RE: Renault Avantime V6 | Spotted

RE: Renault Avantime V6 | Spotted

Monday 2nd March

Renault Avantime V6 | Spotted

There may not be a Geneva show this year, but this 1999 debutant remains just as striking two decades later



"Does the Avantime signal the end for 'normal' saloons?" pondered an anonymous author back in 2002, in a PH article entitled "The End is Nigh". Unfortunately, thanks to the uniquely steadfast way that the PistonHeads website functions, the rest of the article beyond the headline and standfirst is unviewable, lost to the same dark corner of the internet which hosts the Ann Widdecombe Fan Club and the Adobe Flash downloader.

With over 20 years of hindsight, however, we can now definitively answer that writer's question. No, the Avantime did not spell the end of traditional saloon cars - it would take another decade or so for the far more hateful crossover to threaten the three-box coffin with its final nail. In fact, the only thing which the Avantime's arrival signalled a fatal lack of interest in, was the Avantime itself.


The model's tepid reception wasn't entirely beyond the expectation of its creators, of course. Its very name is a portmanteau of the French word 'avant', meaning ahead, and the English word 'time', meaning the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole.

That name appears rather more hubristic than self-deprecating, however, when viewed alongside the words of Philippe Guedon, the CEO of Matra Automobiles, which built the car for Renault. The model would be "reasonably profitable", he predicted, if they could sell 60,000 to 80,000 units over five to six year production run, "but our ambitions would be greater."

In the end just 8,557 examples were built in two years, before (Avan)time was called on production in 2003. But why? To look at the Avantime today you'd be hard pressed to believe you were regarding a product of the '90s. Based on an Espace floorpan, the Avantime made use of aluminium for its structure and panels, countering the mass of its revolutionary B-pillarless greenhouse - including a full-length retractable sunroof made from strengthened heat-reflecting glass - to keep its kerb weight down to 1,741kg.


In contrast to the seven-seat Espace, it sported just four luxurious chairs, each clad in Bridge of Weir leather and came with opulent features like powered sunshades and an 'Open Air' mode, which simultaneously retracted all four windows and the roof at the touch of a button. Then, of course, there were the "double kinematic'" doors. At 1.4 metres in length - yes, seriously - they were twice hinged, once to open conventionally outward and then to fold back on themselves, sitting parallel to the car and allowing access in confined spaces. All of this could be had for just Β£24,050 with a 165hp, 2.0-litre turbo four-pot - which was best left alone - or for Β£27,050 with a 210hp 3.0-litre V6 'Privilege' option, which could be hustled to 62 in just 8.4 seconds.

As we know, none of it was enough to entice buyers from their saloons, but the Avantime did spell the end for one long-running feature of the automotive landscape. The scale of the model's failure was too great for Matra itself which, having been in business since 1964, went under soon after production ended. Its sacrifice needn't have been in vain, though; the Avantime may have gotten too far ahead of itself at launch, but for Β£7,495 perhaps now its time has come.


SPECIFICATION - RENAULT AVANTIME
Engine:
2,946cc, V6
Transmission: 5-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Power (hp): 210@6,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 210@3,750rpm
MPG: N/A
CO2: N/A
Recorded mileage: 74,000
First registered: 2002
Price new: Β£27,050 (Β£44,335 after inflation)
Yours for: Β£7,495

See the full ad here

Author
Discussion

Mr Alternator

Original Poster:

1 posts

4 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
Advert states Renault Clio V6?????

rastapasta

682 posts

93 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
wow what a car. a tour de force in terms of style design and tech,

Shame upon us all for not buying. Except me though as i was too busy fishing my Punto HGT out of a hedge when this was released.

Jokes aside this is a car which will appreciate now I feel.

Deranged Rover

518 posts

29 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
I hate MPVs and I hate Renaults.

It is therefore a huge surprise to me that I have always loved the Avantime and have absolutely no idea why.

The_Nugget

285 posts

12 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
Deranged Rover said:
I hate MPVs and I hate Renaults.

It is therefore a huge surprise to me that I have always loved the Avantime and have absolutely no idea why.
Me too. The dash is gloriously retro and the seats look gorgeous. I prefer them in light blue with silver accents but this one is a beaut.

DaveyBoyWonder

616 posts

129 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
Deranged Rover said:
I hate MPVs and I hate Renaults.

It is therefore a huge surprise to me that I have always loved the Avantime and have absolutely no idea why.
Same. Both hateful things but that is ace!

Maxus

612 posts

136 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
I like that. Good MOT history as well - just tyres and brakes (plus the centre stop light that keeps cropping up as an issue).

Would love a drive of one.

Turbobanana

2,332 posts

156 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
Maxus said:
I like that. Good MOT history as well - just tyres and brakes (plus the centre stop light that keeps cropping up as an issue).

Would love a drive of one.
I reckon you'll be disappointed, as the chassis is that from the Espace of the same vintage. I had one of those, and while it was a great family bus it was far from dynamic.

It's an interesting curio though, one which with the benefit of hindsight was never likely to succeed as the buying public is way too conservative for this sort of stuff.

ate one too

2,046 posts

101 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
Even the undoubted skills of the Top Gear team couldn't make an Avantime go that quickly...


thegreenhell

6,980 posts

174 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
ate one too said:
Even the undoubted skills of the Top Gear team couldn't make an Avantime go that quickly...
They applied F1 technology to make it slower.

aja001

3 posts

116 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
I owned one of these for a couple of years, it was fantastic, like driving around in a leathery conservatory. It was really solidly made surprisingly, with the roof and windows down it was like a convertible and actually handled quite well as the weight is all quite low in the car. People tended to hate it until they went in it.

Turbobanana

2,332 posts

156 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
ate one too said:
Even the undoubted skills of the Top Gear team...
Sorry, what?

blue_haddock

628 posts

22 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
I had one for a couple of weeks as a demo when first launched, i absolutely loved it!

blue_haddock

628 posts

22 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
aja001 said:
with the roof and windows down it was like a convertible
i loved the button to open all the windows and sunroof at the same time!

SVX

2,056 posts

166 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
I have no idea why, or need, but like the C6, its utterly bonkers and I'd love one. In a sea of cars that are appliances in resale silver - this stands out. Though I suspect that a shunt or even something as simple as cracking the pano roof would write it off. Strong money though.

boyse7en

4,218 posts

120 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
SVX said:
I have no idea why, or need, but like the C6, its utterly bonkers and I'd love one. In a sea of cars that are appliances in resale silver - this stands out. Though I suspect that a shunt or even something as simple as cracking the pano roof would write it off. Strong money though.
I did seriously consider buying one of these years ago when they were at rock-bottom prices, but it had a chip in the windscreen and the replacement cost of around £1500 quoted was a bit too rich for what would have been a nice-looking shed.

Edited by boyse7en on Monday 2nd March 15:10

SweptVolume

512 posts

48 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
I'm sure these were £3k not so long ago.

Absolutely loved them in blue, however. A real icon of the time, even if nobody wanted them.

BigChiefmuffinAgain

326 posts

53 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
Like almost everyone it seems, I really loved these and wasted many a long hour thinking "Well, maybe .... "

Anyone know what spare supply is like ? Lots of bespoke stuff and with Matra now out of business, that can often be problematic...

kambites

59,011 posts

176 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
Wonderfully odd-ball creation, but I'm not sure who's going to pay over £7k for one!

pSyCoSiS

2,651 posts

160 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
Very outlandish cars. Something different and rather cool.

For some weird reason, I quite like the Vel Satis!

rockin

7,965 posts

200 months

Monday 2nd March
quotequote all
It's all very Groove Armada,
  • I see you baby, shakin' that ass.
  • If everybody looked the same, we'd get tired of looking at each other.
File alphabetically under "I" - for "Interesting".