Renault Wind 1.6 Dynamique S (2011) long-term test review

Published: 29 July 2011

Time to say goodbye

The Wind blew in on the 28 December 2010 and has just recently blown away again. It was a long visit, which turned out to be a good thing as a convertible arriving in December is not the best time of year to fully test it's main selling point, however the Wind was still with us in the Summer (remember that week or two back in April?) and i am pleased it was. During the summer months the car came into it's own and became more pleasant to drive. A dry dusty road combined with a lairy gearbox that is only really happy being pushed to it's limits, a roof that retracts in 12secs flat sun in your eyes...well that becomes part of owning a roadster.

Not one for using air-con but rather always opting for the, call me old fashioned, window being open instead. The Wind was perfect. Or was it? In the last eight or so months i've enjoyed the Wind in my hair, but i've found a few flaws that i couldn't get to grips with in our time together. It left the office quite split with some loving the Wind and some not so keen, but at the end of the day it was always the last choice car in the CAR car park.

Talking of the windows this is a minor detailed that Renault could easily look at, move the controls, i'll never get over the two curbed wheels due to a lean too far to the left.

The cockpit i found oddly cramped, considering the big sloping dashboard, but the design is quite fitting with the exterior and loosk good, just maybe not as practical as required.

I've become confused over whether the Wind is really targeted at someone of my age and lifestyle, personally i would redirect that target to a much younger audience. My partners 17 year old lad loved the car, the styling and of course it's a convertible so what else did he need, apart from his licence. The general concensus amongst younger adults was indeed the same, they see a funky looking car that has, granted, a deep revvy sounding engine which when pushed to 5000rpm does sound great. A convertible most importantly, good for the street cred i guess. Cool interior design. Mind you how long before they realise driving a two-seater is most inconvenient for their other two mates who were thinking of hitching a ride.

This is a great car for the right person, i'm just not the right person for this car.

By Sarah-Jayne Harrison

A wheely good refurb – 29 July 2011

If you've been reading the Wind long-term updates in CAR Magazine you'll be well aware that a few months back I had an incident in which both driver’s side alloy wheels came away somewhat damaged after a fight with a kerb. My fault – I was fumbling around in the dark for the low-set electric window switches.

A sheepish confession to the office, an internet search and a few phone calls later, and I had the Wind booked into Pristine Alloy Wheels in Milton Keynes for the repair. We've not used them before and I have to confess I was a little concerned when one of the employees informed me that they couldn’t guarantee an exact match for the silver section of the alloys; apparently the black part is much easier though. I left the Wind with them…

And three days later all was fine. I can’t tell where they’ve been fixed and they are, ahem, pristine once more. The repairs costs £136 all in, but as the local Renault dealer quoted me £533 for two new wheels, I consider that money well spent. I plan to now keep them pristine by leaving the electric window switches well alone.

By Sarah-Jayne Harrison

Festival of Speed fun – 7 July 2011

The weather was fantastic on the Saturday afternoon before this year's Festival of Speed, so it didn't take my partner and I long to decide that the Renault Wind was our best option for the drive down to Goodwood.

And if I do say so myself, what a good decision it was. As was the choice to take a few back roads en route. While the Wind has some downsides (cabin ambience, back seat space), the chassis is awesome on a good old B-road. It's grippy, small and agile, the gearbox can be rushed as fast as your wrist can move, and the engine gives its best when wrung out. 

Life hasn't always been easy with the Wind over the winter months, but with the roof down on the way south it was a lovely place to be. Parked up in the hotel car park, amongst a couple of Ghosts, it looked rather good in the evening sunlight too. The rear three-quarter view is definitely its best angle.

The drive back? Well, it consisted of traffic jams. Not quite so much fun.

By Sarah-Jayne Harrison  

Keep pressure washers at a distance – 24 May 2011

A quick update on the leaky roof on our Renault Wind. We dropped it off at the Smiths Renault garage in Peterborough and they spent two days fixing the leak and retesting it under high water pressure.

What was the problem? It seems the seal where the roof meets the passenger side window had started to go. I was surprised on such a new car, but apparently jet washing the Wind had put a lot of pressure on the seals.

So there you go – be careful where you wash your car. I have to admit I've only washed the car once in the past eight months myself; most of the time I visit a hand wash in Peterborough.

Maybe I should stick to the good old-fashioned bucket and sponge after all…

By Sarah-Jayne Harrison

Black paint on our roadster – 4 May 2011

Our Renault Wind has been resigned to the driveway for much of the long bank holiday weekend. I've owned a black car before, but had forgotten just how much dust they can attract.

So today I nipped to the local hand wash to clean it up - and a good job they did too. Only when they jet washed the dust off did I notice a small leak on the passenger side where the roof meets the glass.

It's quite surprising. I've heard of soft-tops leaking under high-pressure hoses, but should a hard top let water in too? I was rather hoping it would stay bone dry.

By Sarah-Jayne Harrison

How long does it take to put the roof down in a Renault Wind? – 19 April 2011

A few weeks back someone asked me ‘Does the Renault Wind roof really retract in 12 seconds?’ I’d never timed it before – all I knew was that it was pretty quick and that's all I really needed to know. Does it matter if it’s 12 seconds, 10sec or 15sec? I’m not too fussed, so long as I’m not waiting all day.

So I dusted down my stopwatch and put the Wind’s folding hard-top to the test. It seemed appropriate; dare I say it for fear of jinxing our early summer days, we’ve been blessed with sunshine here in the east Midlands. And yes, it does fold back and close away in 12 seconds. No complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority here.

