Renault Avantime - automotive profile

The Avantime is by far the most progressive car designed by Renault in the first 15 years of the 21st century has put into production. This radical design of Patrick Le Quément was wegvoorbereider for the new style of Renault for the first decade: round, organic shapes, the brand to straight lines, horizontal, running vertically or diagonally, made possible by the more complex forms in plastic material, but could also be realized in steel. The differences between the original concept car and the production model are surprisingly small, making the Avantime has a unique and striking futuristic appearance. Many find the car ugly, others find him brilliant. A history of a particular car.
  • History: from idea to concept
  • History: the concept car
  • History: from concept to production
  • The production model: engine & transmission
  • The production model: the colors
  • The production model: the wheels
  • The name
  • Production & sales
  • TopGear
  • The Avantime now

History: from idea to concept

Prior to the Avantime was the radical new style of Patrick Le Quément already alive in the Initiale prototype in 1995, which later evolved considerably, yet very recognizable, like the production model Vel Satis would come back, and in the Vel Satis prototype from 1998, that the very much resembles the Avantime. The Koleos 1999 has many traits of the Avantime - and the 2003 Mégane.
The idea of ​​the Avantime joined Philippe Guédon Matra from. He believed that people of their space vehicles would have grown to love, and that this type of car they also wanted to keep driving, after the children had left home. It was time for a space vehicle which was not designed to maximize seating and luggage space, but would still offer generous space, with a smaller number of passengers and their luggage, and the slightly higher driving position, comfort and luxury of an MPV would provide.
Matra built since 1984 for the Renault Espace. It therefore went without saying that Renault, to develop this idea into the Avantime, preferably the Espace wanted to use as a base. That car was his former generation in 1997 came on the market two years later and could well serve as a basis for a new model. Remarkably - and relatively unknown - is that there is a formal agreement between Renault and Matra was to develop the Avantime. Although it seems as though a highly acclaimed prototype was decided to create a production version, which is not true. It already was clear since 1998 that Matra would develop this car for Renault.

History: the concept car

A Avantime with all windows opened once at the Geneva Motor Show, the audience was enthusiastic about the Avantime. Renault presented the car as an MPV coupe, a car without a separate front-middle-back, yet with slightly sporty styling of a coupe with two doors, where style is going to function.
In order to give access to the rear seats, the doors were very long. This would protrude very far when they were open. With doors of two meters and a car that is much narrower, a Avantime gets a "span" of more than five meters ... In other words, if you the door of a Avantime 25 degrees open turns, the car is there for approximately 90 cm broader. That much is problematic. On the prototype was chosen to provide the doors of a kind of double hinge, which worked fine. Thanks to its unique construction took to open the doors in less space. Moreover, the doors could be opened so in a theatrical way, what the concept car made even more cachet.
The overall design was under the responsibility of Le Quément established, with Thierry Metroz as project design. He explained about the concept car, that these people had amazing, from all angles. The glass roof was open and the windows, making the Avantime, though not convertible, it became a kind of "open-air car". This Grand air mode would also go into production. The Avantime does not have a B-pillar, - the name for the vertical connection between the roof and the lower part of the body below the window line. With the windows open it gave a big open space. By then open the glass roof would create the Grand Air mode, a near-convertible experience. It is unclear, however, whether the glass roof of the prototype could actually open.
A B-pillar is of course necessary to have a car more strength - in the jargon stiffness - giving. Now there was not incorporated into the design, the A-pillar was split, such as MPVs was often done. By a double-design A-pillar having therebetween a triangular window pane, for the beauty of the design, but also for vision and for more light in the car, the front side of the roof was well supported.
The C-pillar is the first - and for many cars, including the Avantime, only - connection between the roof and underside of the body that comes after the compartment of the rear passengers. At Avantime was which, because of the lack of B-pillar are particularly stable, so the team chose to make a special design feature of the C-pillar. That it was too: together with the eaves of the C-pillar was made of aluminum, matt without further decoration. But that ended with a diagonal line that divided in two C-pillar, including the C-pillar was executed in red paint on the rest of the car. Thus emphasizes the wedge shape of the car in a place where it was not at all wedge SAT. A particular detail, so it is added for aesthetic reasons. If you look closely, see a bulge at the top of the C-pillar, which is more rigid, but also aesthetically just adds something to the whole.
The front of the Avantime concept car aroused some surprise. The smooth running of front bumper to the roof was not unexpected; This design feature of the Espace was even logical, because if there was a clear link between the two large MPVs Renault. However, above the headlights mounted Renault triangular grids, which form a kind of design-based unit having the headlights. Not often exhibited and very special.
The back is quite startling. Le Quément brought a discovery that would also be placed on the next Renault Megane here. The rear ran vertically from top to bottom, in which the curved rear window was leading in the mold. It reminds one of a kind portal of a building. Since the back was then again, below the rear window, a sort of sloping stern, of which the shape dictated by the shape of the rear lights. This created a larger luggage, longer crumple zone at the back, and a remarkable design statement. At the Avantime proto both rear lights were divided into two clusters, which were organic in shape and only the tip touched each other.
The interior of the Avantime concept car has four individual seats, done in cream leather. The front seats were equipped with screens in the back, for entertainment of the rear seat passengers. A long center console offered the passengers and the rear armrest. The dashboard, although clearly that the then Espace based, had some futuristic features, but later still be largely taken over in the final car. The steering wheel and gear however: these samples were more extravagant interior.

