The Renault Wind Gordini, dinky but in a good way
- 01 November 2011
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The Renault Wind is the French manufacturer’s entry into a segment that does not really exist anymore. Back before the boom went bust it seemed that everybody was doing a hard-topconvertible version of the city-car or supermini with Opel, Peugeot and even Nissan offering a ‘coupe/cabriolet’. According to the latest figures available from SIMI the Wind’s closest rival, the two seater Opel Tigra, sold a barely imperceptible twenty one cars since the start of the year. That is still three ahead of the little French fancy though.
On paper the Wind actually has a lot going for it; developed by the experts at RenaultSport it uses as its basis the sublime Twingo RS, a car that can carve up a the curvy bits better than Katie Price’s plastic surgeon. While it’s looks do appear to have divided opinions in my circle of friends with one (elder gentleman) describing it as a ‘dinky little sportscar’ while another called it ‘fuuugly’ there is no doubting that there is nothing like it on the road. Because of the rather inclement weather we have had most of those that have seen the car have not seen its party piece – a single piece roof that pivots on its axis and is stowed in its own storage compartment in the boot. Through the magic of engineering there is not need for a game of boot origami before you set off as when folded the roof does not encroach on valuable boot space. The best part however is that the whole operation takes less than twelve seconds to complete, although you do have to be stationary with the handbrake on to instigate the change from coupe to roadster.
To allow the Wind to be driven around topless RenaultSport constructed a relatively unseen cage around the passenger structure both for safety and to keep the little roadster rigid. It does a good job of keeping flex and scuttleshake at bay but it does come with a down side and that is the weight it adds to the car. At 1131kg the diminutive little Wind is actually heavier than the benchmark roadster – the Mazda MX-5 and it is the extra heft around the middle that is the Wind’s downfall. The 100bhp 1.2-litre turbocharged TCE engine has just enough puff to shift the weight (though I would rather more) but the weight has dulled the thrills that the Twingo chassis the Wind borrows can offer. It is still capable of a fun bit of point-and-squirt but there is not enough ‘feel’ offered through either the steering wheel or the oul ‘backside barometer’ to encourage you to push that little bit harder looking for the limits.
Despite being built by RenaultSport the Wind is not badged as one so maybe it is best I forget the association and realise that not everyone who buys a coupe/cabriolet is interested in the driving dynamics though. In fact looking at drivers of similar cars during the week shows what cars like this are all about – the looks. And here the Wind scores highly. Even in standard guise it is guaranteed to attract attention but factor in the Gordini spec that adds Malta Blue paintwork with contrasting white stripes, blue detailing to the alloy wheels and a bespoke interior and heads will be turning as you drive past. It is certainly not for the shy retiring type but C/C’s rarely are – they are for people who favour looks over performance and style over practicality. On those terms the Wind makes perfect sense – I juts wish they made a RS version for the rest of us…..
• Renault Wind Gordini
• Engine: 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
• Maximum power: 100hp
• Maximum torque: 152Nm
• Acceleration (0-100km/h): 10.2 seconds
• Fuel economy (combined cycle): 6.4 litres/100km (66mpg)
• CO2 emissions: 145g/km
• Annual road tax: €302 (Tax C)
• Available from £26,990