Renault Avantime

The Renault Avantime is a grand tourer[3] marketed by the French manufacturer Renault, designed and manufactured by Matra,[4] between 2001 and 2003. As a one-box design without B-pillars, styled by Patrick Le Quément, the Avantime combined the design elements of an MPV, estate or shooting brake with the style of a 2+2 coupé and elements of a convertible.

Renault Avantime
2002 Renault Avantime Privilege 3.0 Front.jpg
Production2001–2003 (8,557 units)[1]
AssemblyFrance: Romorantin-Lanthenay (Matra)
DesignerPatrick Le Quément[2]
Body and chassis
ClassMinivan (S)
Body style3-door shooting-brake
LayoutFront-engine, front-wheel-drive
RelatedRenault Espace
Renault Megane
Transmission6-speed manual
5-speed automatic
Wheelbase2,702 mm (106.4 in)
Length4,642 mm (182.8 in)
Width1,834 mm (72.2 in)
Height1,627 mm (64.1 in)

The name "Avantime" is a portmanteau of the French word "Avant" (meaning "ahead") and the English word "time" — with the latter using the English /taɪm/ rather than French pronunciation /tiːm/.

Conception and designEdit

Rear view
The Renault Avantime offers a "grand air" mode, where one button opens all windows and the sunroof.
Range of Renault Avantimes
Renault Avantime space frame

The Avantime was designed and developed in-house by Renault affiliate Matra and was conceived by Philippe Guédon, head of the automotive division at Matra, who "believed that the children of Espace owners remained loyal to the car even after they had grown up and left home. As a result, the renowned estate was gaining a generation of new drivers."

Styled by Patrick Le Quément, the Avantime was intended to combine the space of an estate with the four place pillarless qualities of a coupé.[4] Regarding the styling, Thierry Metroz, design project manager, said, "We wanted someone walking around the car to be continually astonished." Anthony Grade, Renault's vice-president of design said, "The exterior and interior had to be coherent. Using the Espace as a base, for instance, meant we had the central instrument display, but that‘s part of the innovative character of the whole vehicle".[5] Car magazine described the interior as architectural and luxurious.[6] The one-box design eliminated B-pillars and featured an aluminium structure, aluminium panels for the greenhouse and a full sunroof of strengthened heat-reflecting glass.[7] The interior featured four seats, each with built in seatbelts, and leather from Bridge of Weir.[7]

To facilitate access to the rear seats, two long doors featured a double parallel opening hinge system (marketed as "double kinematic") that maximized access and minimized the door outswing.[8] Front side windows lowered automatically when either of the front seats folded forward to further facilitate entry to the rear two seats.[7] Windows featured power deployable sunshades,[9] and the H-points of the rear two seats were higher than the forward two seats, giving the Avantime "theater seating."[10] The luggage compartment featured a retaining system using retractable straps,[7] and all Avantimes featured a two-tone look created by the exposed aluminium of the greenhouse. The windows and panoramic sunroof could open automatically via a single headliner-mounted control,[9] to give the Avantime an 'open air' mode.

The design borrowed the automotive space frame of the first generation Renault Espace (load bearing galvanized structure with non-load bearing composite panels) and used Renault's 24 valve, 207 hp (152 kW) 3.0L V6 engine, which was coupled to a six-speed manual transmission or five-speed automatic transmission.

Launch and receptionEdit

The Avantime was first shown in February 1999, in concept form at a press launch in the Louvre, and one month later to the public at the Geneva Auto Show — where it was referred to as a "Coupéspace"[4] — and went into production two years later, after the subsequent engineering of the pillarless roof to meet safety standards. The Avantime's sales were poor.[11] The car's fortunes were not helped by the introduction of the Renault Vel Satis (another large, upmarket Renault) around 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),[11] Renault chose to discontinue the Avantime rather than move its production elsewhere. 8,557 were built from 2001 to 2003,[12] a figure that makes it one of the worst-selling cars of all time.[13] In 2002, Automobile Magazine said "Le Quement is clearly an outside the box thinker, and the product of his vision is a fascinating exercise, but American buyers' utilitarian expectations of the one box shape just don't jibe with the decadence and frivolity of a grand touring coupe."[9]

In November 2008, the Avantime was featured on the British motoring show Top Gear, where the presenters modified the performance of a used Avantime, attempting to lap the test track faster than a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. The Avantime was recognized as one of the few cars that all three presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May liked, along with the Ford Mondeo and Subaru Legacy.[14]

European Sales[15]Edit

Year Total
2001 772
2002 5,037
2003 2,226
2004 48
Total: 8,083


  1. ^ "Histoire de l'Avantime". Amicale Avantime, archived on 2010-10-29.
  2. ^ "Patrick le Quément". Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Celebrating 10 years of Renault's design classic - Avantime". Renault UK. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  4. ^ a b c "Renault: AVANTIME "Coupéspace""., 5 February 1999. As the dawn of the new millennium lights the sky ahead, Renault, in partnership with Matra Automobile, has opted to develop a coupé of ground breaking design. This "Coupéspace", revealed in the lines of the AVANTIME concept car at the forthcoming Geneva Show, fuses the thrill and passion of a GT coupé with the unique quality of life on board a monospace.
  5. ^ Paul Horrell, Car, January 2000, pp 80-84.
  6. ^ Paul Horrell, Car, January 2000, page 82.
  7. ^ a b c d "Renault Avantime".
  8. ^ "Renault Avantime: A Bold Concept".
  9. ^ a b c "REVIEWS: 2002 Renault Avantime". Automobile Magazine, April, 2009, Matthew Phenix.
  10. ^ "Renault Avantime: Car News". Car and Driver, Ray Hutton, February 2002. Archived from the original on 18 January 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Renault Avantime (02-03) - Review". Parkers, Review Date: 1 August 2007.
  12. ^ "Histoire". (in French). Archived from the original on 4 March 2007.
  13. ^ Petrány, Máté (17 February 2014). "The Ten Worst Selling Cars Of All Time". Jalopnik. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
  14. ^ Top Gear, Series 12 Episode 3. 16 November 2008
  15. ^ "Renault Avantime Europe Sales Figures"