History: from concept to production

Some elements of the prototype were clearly not feasible for the production version. The outlet mouths, to the futuristic dashboard and steering wheel: a step too far. But the front would be practically unchanged, and Renault and Matra undertook, also maintain the special door construction.
This soon proved to be a problem, so the market introduction of the Avantime and deliveries of the cars were delayed considerably. The special hinge on a somewhat cost-effective and safe way in the car application turned out to be a problem. The doors were, in relation to the requirements of crash tests to protect against side impacts, much heavier, which the new hinges substantially burdened. Eventually it was decided to still maintain the invented construction, but badly executed. The door of the production model opens so 'dubbelgescharnierd'; the door is hinged to a large hinge, which is articulated to the vehicle body again, at the level of the A-pillar. The construction was so ingenious, that there is nothing outside of you were; Renault had been afraid, really have to let the door 'nod', a cheaper solution, but not beautiful.
If real Matra product was largely the body of plastic material, although there are a lot of subcutaneous steel was used to provide a safe vehicle with a good handling. The roof was largely of aluminum, which is also the core of the Avantime brought smaller, the car still is considerably better on the road was a similar Espace.
The Grand Air mode came, as promised, returned. This was something special, but certainly not the greatest technical achievement of the Matra engineers. Grand Air stand, all four windows of the Avantime down; the two door windows and the two windows behind it. Because between these windows there is no B-pillar, this provides a big hole: wonderfully airy! Of the large glass roof could the portion above the front seat occupants as well are opened, so that the position Grand Air was complete. The most special was that all this could be achieved with a single button; not the most complicated technical invention, but useful and original. This button incidentally is in the console beside the rearview mirror, where the roof can be operated separately.
The taillights cluster of productiemodelDe lighting was slightly different from the prototype. Instead of the organic forms of the original, the taillights were slightly angular. The rear light clusters also shared in two layers now as more diamond jewelry on the rear side. The lower, larger cluster houses the main lamps, including the brake lights at the bottom-inside. The huge tailgate was maintained, which made for easy access to the luggage compartment. At the top of a large third brake light was placed.
Front futuristic projection lamps were replaced, but every Avantime would get Xenon headlights, which nevertheless was reserved for luxury cars. Another adaptation to the front of the car was the double A-pillar. The prototype was the "second A-pillar" just been a thin line. Just get all because of the stiffness and handling the production model had a thicker style. For crash safety would strengthen this much help. Finally, it was even those special door construction as: the very heavy doors and hinges would threaten to deform the body, which could be absorbed by the wider posterior A-pillar. And so, the glass pane was slightly smaller and the rear part of the A-pillar has been a lot wider. Maybe a little less beautiful, perhaps less good for the outside view, but essential for a production car.
Although Renault could have chosen to also add all-wheel drive and four wheel steering on even the Avantime fit - both technologies were at home or in development, this was not done. The already heavy car would go through consume, although the handling there tighter and safer would be. However, the main reason to add too much advanced technologies in the Avantime passes were the cost: it would make it likely lossy car even more expensive to develop and produce.
The two individual rear seats were in production yet replaced by a three-person bench, which was however clear for the two outboard passengers optimized. In the higher trim levels, this was really designed as two places at Expression versions were there before three. So for five persons should you actually choose a base modelletje!
As in the Espace is a lot of storage space. Even found under the optional navigation screen is a storage compartment. The boot, though less regular shape than in the Espace is regal: 530 liters. Competitive coupes and sedans get such volumes.
The final production version of the Renault Avantime has the following sizes:

