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Renault Wind Roadster 1.6 VVT 133 Dynamique S road test report

1.6 VVT 133 Dynamique S

Based on the Renault Clio II, the new Wind is a 2-seater with a clever, rotating convertible hard-top developed by the firm responsible for the roof of the limited-edition Ferrari 575 Superamerica. Exotic indeed, but can this baby roadster be likened to a supercar in other ways?

Road Test Reports Says3 star rating
A front-facing image of the Renault Wind Roadster

Image number 2 of the Renault Wind RoadsterImage number 3 of the Renault Wind RoadsterImage number 4 of the Renault Wind Roadster

Performance Performance - 3 stars

The Wind comes with a choice of two engines: a 100hp 1.2 petrol or a 133hp 1.6 VVT petrol, both with 5-sp manual transmissions. Developed by the French firm’s sporting wing Renault Sport Technologies, the latter puts out 160NM (118lb/ft) of torque. This is the same engine as fitted to the Twingo Renaultsport, and, although there’s ample performance, acceleration isn’t exactly breathtaking. When pushed the motor sounds a little strained, and although I didn’t actually miss any gears, the gearshift action is by today’s standards a little rubbery and imprecise. The quoted figures for the 1.6 are 0-62 in 9.2 secs with a 125mph top speed.

Ride & Handling Ride & Handling - 3 stars

The Wind rides serenely on a well-surfaced road, but on not so well-maintained rural B-roads its ride errs on the choppy side. It’s never uncomfortable as such, but you might get the impression that a little more time spent fine-tuning the suspension could well have improved things. This slight choppiness is exacerbated by slight but visible movement in the cabin – scuttle-shake is the old fashioned term for it – and if you hit a bad bump you can detect movement in the steering column and, consequently, at the wheel. Otherwise the Wind handles and steers predictably with body-roll kept in check and the onset of understeer handled by Renault’s CSV understeer control system.

Build Quality & Reliability Build Quality & Reliability - 2 stars

As mentioned above, the Wind can display traces of scuttle shake, which though not a problem in itself doesn’t inspire confidence in any car’s long-term longevity. Although the car’s stylists have worked hard on the Wind’s ‘distinctive’ exterior and interior design (eg. the gloss black plastic shroud over the instrument binnacle that annoyingly bounces light onto the windscreen), much of the fit and finish, and the quality and feel of the plastics and trim, appear to have been built to a budget rather than to a standard. Scoring 771 points out of 900, Renault finished 22nd out of 27 manufacturers in the 2010 JD Power Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study.

Safety & Security Safety & Security - 4 stars

The Wind hasn’t yet been subjected to Euro NCAP crash testing, but the 2007 model Twingo, on which the Wind is based, scored 4 out of 5 stars. It’s reasonably safe to assume the Wind would fare no worse. With the roof down, occupants are protected by fixed rollover hoop, while standard safety equipment on top spec Dynamique S includes: ABS with EBD, Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Control, Renault’s Restraint and Protection System and four airbags. Security is handled by remote central locking with deadlocks and automatic door locking, an electronic immobiliser plus a category 1 Thatcham-approved alarm.

Space & Practicality Space & Practicality - 3 stars

Despite its mid- or rear-engined appearance, the 2-seater Wind’s engine (like the Twingo’s) is actually in the front. This allows for a large, if not a particularly deep 270-litre boot area that is unaffected by whether the powered, rotating hard-top roof is up or down – a procedure that takes just 12 secs. Though 270-litres doesn’t sound huge, there’s more than enough space for two people’s luggage or the weekly supermarket shop. Interior room isn’t quite so generous as there’s effectively no stowage behind the seats, the glovebox and door pockets are small, the seats are also quite small and, for those with big feet, the pedals are closely spaced.

Ownership & Value Ownership & Value - 3 stars

The Wind range starts at £15,500, with the 1.6 Dynamic S coming in at £17,300 OTR, (or £18,250 with heated leather seats and metallic paint). Other equipment includes a trip computer, auto headlamps and wipers, climate control, cruise control, a single CD/Mp3 audio system (with USB and mini jack input) and Bluetooth connectivity. Combined fuel consumption for the model tested is 40.3mpg with CO2 at 165g/km (VED band G), Benefit in Kind at 21% and a 29E insurance grouping. Subjectively, the Wind is an odd-looking car from any angle and despite its price it has something of a budget feel to it. It’s not an outstanding driving machine either, and just £200 more would secure a top-of-the-range,140hp Fiat Abarth 500C...

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