Wind blows in from

Renault

Renault Wind, rear
Renault Wind, side
Renault Wind, front
Renault Wind, interior
Renault Wind, boot
Renault Wind, roof release handle
Renault Wind, rear, detail
Renault Wind, folding roof
Renault Wind, cutaway showing body reinforcement

A TRENDY little convertible is blowing our way from Renault aimed at drivers who want to cut a dash.

The Wind is a style sensation unlike any other car Renault has made before.

But while its looks may be a breath of fresh air its performance does not live up to the name.

With a choice of either 1.2 or 1.6-litre petrol engines the performance is more a breeze than storm force.

The Wind is a two-seat small roadster coupe priced from £15,500 and rivalling the likes of the Peugeot 207 CC, the rag top MINI Convertible and Fiat 500 C.

It's also very like the Vauxhall Tigra which has always found a niche of its own among open top fans.

Certainly, the Wind has a fair amount blowing in the right direction.

Not only is it striking in design - from some angles it resembles a miniature Le Mans racer - it's also surprisingly roomy in the cockpit.

The boot is generously proportioned too at a full supermini-sized 270 litres - enough for a couple of suitcases, which is more than you can get in its rivals.

The roof folds away by flipping backwards into a compartment on top - not in - the boot which means luggage capacity remains the same roof up or down.

Conversion from coupe to roadster takes 12 seconds, the quickest of all little cars of this ilk, but it cannot be done on the move.

At the back of the cockpit there are mesh deflectors to help reduce turbulence inside - and you need them because it's fairly blustery when exposed to the elements.

There are also some aspects of the Wind which are not as slick as they could be.

The roof has to be released manually before it can be folded away and turning the handle to lock or unlock the top requires a fair amount of force.

The rear window is tiny and roof up or down and visibility to the back is awful. The Wind is very difficult to reverse park - or even reverse at all.

Inside, the steering wheel is adjustable only for height, not reach, and the seat height adjuster is tricky to use making it difficult to get comfortable.

There's no vanity mirrors on the sun visors and at the back of the boot there are two substantial and unsightly metal struts which are part of the body reinforcements fitted to keep the Wind rigid. You'll also notice some hefty bolts protruding through the bodywork aft of the rear bulk head.

Most coupe convertibles these days are all singing and dancing but in this respect the Wind is playing catch up.

The car is based on the same platform as Renault's Twingo supermini and built alongside it at the French company's factory in Slovenia.

At 12ft 6ins long it is slightly longer than the Twingo but shorter than Renault's Clio and the two engines available in the Wind are tried and tested.

The 1.2-litre is turbocharged to push out 100bhp while the normally aspirated 1.6 manages 130bhp.

Both are nippy but not over powerful resulting in 0 to 60 acceleration times of 10.5 for the 1.2 and 9.2 for the 1.6. Five speed manual gearboxes are fitted and there is not an auto.

Maximum speeds are 118 and 125mph respectively while average fuel consumption is 44.8 and 40.3 with emissions of 145 and 165g/km.

That is nothing out of the ordinary and although on paper the 1.6 looks the better bet, in reality the 1.2 is more fun to drive.

The bigger engine needs to be worked quite hard to make it tick but when it is on song there is quite a satisfying rasp from the exhaust.

On the road the Wind is very nicely composed and handles well enough to suggest that it could easily take more power - although Renault says it has no plans to add extra engines, including diesels, to the range.

Those bars in the boot and some other body strengthening make the Wind very sturdy and the chassis feels rock solid which all helps the ride and boosts crash protection.

Inside the Wind is well finished with a smart, three dial instrument cluster sitting beneath a gloss finish plastic binnacle which can either be black or red.

The radio and air conditioning controls are a simple set up in the centre of the dash but any sat nav equipment has to be portable - there's no room for a factory fitted TomTom as on some other Renaults.

Door pockets incorporate bottle holders, there's a glove box but it's not lockable and overall interior stowage space is not over generous. A cubby hole or netting on the back bulkhead would not go amiss.

For the time being there are three trim levels available - Dynamique, Dynamique S and Collection, the latter being a special edition of 200 models in the UK costing £17,300 for the 1.2 and £18,200 for the 1.6.

The specials feature leather upholstery, a gloss finish roof, aluminium foot pedals and other sporty tweaks such as chrome door mirror housings and bright speedster style humps exposed on the back.

All versions have electronic stability controls, air conditioning or climate control, alloy wheels and are fitted with cruise control.

Dynamique S versions are priced from £16,400 and included auto wipers and headlamps, Bluetooth phone connectivity and USB sockets as standard features.

What the Wind really has going for it is stand out looks and in this department it's going to be a fashion statement on four wheels.

 

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