You can buy a Renault Wind for £2,500. That’s a small amount to pay for a car that was 40 per cent unique and developed by Renaultsport.
Of course, it’s customary to start any article on the Renault Wind with a reference to its unfortunate name. The car industry is littered with excellent names inspired by winds: Scirocco, Bora, Jetta, Mistral and Khamsin, to name but five. Renault’s approach was more route one – and far less inspired.
Although the name wasn’t wholly responsible for the Wind’s demise, it can’t have helped. The Carry on Renault name made it a soft target for motoring journalists, who must have been blown away by the opportunity for some headline writing japes.
The Renault Wind lasted just 18 months in the UK. In 2012, when Renault took a knife to its model range, the Laguna, Espace, Modus and Kangoo were, ahem, gone with the Wind. Sorry.
Would it have stood a better chance with a less end-of-the-pier name? Calling it the Renault Twinster might have lent it some of the positive attributes of the Twingo while highlighting the appeal of the roadster design. Not that it was a roadster in the truest sense of the word.
The overall effect was one of a ‘targa’ – less wind-in-your-hair, and more slight breeze on the top of your barnet. In profile, the Renault Wind looked comically slab sided, with an appearance of something that might have been advertised by June Whitfield on daytime TV. Leave the roof open and the Wind could turn itself into a walk-in bath.
It was also too narrow, which meant it looked rather awkward from certain angles. Worse still, this made it quite cramped if travelling two-up. At least Renault had the sense to make it a two-seater, rather than trying to include rear seats that would left a pair of macaques begging for more space.
Still, the roof mechanism would have impressed the macaques. In a piece of theatre to rival the Ferrari 575 Superamerica, the Renault Wind’s rear deck would rise up, ready to welcome the single-piece roof. This would rotate through 180-degrees to create an open cabin. The process would take 12 seconds, by which time, given the great British weather, it was probably time to put it up again.
Roof up or down, the boot space was on par with the Renault Clio, which is a triumph of fine packaging. This was lost amidst the flatulence-based ‘hilarity’.
Renault must have spent a fortune developing the roof, but it didn’t stop there. While Ford saved money on the Puma by using the Fiesta’s dashboard, Renault created something bespoke for the Wind. It might have featured a steering wheel large enough for the Trafic van, and the quality of the plastics left a lot to be desired, but it was unique.
There were two engines, both of which were borrowed from the Twingo. The 1.2-litre turbo produced 100hp, while the Renaultsport Twingo-sourced naturally aspirated 1.6-litre produced 133hp. Both had positive attributes – the 1.2 was perhaps best suited to those who fancied effortless boulevard cruising, while the 1.6 was on hand for those who craved some open-air RS Twingo thrills. Interestingly, the five speed gearbox was sweeter in the 1.6.
At launch, the Renault Wind cost upwards of £15,500, so it’s hard to see how the company made any money on the car. When you develop a trick roof mechanism, create unique body panels and build a largely bespoke interior, you expect some return on your investment. Given the fact that sales in mainland Europe ended in 2013, it’s hard to see how Renault could have made anything other than a significant loss.
Renault’s loss is your gain. Prices range from £2,500 to £5,000, and because the Wind shares its oily bits with the Twingo and Clio, it shouldn’t be too painful to maintain. Heck, the Renault Wind Gordini could pass as a fun size Alpine, albeit without the A110’s sporting credentials.
Ten years on from its launch, the Wind’s biggest crimes appear to be its name and the fact that it didn’t drive as sweetly as a Mazda MX-5. But contrary to what you might read in some motoring mags, not everyone wants to take their two-seater to the ragged edge. Some just want their car to make them feel good, which is where the Renault Wind excels.
It’ll turn as many heads as a six-figure supercar, especially when you go ‘full peacock’ by engaging the roof. It’s more exclusive than a Porsche, and will be welcome at more posh dinner parties than the contemporary Peugeot 207CC. Like so many other products of Dieppe, the Wind’s stock appears to be rising.
The Renault Wind must be filed alongside cars like the Avantime and Vel Satis as examples of what can be achieved when a manufacturer skis off-piste. Which is why PetrolBlog is considering a Wind as the car to replace the Megane, whenever that time comes.
In the meantime, thank Renault for producing the only Wind that’s not embarrassing to be let out in public. Other wind-based puns are available.
