Renault SA will debut its new Wind roadster concept at the Geneva Motor Show in March.

The concept provides a glimpse of the possible design direction for a future Renault and could be the forerunner of the sports car project under way at Renault Sport Technologies. (See related story: Sports Division Aims at Lightweight Sports Car)

The Wind is a 2-plus-1 roadster that features a streamlined design. The concept is powered by a 2.0L 4-cyl. gasoline engine, which produces 136 hp and is mated to a 6-speed robotized gearbox.

Renault SA will debut its Wind roadster concept at the Geneva Motor Show.

The Wind’s profile combines the impression of simplicity and consistency, the French auto maker’s design team says. It features two defining styling lines. The first runs along the side of the car and curves into the front and rear wings, while sweeping around the wheel arches. The second line surrounds the cabin.

“The result is a breath of fresh air in the world of roadsters,” says Patrick le Quement, Renault’s senior vice president-corporate design.

Another key styling cue is provided by the headlamps, which extend along the hood and highlight the roadster’s elongated shape. The headlights project a blue-tinted light that stretches across the vertical glass covers.

The windshield on the Wind concept wraps around to the side of the car with a curve that flows into the side windows. The Wind’s power fabric top features a rear glass window.

Renault designers paid careful attention to the interior, where the instrument panel engulfs the driver and front-seat passenger. All of the controls on the interior feature an anodized aluminum finish, which helps to provide a muted appearance. The focal point is a circular, centrally mounted control panel that provides access to a myriad of functions, including communications, music and navigation.

Renault says the roadster has 2+1 seating so that a carbon fiber support for the front seats can be turned inside out and used as a saddle-like third seat.

Other exotic concept-car inspirations include a mixed-function rev-counter speedometer with both needle and digital readouts, and a panel that swings out from the driver's door that hosts the climate controls. The steering wheel and pedals swing out of the way to aid entering and exiting the car.

In most other respects, the concept is a production ready prototype.

In January, Augustin Dachicourt, vice-president-projects at Renault Sport Technologies, told Ward’s that his engineers were working on an affordable, lightweight sports car to compete with the Mazda Miata and Rover MG TF. "Our target is a weight-power ratio of about 5 kg (11 lbs.) per hp," he said.

The Wind weighs 1,874 lbs. (850 kg), and with the base 2L engine would have a ratio of 13.8 lbs. (6.25 kg) per hp, but with Renault Sport Technologies' 182-hp version, as used in the Clio RS, the ratio would be 10.4 lbs. (4.7 kg) per hp, better than Dachicourt's target.

The last unique Renault Sport product was the Renault Spider, a hand-built aluminum roadster, of which 1,730 were made between 1996 and 1999.

kekelly@primediabusiness.com