Renault put in the strong showing you'd expect from France's biggest car maker on its home turf, with six new cars or concepts led by two versions of the new Megane. There's also the production versions of the Laguna Coupe and the shortened, three-door Kangoo Be Bop, and two new concepts in the Ondelios grand tourer and the Z.E. electric car.
Tell me more about the new Megane, and the Ondelios and Z.E. concepts
There's no doubting the significance of the new Megane for Renault and for French industry generally; it accounts for a third of Renault-brand sales and 8 million have been sold since the launch of the first one in '95.
Renault showed the three-door coupe for the first time and the five-door hatch, which we'd already seen. It's playing it safe with the styling, which may prove a mistake; the equally timid Laguna has been a sales disappointment.
Four of the Megane's seven diesel engines will emit less than 120g/km and there's an impressive new 1.4 petrol turbo with 130bhp and 142lb ft of torque. Better quality is Renault's big message with this car, and the availability of options like an automatic parking brake and keyless entry and ignition, usually associated with bigger cars. The five-door comes to the UK in November 2008 and the coupe follows in January 2009.
But this being Renault, there are also two mad concepts. The Ondelios examines a possible future Renault range-topper; it's a big, spacious SUV but uses lightweight materials and a diesel hybrid powertrain to cut consumption and emissions. Is Renault lining itself up for another Avantime?
We hope so, even if its shareholders don't. The Z.E concept is based on the Be Bop and uses the exchangeable lithium-ion battery system that will power the electric cars Renault and Nissan will have on sale in Japan and the US by 2010 and Israel, Denmark and probably other European countries by 2011.
But it won't look like the mad X.E. The production electric car will be based on the saloon version of the new Megane, likely to be badged Fluence.
What else is new on the Renault stand
The production version of the Laguna coupe made its show debut with two new V6 engines, a 235bhp diesel and a 240bhp 3.5 V6. It comes to the UK in January with the 4 Control four-wheel steer chassis from the Laguna GT. The 3.8m-long Be Bop is a three-door version of the Kangoo with a retractable rear roof section and screen, arriving in the UK in spring 2009.
CAR's verdict: Renault at the Paris Motor Show 2008
Six new cars, including two genuine debuts and two mad concepts make this a strong show for Renault; pity its new Megane isn't as bold as the last was
CAR's Renault show score: 4/5
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