Although not set for its public debut until the Paris Auto Show in October, Renault has just taken the wraps off of its new DeZir Concept. Pronounced "desire" and directly referencing Renault's zero-emission "Z.E." signature -- this electric-powered two-seater is the first to display the automaker's nascent "Drive the Change" styling language that was created by its new design chief, Laurens van den Acker. In addition to its various mechanical innovations, Renault says the DeZir's new front-end identity "explores Renault's styling roots to express the company's powerful human dimension" using the notion of the 'life cycle'," and presages cues destined to be incorporated into all future models.

Emotion in motion

The DeZir's sleek (0.25 cd) and light Kevlar bodywork wraps around a tubular steel frame that helps keep curb weight to a mere 830 kg (1,830 lb). Access to the coupe's futuristic-looking cabin is by gullwing doors that pivot in opposite directions, a flourish that "symbolizes a ying and yang-style amorous harmony," albeit one we suspect won't be found on any future production variant. Renault says the linear styling of the front air intake and the rear-end treatment not only add visual impact but help to more efficiently channel battery-cooling air from the front to the rear of the car. Adding even more interest is an array of "ripple-effect look" graphic accent panels. Particularly striking are the cross-drilled aluminum bands that dominate its flanks. Impressively complementing that overall flair -- and nicely filling the DeZir's prominently arched fenderwells -- are 21-inch alloy wheels wrapped in custom 235/45 Michelin tires.

Motivation for the Renault DeZir Concept comes from the same electric motor/generator used in other Renault production EVs, although here its output has been upped to 148-horsepower and 167 lb-ft of torque, which is sufficient to take the DeZir from 0-62 mpg in 5.0 seconds. Located in a mid-rear position to optimize weight distribution, it's energized by a 24kW lithium-ion battery mounted vertically behind the seat. The battery gives the DeZir about a 100-mile basic range and can be fully recharged overnight using conventional household current, take an 80-percent refill in about 20 minute using a dedicated quick-charger or be exchanged in a couple of minutes using Renault's Quick Drop technology.

Given Renault's involvement in Formula One, its no surprise to find that the DeZir's regenerative braking system employs the same principles as the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) the automaker developed for use there -- including the ability to released stored energy for a temporary power boost at the touch of a button on the steering wheel.

The look of love

Inside, the Renault DeZir intentionally gives new meaning to the term "passion pit," as its designers freely admit that its inspiration came "directly from the idea of an amorous encounter based on a coming together of opposites." To formalize "the sensation of shared passion and lightness," its organically contoured white leather bench seat melds a number of interlocking design elements to create a pattern that's smooth on the driver's side but quilted on the passenger's segment. That contra-style motif also carries to the car's left and right door and dash panels, which are finished in red lacquer and white hide, respectively.

While Renault indicates that the DeZir is not destined for production in its current form, it will be interesting to see exactly how many of its specific design elements ultimately do make their way into future products from the French automaker.

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