The production model: engine & transmission

The Avantime is supplied with three different engines. Sometimes second-hand copies to be presented with a "2.0 16V" description, but this characterization is really incomplete because these cars have a Turbo - although it might be worthwhile to ask if that still does on these copies. Why else omit this part of the description?
The six-cylinder version was first available, and is also sold well. Who had money for a Avantime, would seem like the most comfortable drive version. The V6 is adumbrated "V6 3.0 24V", but is strictly a 2.9 liter engine with 2946cc. This engine has been designed jointly by PSA and Renault and is therefore found in many different cars. These include the Renault Laguna, Espace, Clio V6 RS, Safrane, the Peugeot 406, 407, 605, 607 and 807 and the Citroën XM, Xantia, C5, C6 and C8. There are - apart from the special Renault Clio V6 - actually only been two versions of this engine: a 194 hp / 142 kW version and the upgraded version of it in 2000 with 207 hp / 152 kW. The Avantime has the 207 hp version. Because Renault entered into a close relationship with Nissan, it was decided that engine no longer be included in new Renault models. The 2.9 liter engine did not return in the new Vel Satis and Espace. Instead, those cars were even stronger 3.5L V6 from Nissan, with about 235 hp. The torque of the 2.9-liter engine in the Avantime is 285 nm at 3750 rpm, providing ample pulling power, even though the limit is only achieved at a relatively high speed.
The Avantime V6 initially had the six-speed manual that would also get the other Avantimes but directly Renault also announced a comfortable and sophisticated machine on. The five-speed automatic, however, also proved to have some start-up problems, making it only became available in the course of 2002. Both gearboxes are solid and comfortable. Because of the very long poker switching in an Avantime does not feel sporty to. The first association with a long gear lever with a truck or bus ... With the manual transmission, the V6 was however the fastest version. In 8.6 seconds could reach 100 km / h are achieved, and the top speed was 220 km / h. When the vending machine, these figures are, respectively, 9.2 seconds and 215 km / h.
Avantimes V6 engine with a variable power steering, causing the steering will be quieter at higher speeds. The other engine variants have a simpler power steering, which is completely dependent on the speed. However, the experiences of many people with such power steering variations, it matters very little. Especially with comfort-tuned cars like the Avantime is remarkably little difference and is the "feedback" that the wheel does give quite limited; there is not much steering feel. Why then Renault is choosing to apply this model in two different power steering systems, will probably remain a mystery. In retrospect, it was probably cheaper to give even the basic models the speed dependent device.
165 2.0T
This engine, also used in the second generation Mégane, Espace and Laguna, was a relatively simple four-cylinder engine with dual overhead camshaft and a relatively 'soft' set turbo. Therefore, this engine was very smooth, as evidenced by the torque is 250 nm and is reached at 2000 rpm. The power was in the name: 165 hp / 120 kW. Thus, the Avantime came from zero to 100 km / h in 9.7 seconds and reached a top speed of up to 202 km / h. The machine came to this version is not available, so it was always a manual version.
2.2dCi 16V
The advanced diesel engine for the Avantime was one of the flagships of Renault. By the use of common-rail and multi-valves techniques for that time, it was a very strong diesel engine, which was utterly smooth by a high torque of 320 nm and the application of the six-speed transmission. However, over the course of a diesel engine was less beautiful than the V6, and the peak power of 150 hp / 110 kW was lower, especially at higher speeds and with the sprint from a standstill was discernible. With a time of 11.4 seconds, the diesel was last at 100 km / h and top speed of 195 km / h was the lowest.

The production model: the colors

In a design icon colors are important. In all Avantimes was the roof of glass and this was bordered with matt aluminum. Bumpers and bumpers were always keyed in color.
The available exterior colors of the Avantime were:
  • Vert Scarabée
  • Vert Taïga
  • Bleu Iliad
  • Bleu Methyl
  • Bleu tibetain
  • Noir Nocturne
  • Noir Nacré Doré
  • Gris Acier
  • Gris Pluton
  • Gris Sirius
  • Rouge de Mars
  • Steppe

The interior of a British Renault AvantimeOok the interior was in different colors. The Avantime offered, at an additional charge, special interior features. The dashboard was implemented standard in cream color, also with dark trim species. Who chose Exception Pack 1 was leather-covered doors and the dashboard was covered in leather. Could hereby be chosen from some of the colors there. The headliner of the car was then executed in light gray and the trim strips in aluminum color.
Pack Exception2 is even more special. It was exceptional in this package that the color leather on the dashboard also came back into the seats. The chairs were conducted in this package with black leather, but the seat and back sections were performed in the same color as the leather dashboard. The leather steering wheel was then conducted in two colors: top and bottom of the steering circle were the same color as the dashboard.
The color combinations of these optional packages were identical in both, as follows:
  • Pack Exception 1:
  • Amazon Green
  • Ash Grey
  • Inca Red
  • Lava Grey
  • Nautical Blue
  • Pearl Grey
  • Pack Exception 2:
  • Amazon Green
  • Ash Grey
  • Inca Red
  • Lava Grey
  • Nautical Blue
  • Pearl Grey

