With Renault's lineup primarily comprised of passenger cars, space vans, and commercial-type vehicles such as the Kangoo, there is plenty of space to slot in a crossover or small SUV, and this handsome Egeus concept marks Renault's most recent exploration of that theme. The design is a careful and subtle evolution of current Renault design; for example, although the rear profile is steeply raked--like that of a coupe--Renault's characteristic upright rear glass is respected with a vertical line extending upwards from the forward edge of the taillight, and the shoulders formed on either side of the rear window draw their inspiration from the rear quarter-panels of the Clio and Mgane hatchbacks. The heads-on and rear views are visually interesting, but the front vaguely resembles recent production Volkswagens and the rear end looks positively Volvo-esque. Even the profile seems swiped from the Infiniti FX35/45, a corporate sibling.
The rear hatch features a split-level opening, with the top swinging skyward and the bottom--in an idea lifted from the Toyota FT-SX concept from this year's Detroit auto show--is a motorized tray that slides out to make loading cargo easier. Unlike the Toyota, however, the tray is also motorized for height-adjustment, so as to separate cargo above and below should the need arise. Other clever touches include flush-fitting door handles that extend when a hand nears and seats that pivot and lower upon opening a door. Further details, though, such as the huge 22-inch wheels (de rigueur for any concept car) and the suicide rear doors, continue to fill us with the feeling that we've seen it all before.
The Egeus gets its motivation from a 250-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. A fully automatic four-wheel-drive system allows the Egeus to traverse multiple terrains--were it not an obscenely expensive, hands-off, don't-even-breath-on-it show car. That system could see some rough-and-tumble action soon, however: the Egeus is rumored to become reality sometime in 2007. But don't hold your breath for the Egeus--or any Renault--in the U.S. anytime soon.