IS THIS the car that can save congested cities such as London, Paris and Rome from chronic air pollution? Renault has revealed its first plug-in hybrid with a promise that it can drive more than 280 miles on a gallon of fuel and emits just 22g/km of CO2.
The Eolab is a showcase for the French company’s engineers, containing a feast of new technology for making a family car ultra-efficient and putting the va-va-voom into going green.
The question car buyers will be asking, though, when the Eolab is first displayed in public at next month’s Paris motor show is: will it ever go on sale? And the answer, sadly, is: there are no plans to put it into production.
The streamlined machine — which is about the size of a Renault Clio but, despite the weight of its hybrid powertrain, lighter than the lightest petrol version of the little hatchback — is said to showcase about 100 innovations that could be incorporated in production models in due course.
They include some predictable fuel-saving tricks such as lighter body panels and low-rolling-resistance tyres. The car also bristles with more futuristic features: hubcaps that automatically transform into a solid disc when air-cooling of the brakes is not needed to reduce drag; no rear door on the driver’s side to reduce weight; and a ride height that automatically lowers at speed to improve aerodynamics.
The Eolab marks a change in direction for the French car maker, which was an early champion of all-electric power. Perhaps noting the success of hybrids made by companies ranging from McLaren to Toyota, Renault is expected to follow suit, putting the hybrid powertrain from the Eolab (a 1-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with a 40kW, or 54bhp, electric motor) in its production models.
On paper it’s the ideal car for families looking to reduce bills and cut emissions. If only they could buy it.
Renault Eolab specifications
Engine: 999cc, 3 cylinders, petrol, plus 40kW electric motor with 8.7kW battery
Power: 128bhp (total)
Torque: 218 lb ft (total)
Release date: Previewed at Paris motor show on October 2; not destined for production
Graham Goode Racing Fiesta ST 240
The Ford Fiesta ST is one of the most fun cars you can buy on a budget. But if Driving has one criticism of the hot hatch, it’s that its excellent handling can make the engine feel underpowered. Graham Goode Racing’s tuning package, however, will lift power from 180bhp to 240bhp. For £729 (including fitting) it revises the engine management and air intake and adds free-flow pipes. It takes the price of the cheapest Fiesta ST to £17,979.
On sale Now