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Renault Eolab concept (2014) – a Clio for 2020

Published: 16 September 2014

If you’re going to name your new concept car after a Greek god, it had better be pretty impressive. Does the new Renault Eolab make the grade? Let’s see.

The Renault Eolab is coming to the 2014 Paris motor show in October, and before anyone points out that they’ve never heard of Eolab the god of computer peripherals, we should point out that the name is an amalgamation of Aeolous and Laboratory. Aeolous is god and ruler of the winds in Greek mythology; put that together with a bunch of scientists and you can probably begin to see where Renault is going with this.

2014 Renault Eolab concept: eco tech of the not so distant future

Eolab is an investigation into near future eco tech. Renault says it features ‘nearly 100 production-destined technological innovations’, which should start appearing on the French firm’s real world cars before 2020. The highlights include active aerodynamics that reduce drag by 30%, weight reduction measures that save 400kg compared to an equivalent current-generation Clio, and a new hybrid powertrain.

As a result, Renault reckons this 995kg supermini from the future represents a realistic approach to the goal of a 'one-litre' car – a usable vehicle that achieves 100km for every litre of fuel. That’s equivalent to 282mpg, which could really take the wallet-strain out of the the school run.

Is the Renault Eolab in danger of being the nerdiest concept around?

Quite possibly. As well as bearing a passing resemblance to a Cyberman’s head, the Eolab is packed with highly geeky engineering. For example, as part of the weight-saving measures, not only is the bodyshell constructed from a combination of steel, aluminium and composites, the roof is entirely magnesium. At 4.5kg, keeping the rain off requires less than half the weight of an equivalent steel item.

Further mass reduction is achieved via the asymmetrical door design and non-opening bonnet. There’s also thinner glass, LED lighting, a minimalist but high-tech interior and a centre exit exhaust; the brakes save 14.5kg by doing without a master cylinder. The active aerodynamics, meanwhile, range from almost conventional mobile elements front and rear to wheels that react to brake temperature to minimise drag. Oh, and environment-variable ride height.

Renault has helpfully done the maths on all of the improvements. For every 10kg of weight lost, the Eolad saves 1g/km CO2, while maximum aero mode is worth 40g/km – enhanced by the narrow rear track and precisely honed surfaces. Even the tyres are 15% more efficient than those on the Clio.

Z.E. Hybrid: three-cylinder petrol and electric motor

Motivating the Eolab is a 76bhp 1.0-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine paired with a 40kw (54bhp) ‘axial flux discoid’ electric motor tucked away in the clutch casing. The combo drives the front wheels via a three-speed gearbox, achieving further weight savings in the process.

Only a small 6.7kWh lithium ion battery pack is attached to the system, yet the Eolab is still capable of 40 miles on electric power alone. This falls under the ‘weekday’ driving mode, which emphasises low emissions motoring for the daily grind. The alternative ‘weekend’ mode uses both power units together to
go further and with greater performance. Though we strongly suspect performance is a relative term here…

By CJ Hubbard

Former CAR magazine associate editor, road tester, organiser, extremely variable average wheel count

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