However, there are a few niggles. Every time you lower the roof, the windows open all the way too. So once the roof is tucked away neatly, if you want the windows back up to avoid 'Wind' blast you have to manually hold the buttons down to put them up again. I counted and this takes a further eight seconds before you are ready to go.

Going al fresco in the Renault Wind? Let’s call it 20 seconds, all in.

By Sarah-Jayne Harrison

Sun's out, roof down – 29 March 2011 

renault wind convertible roofAs the sun has blessed us with its presence today, a lunchtime drive seemed in order. Now the UK clocks have sprung forwards, it's a great chance to test the Wind's USP.

Glasses on, roof down - in a dozen seconds, no time at all - is the best way to enjoy the Wind. And wind you will enjoy, as the side windows curve down towards the back, letting the breeze blast in. This isn't necessarily a complaint; why would you have the roof down if you didn't want the wind in your hair?

However, on a sunny day like this the deep-set dials are a problem. It's just impossible to read the instruments when the sun is head on. You end up either guessing your speed by the engine sound, or ducking forward to take a quick check that you are abiding by the law.

By Sarah-Jayne Harrison

Dazzling and sizing up the Wind – 7 March 2011

renault wind dialsDrove the Wind last night and noticed a couple of slightly odd things about it: firstly, xenon lights from cars behind me seemed incredibly bright. I thought the first car had badly adjusted headlights, but then it happened twice more – a really bright, off-putting glare. Is it because the Wind is quite low (and, no, the following cars weren’t SUVS), or is it something to do with the rear screen? Whatever, it’s weird.

Secondly, despite it being a tiny car, it’s actually quite hard to see out of. The A-pillars are a pair of blinkers and you can’t see one bit of the front bodywork. Worse, the wipers don’t sit flush under the bonnet, so they narrow the low, sloped windscreen further; if you’re six feet tall or so (and, fair enough, most Wind buyers won’t be), flipping down the tiny sun visor shuts out most of the road ahead.

By Ben Barry

Fitting in the Wind – 17 February 2011

I’m finding my Wind quite uncomfortable. There, I said the obvious pun. But there is a serious point behind the rhetoric.You see, I'm finding the seating position in our Renault Wind a tad uncomfortable. I just end up sitting too high for a roadster, which in turn makes the whole interior feel claustrophobic. And I'm only 5ft 3in. The backrest’s bolsters cushion around me too much. I’m a size 8 and fit snugly in the middle, but my arms have to be left on the edge or flop outside the bolsters, and that’s a chore.  While I’m at it, I tend to pull the seat pretty far forward. Even then I find the electric window buttons too far down and too far away from me; the fact I have to stretch so far forward to reach them concerns me. On the plus side, winter is gradually slipping away and there are the occasional opportunities to get the roof down. Even if I do have a jacket, hat, gloves and heated seat on. Not long til summer now when the Wind should really shine!

By Sarah-Jayne Harrison

Practical issues in the Wind – 25 January 2011

Just whizzed the Wind down to Heathrow for a weekend skiing. First chance I've had to spend a couple of hours in Renault's little roadster. It's an intriguing car but one I suspect will remain a niche sight on UK roads, like the Tigra and others that went before. Here are a few practical observations from my M-way stint.

First, the boot is actually quite generous for a supermini based CC. Mind the enormous bracing struts and you'll easily stow a couple of generous overnight bags. Poor marks for the complete absence of any closing handle inside though - mucky hands at this time of year. 

I found the seat too high for a proper roadster experience (blame those Twingo roots) but it's a fun car to punt along. Could do with a sixth gear on motorways mind. And while the driver's door mirror has a convex edge to eliminate blindspots, the passenger side doesn't, leaving ample scope for errant M25 undertakers to lurk behind those cool but obfuscating flying buttresses.

By Tim Pollard

Long-term test hello – 18 December 2011

Renault wind roadster'I’ve got wind!' 'Sarah, can I borrow your wind?' Yes, the puns will go on and on over the next six months, as they have since it arrived in the office. Renault’s new two-seater roadster first debuted as a concept car back in 2004 at the Geneva show, but the actual production car bears little resemblance to the show car. I think the stylistic changes are for the better, but why did they keep the name?

CAR's testing the Dynamique S version which nabs the 1.6 VVT engine shared with the Twingo Renaultsport and 17in alloy wheels, plus standard auto headlights and wipers, climate control, CD player, MP3 reader and Bluetooth connectivity. All for £17,300 - which is slap bang in MX-5 territory.

I upgraded to metallic black paint, which goes some way to shifting the ‘cute’ look. We've got heated seats, too, but I've yet to find how or where the controls are for this! They should keep the part leather upholstery nice and warm in this unusually cold winter. There really isn’t much else on the options list you can add to the Wind.

I’m really pleased we settled on the 1.6 engine because it sounds awesome. Frustrations of running in over, we're now regularly past 3000rpm and it does possess a good soundtrack. A good job too, since the stereo is awful and there is no point using it with the roof down on a motorway.

While the Renault Wind's Ferrari 575-alike roof folds back in a remarkable 12 seconds with an impressive backward somersault, it takes the windows down with it. No big deal, until you realise that the window controls are low down on the centre console and take almost as long to put back up as the roof does to come down. They’re not one-touch automatic either.

A minor grumble, could become a daily summer pain in the neck, back and shoulders. Roll on warmer spring weather so we can test life al fresco in the Wind. I've a feeling it's going to be an interesting summer...

By Sarah-Jayne Harrison

By CAR's road test team

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