The production model: the wheels

The wheels of the original prototype were used as inspiration for the final Rhodes wheel that was 17 inches wide. The optional on all models Olympia model was 18 inches tall and seemed strongly to this. The Cythère wheels of 16 inches was the standard wheel. Sometimes you see sometimes a Avantime on steel wheels, whether or not with a neat hubcap. That almost always the winter. The Helios versions were 16-inch rims with Eridan, which are also lots delivered under the Espace.
The production model: equipment levels
Next was the subsequent action model Helios there are three trim levels on the Avantime. The entry-level Expression is virtually sold in the Netherlands. Some important items of equipment of these levels follow.
  • Manual air conditioning
  • Cloth upholstery
  • Leather steering wheel, shift knob
  • Partly power driver's seat
  • Advanced audio system
  • Xenon Headlights
  • Front fog lights
  • cruise control
  • ESP
  • Side and head airbags
  • Two Isofix mountings behind

If the Expression, but with:
  • Grand Air
  • Electronic air conditioning
  • Half Leather Seats
  • Center rear armrest
  • Carbon trim on dashboard
  • Electrically folding exterior mirrors
If the Dynamique, but with:
  • Colored aluminum instead of carbon trim on dashboard
  • Leather furnishing
  • Expanded electric seat adjustment, including heating, for both front seats
  • Carminat Navigation with centrally positioned display and remote control
  • CD Changer
  • Rhodes 17 inch rims
  • Park Assist Rear
  • Auto dimming rearview mirror
  • Rain Sensor

Action Model Hélios
If the Expression, but with:
  • Grand Air
  • Eridan wheels 16 inch
  • Two-tone beige-black leather steering wheel
  • Dual chrome exhaust

The name

Avantime is a very ugly word for language purists: it is a combination of French and English, both in their structure, and in terms of judgment. "Avant" is pronounced the French way, and means "for" or "forward". "Time" is again English. Renault took this car so ahead of its time. That appeared to find buyers, because there were not that many.
So, do not attempt to pronounce the whole name on his English or French, it is an unfortunate mixture of both.

Handling and use

The Avantime was a very comfortable car, with good handling for an MPV. Yet it was not the sports car among MPVs - Fiat Multipla or Mazda Premacy was actually more of a bend knight, but those cars offered much less comfort and were in all other respects of a lower class.
The moderate inhibiting the Avantime make it a little dangerous to drive sports car. Something the lords of TopGear also had attention. As the brakes were fading fast at present, the braking distance was longer.
The Renault Avantime is another no-efficient car. The high weight and the large frontal surface ensure that the petrol versions, one in 10 is difficult to achieve, although certainly with the 2.0 T is not impossible. Through much of the 6th gear to use is to use still somewhat pressing, but especially in city traffic is an Avantime downright inefficient.
Practicality is a Avantime well: compared to other MPV is a model with a few disadvantages, but as a kind of high sedan / hatchback car is doing fine. In some ways even better than the five-door Renault Vel Satis.
The rear of the Avantime with roof racks

Production & sales

The Avantime was not a sales success. Matra and Renault hoped so, but they sold more than 8,500 cars in about two years time. These were mainly luxury models, the entry-level Expression, for example, a fixed glass roof is hardly sold. If you went for a Avantime, then you went for real, so were especially Dynamiques and Privilèges sold.
New Espace Renault decided not to develop leave Matra, but went this volume car itself from the ground up, thus saying goodbye to the plastic body in favor of steel. Staal was in the nineties and later become ever lighter and stronger, so that the profit that could be increasingly diminished booked with plastic weight. Thus disappeared the largest turnover of Matra, which also received no indication that another vehicle could be produced from them, neither Renault nor by another.
Matra therefore decided to close before it would go bankrupt. Another factory for plastic cars were not readily available, thus producing the Avantime ended with the closure of Matra factory. The cause was not so much the low or disappointing sales of the Avantime, but more that you to produce just the Avantime no factory could be kept open.
Renault was not so bad; by delays, small numbers and the fact that Matra also had to make the Avantime was not a profit maker. However, it was the desired "halo car was a car that the brand image positively influenced and who was a pioneer of what would come. In addition, the latest Espace drove better and harder than the Avantime, and were there for that car now even more advanced options are available. Renault was also on its way only to build ultra-safe cars, and the Avantime, although safe, would not achieve maximum scores in a crash. Finally, the Avantime would by its very short production period even more special; Renault had left the car five years in production, then he would not have been so rare and striking more.


