First impressions of Renault's new Wind is that it's less of a car and more like something a teenager would dock with an iPod. With its rather bulbous lines, stubby proportions and chunky features, the Wind is an automotive caricature, a piece of Hot Wheels design that draws more on consumer electronics than car culture. Decked out in white, with the odd splash of chrome, jazzy stickers and chunky wheels, the Wind screams 'contemporary hip' in a way that is most unbecoming.
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The market for stylish drop-tops has exploded in the past decade, with the UK in particular especially keen on open-air motoring (perversely, we know). Renault's Wind concept of 2004 was the first hint that a compact convertible might be forthcoming. The actual production car is far less conventional than the concept, with a pivoting roof and a high-backed, chunky style, all based on a tweaked chassis from Renault's back catalogue.
Physically, the car the Wind most resembles is Honda's CR-Z, as both are stubby, nimble and very contemporary in their visual stylings. Yet while the Wind is technologically conventional (apart from that flip-top roof) the CR-Z is a mild hybrid that fizzes and sparks like a loose wire. Renault haven't really played up their own sporting heritage with this car, preferring to pitch at the style conscious, rather than the enthusiast driver. It handles fairly decently, however, and is light and compact enough to make regular city driving a very realistic proposition. However, the French firm are chomping at the bit to enter the EV market (their key industry partner is Nissan, the company with the best-advanced mass-market EV tech of all), so it's not too hard a stretch to envision the second generation Wind going the battery-powered route. For now, the current car is a pleasingly quirky alternative to some of the more conventional compact droptops (MINI and Fiat 500 for starters) and a cut above the folding hardtops offered by its rivals like Peugeot.