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To be honest I do quite like these, a bit too small for me physically, but there was a Black one that lived in Southampton for a long time and always thought it looked quite smart
Its time is now, can’t believe its 10 years!
PetrolBlog outlived the Renault Wind by about seven years. Blimey!
I’m the owner of a Renault wind and I’d love for you to interview our little community, I’m a 20 year old male and I’ve tricked it out with just a few bits and bobs to make it the care it was meant to be and I can’t find better value or smiles per miles in any other car at this age 🙂
I believe the roof system was from a design patented by Leonardo Fioravanti, who originally developed it for the Alfa Romeo Vola, eventually making it to the Superamerica. (According to Autozine and thedrive.com back in 2010), Renault licensed the design, and the protective flap that the roof folds into was added due to the issue of dust and leaves that got dumped all over the Ferrari interior when it closed. I don’t know who added that though, Fioravanti or Renault or a collaboration of the two. I don’t know if it’s the exact same system now used on the F8 Spider, but they certainly included a protective cover this time, like the Wind. I bought a Wind last year to use for commuting to work and it’s actually a lot of fun. Certainly not a sports car, but it’s fun with the roof on or off.
Thanks for this. Yes, it’s always funny watching a Superamerica dump a load of leaves into the cabin!
Hope you’re enjoying the Wind. Cool car.
Yeah I am very happy with it, although I have just had it MOT’d and something to note for potential owners is that although they do share parts with the Twingo, it’s specifically the Twingo 133 RS, even if you’ve gone for the 1.2 Wind, and the garage did have trouble sourcing parts for the suspension arm and bushes (they have to be done together as it’s a single unit) I had to get them from ebay in the end, whereas I never had that trouble getting parts with my ’99 Alfa 156. This was just a general garage though, so maybe an independent Renault specialist will have more resources, Also the costs differ between the two engines when it comes to cambelt replacement. The 1.6 involves removing the entire front of the car which generally doubles the cost for the 1.2 replacement which can be done in the engine bay without any dismantling of the car,
Other than that, had no problems whatsoever. I was living in Scotland when I bought it, started great in the very cold weather, it’s very grippy, reminded me of my old AX. Motorway cruising is better than most small cars. I prefer it over our Fiesta (a much bigger car in comparison) for long journeys. The turbo is a lot of fun, the heater is good so if it’s sunny enough in the spring or even early autumn months but not quite warm enough (say around 15 degrees) you can still enjoy putting the roof down, I’m 5′ 11 in height and it doesn’t really feel cramped at all. Lot of leg space and the design of the footwell and centre console means there’s nothing bashing against my knee like I have with most cars. Seat is height adjustable. The stereo on the GT Line is the better of the options for audio. It has great connectivity with mobile devices with very nice and easy to operate wheel controls. I believe the lower trim levels come with rather underpowered stereos which are inaudible with the roof down. Boot space is fantastic thanks to that roof design. Get more shopping in than I do the Fiesta!
one of the best cars i have ever had,lots of fun to drive,and lots of people have said how nice it looks
I bought a 1.6 Wind last July. Great fun and nice to drive roof up or down. The biggest criticism is it could do with a 6th gear as the engine revs quite high at motorway speeds and a higher gearing would make it more relaxed. Cheap to buy and cheap to run so far. 38mpg.
I have now owned the Renault Wind for about two and a half years so have given it a good chance. It was a little uncared for when I picked it up and needed some TLC with a mileage of 33K on the clock. It is now however, my pride and joy in compact form. Reliable, great to drive, big boot, bullet proof engine and the roof comes off at the press of a button. What’s not to like?
A constant a topic of conversation when you park up.
Cam belt can be a little pricy to change but that probably goes for most belt driven cars. Servicing is relatively easy if you are a DIYer like I am with everything reasonably accessible. Parts are not outrageously priced and most easily available. However, as a side note, new springs can only be obtained from a dealer as I have found.
The interior has a lot of scratchy plastic but this is counterbalanced by some very nice grippy leather seats, if you go for a higher spec’ed model. Agree with all the positive comments raised thus far on this forum and believe it is on the road to being a classic in years to come. Most cars which have a Limited Edition run, in this case 200 of the Collection model, usually end up become collectors car. Try finding one now.