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First look: Renault Nepta hides trick tech

Bold move: The Nepta hides some sophisticated engine technology.

Wacky French concept conceals a seven-speed auto and a direct-injected twin-turbo V6

13 Sep 2006

AT first glance, Renault’s wacky Nepta cabriolet concept appears to fall firmly into the same flight-of-fantasy category to which so many Paris show cars before it have been relegated.

It is highly likely that some of the low-slung four-seater GT cabrio’s styling cues will find their way into future Renault model designs, which is no bad thing given the upmarket drop-top’s rakish proportions, its clean, tight lines and the way its disproportionately long (1260mm) rear overhang harks back to automotive design’s golden era.

But look closer at the specs sheet and it is clear the real deal lies beneath the Nepta’s handsome - in a French sort of way - carbon bodywork.

Heralding the Parisian car-maker’s first employment of direct petrol-injection technology, Nepta is powered by a twin-turbocharged V6 that displaces the same 3.5-litres as many famous models from sister company Nissan, but in this case also adds direct injection to deliver no less than 309kW and a storming 560Nm of torque at 3000rpm – almost enough to power something like, say, Nissan’s next-generation GTR.

35 center imageMated to, wait for it, a Lexus-matching seven-speed automatic transmission with "flick-shift" steering wheel controls, Renault says the 1490kg Nepta is good for 0-100km/h acceleration in a supercar-style 4.9 seconds.

What’s more, it offers claimed average fuel consumption of just 9.4L/100km, although CO2 emissions are less impressive at 222kg/km.

Of course, Renault makes plenty of noise about the special anodic aluminium colour treatment on the lower part of Nepta’s bodyshell and spoilers, the semi-suspended dashboard, the active LED headlights and the motor-driven gullwing doors that are hinged from underneath full-length alloy panels and open to reveal the interior and engine compartment.

But we suspect the real reason for the rear-drive Nepta’s existence is to showcase its longitudinally mounted direct-injection bi-turbo V6 up front.

For the record, Nepta measures a big 4995mm long, 1956mm wide and 1332mm high, and rides on a 2845mm wheelbase and 23-inch wheels.

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