step down in the roofline towards the C-pillars, the trapezoidal rear quarterlight windows (picked out with a contrasting outline for the concept), the lozenge-like rear tail-lights and the raked forward tailgate all pay homage to the new car’s ancestor, but Renault has modernised the design with matrix LED lights and an illuminated Renault logo on the blanked-off front grille panel.
According to Renault Design Vice President Gilles Vidal, “To bring the 4Ever Trophy into the modern era, we have infused its streamlined shape with technological sophistication. All these ingredients have been carefully crafted, with a view for modernity and sophistication, so the design resonates with those who are already familiar with the 4L as it will with younger generations who may not know anything of the car’s illustrious history.”
Don’t expect the big bonnet spars, grab handles and vent to make it production however, and while this concept doesn’t have a functioning boot, a top-hinged hatch like the original Renault 4 – with shut lines flowing down from the roof to the tail-lights and around their outsides down to the bumper – will materialise as the concept morphs from motor show headline grabber to dealer forecourt reality.
There’s no interior for this concept yet, but Auto Express did ask Renault’s execs about the potential to reference the original 4’s iconic umbrella gear lever that protruded from the dash.
Given there’s no need for a gear stick in this automatic EV, how Renault might interpret this design cue for the modern era remains to be seen, but it seems the brand is considering its options and didn’t out-right deny the idea that this could make production.
The 4Ever Trophy is based on the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s CMF-BEV platform for compact electric cars, sharing common parts with the regular CMF-B architecture for combustion-engined cars to help keep costs down.
The concept is powered by a 42kWh battery that feeds a 138bhp motor mounted on the front axle. Renault hasn’t released a weight figure or any performance data for this concept as the car doesn’t physically move yet, but the brand has outlined that the 4Ever Trophy is 4,060mm long and features a 2,570mm wheelbase. By comparison, the reborn Renault 5 – which uses the same CMF-BEV platform – is 3,920mm long, giving some idea of how the production-spec 4 will morph into a fully fledged compact SUV.
It was confirmed to Auto Express that the CMF-BEV platform and therefore the future Renault 4 can’t accept the super-slim battery from its larger sibling, the Megane E-Tech Electric, which is based on the larger, pricier CMF-EV architecture. Heavy use of recycled materials will also feature on the final design to help boost sustainability.
Despite these cost-cutting measures to try and keep the eventual production-spec Renault 4 relatively affordable, retaining a spiritual link with its predecessor, the brand is remaining tight-lipped on a potential starting price. Given the launch date is still three years away and market uncertainty is still very much a prevalent phenomenon, the brand can’t yet say how much its new small SUV might cost.
However, on the subject of price Gregoire did tell us that Renault “wanted to keep the DNA and the social freedom of the original.” Looking at rivals such as the Peugeot e-2008, Hyundai Kona Electric, Kia Niro EV and Vauxhall Mokka-e, a potential starting price of between £30,000 and £35,000 seems reasonable.
Q&A with Laura Gregoire
Q: How do you reinvent a car like the 4 for the modern era without it becoming a total pastiche of the original?
A: We wanted to keep that iconic silhouette and the DNA of the original 4. However, it is easier to modernise a hatchback like the 5, which we showed at the start of the Renaulution; the 4’s shape and volumes are more difficult to reimagine with what we need for today, but with these cars we achieved it twice!
Q: Who will the new Renault 4 production car be aimed at?
A: We want the 4 to be more versatile. The 5 has been designed for mostly urban usage – the 4 is for families, holidays, everything you can throw at it. We want it to be the same as the original. Whether this means it will be bigger than the 5 in terms of sales volume, let’s wait and see.
Q: A hot Alpine version of the forthcoming Renault 5 EV has been confirmed, can we expect an Alpine-tuned Renault 4 model in the future?
A: It’s not in the plan, but we are always evaluating so let’s see – we’ll see if there’s demand.
Q: The original Renault 4 is a French icon, will this car represent the same in the modern era?
A: Sure, it will. We want ‘Made in France’ to be a big attribute of this car and it will be built at Renault’s ElectriCity plant. It’s a massive part of the strategy to reconnect the brand and its roots with the country.
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