The Renault Avantime was a coupé/MPV automobile marketed by the French manufacturer Renault (though in fact designed and built by the French manufacturer Matra)...More »
The Renault Avantime was a coupé/MPV automobile marketed by the French manufacturer Renault (though in fact designed and built by the French manufacturer Matra) between 2001 and 2003. Despite, or perhaps because of, its radical and unique design, it suffered from very poor sales and was discontinued after only two years of production.
The Avantime was designed and developed in-house by Renault affiliate Matra, who were given the chance to design a new upmarket Renault in exchange for transferring design and production of the Renault Espace (another Matra design) to Renault themselves. The eventual Avantime design by Patrick Le Quement was intended to offer the luxury and comfort of a coupe with the style and flexibility of an Espace-type MPV, and was first shown in 1999 in concept form at the Geneva Auto Show. However, it took two more years to get the car into production, partly as a result of the work required in getting the pillarless design up to the required safety standards. The vehicle's name comes from the French word "Avant" meaning ahead, and the English word "Time", thus inferring that the car was ahead of its time (the vehicle's name is intended to be pronounced using the English pronunciation of "time", and not the French pronunciation as in "centime"). The car had only 2 doors, which were very large to allow easy access to the two rear seats, and hinged in a unique way so they could be opened in relatively small spaces, such as car parks. Renault's 24 valve, 250 hp (186 kW) 3.0L V6 engine was coupled to a 6-speed transmission.
Though other ambitious Renault designs in the first few years of the 21st century like the Mégane and Laguna were quite well-received and successful, the Avantime's sales were extremely poor (and did not move out of double digits in many countries). The car's fortunes were not helped by the introduction of the Renault Vel Satis (another large, quirky, upmarket Renault) at virtually exactly the same time. When Matra decided to pull out of the automotive production business in 2003 (partly as a result of the financial loss incurred by the poor sales of the Avantime), Renault chose to discontinue the Avantime rather than move its production elsewhere. Only 8,545 were built from 2001 to 2003.
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