The Geneva Motor Show sees the unveiling of a new concept of luxury car - the final production version of the Renault Vel Satis creates a roomier, taller luxury car, and expresses Renault's ambition at the top of the range.
However prestigious it may be, the shape of a top-of-the-range car is not set in stone, and Renault challenges this stereotype, with a profile that at first appears unusual, but which grows more familiar and natural the more you see it. From the striking split radiator grille with its more evident logo in a body color panel to its compact stern and its wrap-around rear window and upright C-pillar, the profile it offers is highly individual, taut and clean.
Vel Satis also inherits the legacy of the Renault concepts Initiale (1995) and Vel Satis (1998), two studies for a top-of-the-range car, Renault-style. The vertical lamp theme of the Initiale and VelSatis have grown wider, and the rear of the car is not as dramatic as either of the concept cars, but the VelSatis does inherit the overall character and clean surfaces of these earlier concepts.
As on Laguna II, the Renault Card replaces the traditional key. Once inside the vehicle, new high-comfort seats made up of three elements, welcome the driver and front passenger.
The driver inserts the card into the reader, presses the start/stop button and sets off straightaway without giving a second thought to the handbrake. This is made possible by a new, innovative feature - an automatic parking brake which has completely replaced the traditional handbrake. Entirely automatic, the brake is disengaged when the engine is switched on and locks again when it is next switched off.
Incorporated into the dashboard, along with its wide-angle colour screen, Carminat and its GPS navigation system takes account of traffic information broadcast by the network of FM stations and gives users the possibility of taking an alternative route by keeping them updated - in real time - as to the state of traffic on the roads.
In spite of the dominance of traditional saloons in the top-of-the-range segment, the recent success of MPVs, off-roaders and sports Estate cars prove that there is scope for a different product offer. Alongside the traditional three-box saloon customers, new nonconformist customer bases are developing on the major European markets which are mature and comprise a number of different types of car.
Compared with the average for the segment its dimensions are generous. Indeed, with a wheelbase of 284 cm, it offers exceptional interior space. In addition, the increased seat height - 10cm more than Safrane - guarantees greater visibility and ease of access.
Vel Satis dimensions:
Wheelbase: 2,840 mm
Overall length:4,860 mm
Overall width:1,860 mm
Unladen height:1,577 mm