The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Renault Wind offers unique compact open-top motoring backed by Renault’s well developed chassis and handling capabilities.
Reasons to buy:
- Unique styling
- Clever roof
- