The Renault 4 has returned as an off-roader concept
This is the Renault 4EVER Trophy, and it’s here to preview a future, fully electric b-segment SUV
Soon after it revives the Renault 5 as a production electric supermini next year, Renault will also launch a new 4 in 2025. Here's a preview. A pretty outlandish preview, but you can still draw clues.
The Renault 4EVer will be an electric mini crossover. But, we can assume, one that comes without the concept's sand ladders, shovel and adventure rack. They'd be very much surplus to requirements in Surbiton and Cheadle.
Still, the 4EVer Trophy concept is a bit of fun, and at Renault's home Paris show, a bit of fun is just the job. Even the name – 4EVer… 4 EV… see what they did there?
Renault's chief of advanced and concept design Sandeep Bhambra says the concept's pained metal, and the glazing, are "very close" to the production car's. "The design of the production car is almost frozen now." How does he know? Because the advanced and production teams share studios. "This is a teaser."
So the big tyres, the protective lower-body panels, and the racked sand equipment are for fun. Even the air pressure in each chunky tyre can be dropped and raised by a built-in pump, according to the terrain.
All of that cross-country stuff is to mark the 25th anniversary of the Renault 4 Trophy rally, an event that puts used examples of these plucky little cars on a race to deliver school equipment to Morocco.
Now, do you remember the 4? It went out of production nearly 30 years ago, having been launched more than 60 years ago. Besides it was never a huge thing in Britain where we had the Mini, merci beaucoup. But it sold 8 million in all, doing especially well in France, Spain and Africa.
It was conceived as a rural car rival for the Citroen 2CV, but with more space and performance for France's then-nascent autoroute network. Well, I say performance. The last one I drove had the 747cc engine and three-speed gearbox.
The new 4EVER won't be such a cheap'n'cheerful machine. Even though its name makes it sound like it'll sit below the 5, it'll actually be priced higher. "The original 4 was very versatile. This will be too. It's a crossover and bigger than the 5 will be. The 5 is a compact city car. People will understand," says Bhambra.
But Renault insists it'll be good value because the electric platform it sits on, shared with the 5, has been rigorously cost-engineered using more than a decade's experience with the Zoe. The 5, says Renault, will sell for a third less than the Zoe.
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Do you need to remember the original 4 to enjoy the new one? Bhambra says not necessarily. "We didn't do a retro car. It has a retro name, and addresses the same need for versatility and room. There are some visual nods to the 4 – the rear, the shape of the third side window, the screen, the front wings and grille. If you knew the 4 you will recognise it, but if you didn't you'll still say wow and still like it."