Renault Coupe Corbusier (2015): the architect-appreciating concept car

Published: 22 October 2015

► Celebrates French architect Le Corbusier
► Inspired by 1930s ‘golden age’ design
► No production relevance, a pure flight of fancy

This is the beguilingly bonkers Renault Coupe Corbusier, a design study created to mark 50 years since the death of the celebrated French architect Le Corbusier.

Said to be inspired by ‘the modernist principles and theories’ of Le Corbusier (born Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris), it’s designed to nod to the ‘golden age of the automobile in the 1930s.’ Hence the heavily front-engined proportions, outward-pushed wheels and running board-style side features. The concept was revealed today as part of an exhibition at Villa Savoye near Paris, a modernist villa designed by Le Corbusier in the late 1920s.

Wow! When’s the production version coming?

Don’t get too excited. The Coupe Corbusier is anything but a production-relevant study, and its design cues are unlikely pop up on the next Clio. Instead, it’s a pure styling flight of fancy created as part of an exercise to get Renault’s design team’s creative juices flowing. Tellingly, Renault has neglected to mention any powertrain details – this is a visual design study, not an engineering one.

At any rate, we’d call it a welcome return to the kind of boundary-pushing, wilfully odd automotive car design French manufacturers are really quite good at.

Here’s the official line from Renault:

‘The Design teams at Groupe Renault regularly work on future-looking topics unrelated to range renewals, helping them to explore new ways forward and offering creative staff more leisurely moments.

‘Beginning two years ago, the teams decided to investigate the topic of “French cultural objects”. Their research and inspirations soon led them back to the golden age of the automobile in the 1930s. The influence of Le Corbusier asserted itself as the obvious source of reflection, as a conceptual prequel to the modern automobile.’

If this is the result of the designers’ more leisurely moments, maybe they should put their feet up more often.

By James Taylor

Former features editor for CAR, occasional racer