Renault’s new Wind is built at the Company’s Novo Mesto plant in Slovenia on a version of the Clio 2 platform. The Clio 2 is still in production at Novo Mesto for various markets, including France, where it is sold as the Clio Campus. This platform has proved to be a versatile one for Renault, with another version forming the underpinnings for the Twingo — which, coincidentally, is also built at Novo Mesto.
The two engines on offer — TCe 100 and 1.6 16V 133 — are made in Douvrin, France, and Valladolid, Spain, respectively.
The Wind was designed and developed in France, with substantial input from Renault Sport Technologies at Les Ulis near Paris. The chief concern of the RST group was to achieve good bodyshell rigidity with at least tolerably light weight, which is always a difficulty if the bodyshell is to have no (structural) roof. A kerb mass of 1131kg for the lighter of the two models is around 40kg more than a three-door Clio with the same engine. The Wind’s substantial fixed roll-over hoop and rear window give it a head-start over a traditional convertible so far as bodyshell rigidity is concerned.
Renault’s main strategies for stiffening the Wind’s shell are the deployment of reinforcing bars underneath the body and in the boot, reinforcing the sills and fitting a full bulkhead between the passenger compartment and the boot. The final result is a torsional rigidity figure of 9000Nm/degree: very good for a car with no fixed roof panel, though not much more than half of the value we would expect from a hatchback.
Those with long memories will recall that the Fiat X1/9, with its removable targa roof, was designed to meet late-sixties U.S. crash safety regulations that were so stringent they were subsequently abandoned. Unlike many U.S. cars of the time, the little Fiat passed, but its bodyshell was very heavy for its day, with a kerb mass of over a tonne. The X1/9 was also notable for handling better with its roof in place.
The combined weight of the Wind’s roof and its folding system is around 22kg, or a fifth of that of a conventional hard top. One reason for this is its very simple folding mechanism, in which the roof somersaults backwards into its storage compartment. The interior of the roof is then protected from the elements by a sealed lid.
Roof somersaults backwards into its storage compartment.
The folded (or, perhaps, ‘flipped’) roof does not encroach on boot space, which is not too far removed from that of a supermini at 270 litres.
Wheel location at the front is by way of a McPherson-type arrangement using an aluminium lower arm formed using the Cobapress process. This is a hybrid process consisting of forging a cast part, giving superior crystal properties.
The Wind’s front spring-damper units are operated by pushrods; a 22mm anti-roll bar is fitted, and the steering’s power assistance is electric. At the rear there is a conventional torsion-beam setup, with vertically-mounted dampers and variable-rate coil springs. The rear anti-roll bar is of 24mm diameter.
Braking is provided by 280mm ventilated discs at the front and 240mm plain discs at the back. Unusually, Renault quotes braking distances:
50km/h to 0: 10.5m
100km/h to 0: 39m
130km/h to 0: 65m
Both of the power-units on offer are indirectly-fuelled petrol engines, and both are familiar from other models.
Renault’s undersquare 1149cc TCe 100 engine delivers a very respectable 100PS and 152Nm, the latter figure particularly belying the engine’s modest swept volume and low-inertia turbocharger. An ‘over-boost’ feature allows a temporary increase in power and torque — by 5PS and 6Nm — in second, third and fourth gears at engine speeds above 4500rpm. The TCe meets EU5 emissions standards.
Alternatively, you can opt for the atmospheric 1598cc motor from the Twingo Renaultsport 133. This offers a third more power than the little TCe, but at much higher revs, and its torque advantage — again at higher crankshaft speeds — is a meagre 8Nm. Emissions are to EU4 standards.
Both engines come with five-speed gearboxes. The blown TCe runs with markedly higher gearing, at 20.7mph/1000rpm in top against the 133’s 18.4mph/1000rpm.