The Renault 4L – or ‘Quatrelle’ – sold over 8 million units for over than 30 years from 1961 until 1994 in more than 100 different countries. The iconic little Renault 4L was built to satisfy the demand for a mass-produced economical vehicle, and now it has been subjected to the concept treatment to celebrate the 60th anniversary year.

For this one-off concept, Renault has got together with Mathieu Lehanneur to create a modern all-electric take on the popular Renault economy vehicle which they call the Renault Suite No4. It’s a curious looking car, that might have a few features that would possibly put many potential buyers off – like the almost privacy-free exposed rear compartment.

Of course, as a one-off Renault concept, Lehanneur has had a bit more freedom to push the boundaries a little more than might normally be the case – so much so that the French designer used the idea of a rolling 4-wheel French hotel suite as inspiration. The rear is basically a polycarbonate series of window panels that give the car an ultra-modern curvy greenhouse look, while down below a wooden floor offsets the futuristic feel a little. The open-plan rear is further intensified with the use of see-through polycarbonate panels continuing below the doorline. Up front, the highly polished aluminium grille is certainly providing a look I have not seen on any car before.

Lehanneur says he wanted his design to combine architecture with the world of the automobile. Even the concept’s paintwork is an ingenious 3-way illusion designed to make the paint look like cement. It reminds me somewhat of the American mountain bikes that Californian company Marin put out in the late 1980s, featuring tough Teflon-style charcoal coloured paintjobs that felt to the touch more like a light grade sandpaper.

Inside, the front two seats are given a velvet and chenille trim – probably not the most durable, but another testament to the freedom of choice Lehanneur was able to exhibit. Up top, the roof contains transparent solar panels which can help recharge the battery while on the go while not restricting the massive throughflow of light in the rear; a very practical solution that will surely become available on more and more devices that we can own in the future. That odd looking bulge at the rear is a simple pull-out bench seat that allows users to take a break while being sheltered by the open flip top rear opening.

The Renault Suite No4 concept is no bigger than the original Renault 4L, which would in real day-to-day terms make the rear ‘hotel room’ compartment a little impractical, although having said that, we already have tiny so-called capsule hotels for overnight budget stays in Japan. Perhaps more practical is the idea that this intriguing little concept vehicle will herald a completely new Renault 4 EV loosely based on the same principals as the original Renault 4. It’s all part of Renault’s ambition to become the manufacturer with the highest percentage of green sales in Europe within the next few years, and with 90 per cent of the company’s models being fully EV by 2030.

So you see, even the concept vehicle that seems to hark back to the good old days, when most concepts were a little more wacky, has a serious side. Although at this time of year I can’t help wishing I had a Renault Suite No4 to overwinter my less hardy perennials.

Images : newspressuk.com

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