As one of only a handful of cars Renault Avantime bore the approval path of all three presenters of the BBC TopGear program. Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May were all excited about the car, because of the non-conformism, and because the car were both beautiful and luxurious as successful. The car was also declared a Sub Zero, the category of exceptionally cool cars, but was eventually removed from the wall when the car went out of production.
A Dutch magazine advertisement for the Renault AvantimeToch assaulted Messrs an Avantime, in season 12, episode 3. They got a Challenge to the Avantime to build a racing car, which had to be faster than a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo. Without adjustments was an Avantime 14 seconds per lap slower than the car, so there had to be made. Before they started modifying the truck, the men gave a tribute to the Avantime, which, without skipping disadvantages, lit a big feather in the graceful rear of the model.
Then came the changes - including larger wheels with better brakes. Then the bank and other heavy elements were out, and the heavy electric chairs were replaced with race tubs. Eventually even had the glass roof it believe that was replaced with Plexiglas. The engine was reduced as much as possible in original factory condition - it had in the few years that the car drove did have a lot of horsepower lost. Furthermore, they did something with wooden front spoilers and a large rear wing ...
It was not a great success and the Avantime was mainly uglier from there, but the car has never been so long and extensively in image, yet came out with his reputation intact from the program: Clarkson, May and Hammond were then still very excited about the Avantime.

The Avantime now

Since about 2013 the prices of second Avantime specimens are again on the rise. This car has become a young timer, a classic car that is popular with car enthusiasts. Within ten years after termination of production is quite an achievement, and a testament to the stature of this car. Drivers demonstrate like the Grand Air mode to their passengers, to be the showstopper of this car.
Unfortunately, the Avantime is his time not only good come through. Matters such as the navigation system is now hopelessly out of date, but importantly, the Avantime longer term weakness is going to show. Parts are of course very expensive and difficult to obtain, unless they are identical to a similar Espace and Laguna part. But now it appeared that the interior sometimes wear at odd places, like the chairs. The wheels often run in the wheel arches, which is actually a ontwerpfoout is. Also rust occurs, and the aluminum roof sections are unfortunately not always very good against weather and wind resistant and damaged. Also electronic problems Renaults from that time are not unusual, and the Avantime has the same as the comparable Espace.
The engines are strong in terms of durability, but prone to maintenance. Turbos at the 2.0 petrol and 2.2 diesel can go natural piece - which applies to all cars with turbo. Because it is both motors which are in very many Renault have been used, the replacement of a Turbo is rather expensive due to the development cost of the engine, then by the cost of the parts. If there needs to be worked at a Avantime seriously the engine or transmission, the cost of the development of those parts are high. There are simply a lot of man hours in such jobs. The V6 is also very reliable, but tends to pollution, especially in relaxed drivers who rarely made the horsepower really awake. Thus, the engine is idle, less efficient in terms of combustion and decreases power. Proper maintenance and occasionally give good gas are therefore recommended.
Is it therefore a bad car? Certainly not, and raises an Avantime at the owner often so much love, that defects will be corrected and the life of the car is stretched. So it is an expensive car in the maintenance, but proper maintenance and preventive action will ensure that there continue to drive around as much as possible Avantimes. That deserves this design statement as well.
Comments (2)

Thanks for beautiful and complete article. My Avantime 2.0 16V Turbo is now over 12 years old and has 150k on the clock. The maintenance costs and number of the Avantime Turbo consumption are significantly lower than the V6 versions. Also, the quality of the subsequent Avantimes is better visible. I then purchased the Avantime 3rd car and I'm still not tired of it. It is also true that the Avantime is gaining appreciation of his surroundings. This summer on Texel had nice comments on the Avantime and also addressed last Saturday in the parking lot of the Hockeyclub about my special Avantime. Not bad for a car that was presented in Geneva in 1999 ??


The above text exactly right, not a word of French bij.Wij have the Avantime V6 privilege now 9 years and it remains a great car to drive, it's every time a party. The costs are quite low, I am now at about 700 ?? per year. But I keep him therefore in top condition, many parts replaced preventively. We ourselves have been run 70.000km. The counter is now 205.000km.Het still fun to see all those people and almost getting a stiff neck if we are to come. There is more. More appreciation for Avantime.Groet, Wim de Vries.