Renault has taken the wraps off its new concept car, Altica, a sporty estate that combines flowing lines with a spacious interior. Its dynamic stance is underpinned by a long bonnet and curved forms, while its modular interior ensures outstanding load capacity. Altica stands out as a dynamic vision of the estate, combining the practicality of the latter, the sports appeal of a coupe and a high standard of travelling comfort.
Flowing, sporty lines
The panoramic windscreen and rear window underline the car's fluid aerodynamics. The two-tone paintwork accentuates the side design and also asserts Altica's graphic identity. The car's overall stance - low-slung lines, long bonnet, prominent wings - and proportions express true sports car dynamics. Comprised of a mosaic of transparent panes, the rear quarter lights suggest forward movement.
Altica's interior mirrors its sporty, dynamic exterior design.
The suspended drive station is held in place by four profiled rods that hint at the world of Formula 1. The transparent roof and panoramic windscreen erase the boundary between the interior and the outside world and also ensure a brightly-lit cabin. The mosaic design of the rear quarter lights allows sunlight to filter into the cabin much like it does through stained glass windows and gives the interior a more welcoming feel. The layout and angling of the panes ensure good three-quarter rear visibility for the driver which is indispensable when parking.
The headlamps feature four different modes - daytime running lights (DRL), sidelights, dipped beam and main beam - and function using rows of diodes. They also produce a halo effect when the DRL mode is selected. This is achieved in two ways. First of all, each polycarbonate headlamp module cover is speckled with thousands of small, micro-engraved nicks. Invisible to the naked eye, these nicks have no effect on the beams and permit light to pass unhindered. In the daytime running mode, however, the surface of the module cover is illuminated from the edge. The light is accordingly trapped inside the mass and spreads out like a fluid over the entire surface to produce an original and effective halo effect for the DRL and sidelight functions.
An estate with the accent
on practicality Altica's sports pedigree is reinforced by its scissor doors, the form of which ensures easy access to this low vehicle. The generous interior volumes of Altica provide a very high standard of travelling comfort despite the car's sporty characteristics. Each of the four individual seats boasts outstanding comfort.
Instead of the seats, which are fixed, it is the drive station and pedal assembly that adjust to match the driver's physique thanks to a motorized mechanism. The height-adjustable centre armrest deploys automatically as the driver sits down. The vertical positioning of the dashboard takes its inspiration from the world of aeronautics and permits the driver to feel at one with the car.
The centrally-positioned dial features two display modes: "comfort" and "sport". The "comfort" mode indicates the car's speed in the centre of the display while the perimeter shows the legal speed limits which turn red if exceeded. In the "sport" mode, the speed continues to be displayed in the middle of the dial but the perimeter becomes a digital rev counter and turbo pressure indicator. The graphics of the high-resolution screen provide a distinctly human touch to this high-tech display which itself suggests watchmaker-like precision and sophistication.
Altica features a number of clever storage spaces, including the shell-like glove box, concertina-style storage compartment in the armrests and a tray situated underneath the floor at the rear.
The rear seat backs can be folded into the flat floor which is equipped with straps that permit heavy or bulky loads to be held secure. This layout transforms Altica into a two-seater sports coupe with a vast 1,300-litre boot, while the boot lid provides very easy access and an extremely low loading sill.
Driving pleasure, power and control
Altica is a dynamic sporty estate that combines driving pleasure with a sensation of power and control. With its long bonnet, sports dimensions (length: 4.27m; width: 1.83m) and very low centre of gravity, Altica offers remarkable performance.
Altica's new 177hp 2.0 dCi particulate filterequipped diesel engine takes the car from a standing start to 100kph in just 7.5s. Coupled with a six-speed gearbox, this powerplant - which boasts maximum torque of 380Nm - provides excellent pull-away and mid-range acceleration. This hasn't been achieved to the detriment of fuel consumption, however. The Renault-Nissan Alliance engine is very inexpensive to run and fuel consumption is equivalent to 140g of CO2 per kilometre. In terms of both performance and driving pleasure, it stands out as the best diesel engine in its class.
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