Renault has created an exciting little sportscar with a big heart, writes Edward Stephens.
Renault has a knack of coming up with something different and it’s latest creation, the Wind, is certainly that.
This tiny bug-like two-seater is a real seat-of-the-pants sports car which in many ways takes you back to basics while at the same time being a well-equipped car.
It offers open-top motoring fun at a sensible price and in a compact form.
And the speed with which it switches from an open top sportscar to a fully enclosed coupe means you are unlikely to ever get wet. In fact the innovative hard-top can be retracted in just 12 seconds – which is quicker than almost anything else on the road.
The rotating roof principle – which the car shares with the Ferrari 575 Superamerica, but at less than a tenth of its price – is so clever it needs to be seen to be believed.
Release the interior catch, push a button near the gear shift and the ingenious roof mechanism rotates it through 180 degrees to fit on top of the boot area below a metal cover which opens to receive it.
And because the roof is not actually placed inside the boot you don’t loose any luggage space. In fact, the boot is surprisingly large for such a small two-seater, offering 270 litres of luggage space which is ample for a good sized suitcase and some soft bags.
That means that, unlike a lot of current convertibles, you can actually head off on holiday with the roof down and the boot full. The interior of the Wind has a real cockpit feel to it. It’s intimate and cosy, but because you sit low down with no real view of the bonnet it wouldn’t suit everyone.
The low-set seats – in my car they were in an optional tan leather – are soft and amazingly comfortable but at the same time are sporting enough to hold you firmly in place.
Aluminium pedal covers, a sports steering wheel and a range of satin chrome details all add to the sporting feel of the car, as does the deep set dials, although in certain lights with the roof off I had problems reading the figures on the speedometer.
The Wind is available with a 1.2-litre engine or the feisty 1.6-litre VVT 133 in the car I drove, which will hit 62mph in a very respectable 9.2 seconds. It’s an engine which is both responsive and flexible, making the Wind a very willing little sportscar.
It’s a model which has certainly got an impressive pedigree, being built on the same platform as the Clio II Renaultsport and using the same 1.6-litre engine that powers the Twingo Renaultsport.
Whichever engine you opt for it will have a short ratio five-speed manual gearbox and mine had a great sounding, distinctly throaty exhaust, all of which put a bit of fun back into driving and a smile on the face of the person behind the wheel.
Standard equipment in the Dynamique includes 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning and cruise control with speed limiter.
Renault Wind Dynamique
Mechanical: 100 bhp, from 159cc, four cylinder petrol engine driving front wheels via a five speed manual gearbox.
Max speed: 118 mph 0-62 mph: 9.2 secs
Combined mpg: 40.3
CO2 emissions: 159g/km
Warranty: 100,000 miles/three years