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Frankfurt Motor Show: Renault Egeus

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Like virtually all recent design studies, the Egeus attempts to mix the best bits of a couple of genres, in this case a 4x4 crossed with a coupe crossed with a luxury saloon. It rides high on big wheels and tyres, unlike some recent crossovers such as the low-slung Mercedes-Benz R-Class. The sleek silhouette (Renault reckons it looks as if it's "been sculpted from a single piece" of metal) and curved roof-line hint at a little more tarmac performance than your average 4x4; its rather stark face, with its gaping air-vents, wrap-up headlamps and chunky bumpers, is evolved from that of the Wind and Fluence show cars.

The car that eventually goes into production will undoubtedly be focused more on its on-road handling and refinement, and go head to head with compact off-roaders such as the Toyota RAV4 and Land Rover Freelander. That said, this concept features adaptive full-time four-wheel drive and a 3.0-litre V6.

The cabin is suitably spacious and upmarket, with a "warm and welcoming" atmosphere, according to Renault. Inspiration for the patterned leather seats comes from imagery of the setting sun, apparently. The bisected interior seating compartments have been seen on other concepts, of course, but in the Egeus it looks quite well-conceived, with a sweeping central storage binnacle and swivelling front seats.

It's unlikely that any production Renault 4x4 will be positioned in the premium sector, either; platform sharing with Nissan will result in two small off-roaders arriving by 2007. The first will be based on the upcoming Almera/Megane running gear, the second on the X-Trail. Renault's previous attempts at mud-plugging haven't been big sellers. The Kangoo Trekka, whilst a relatively able rock-hopper, offers only niche appeal, whilst the Scenic RX4 was seen as too expensive compared to the standard MPV version.
 
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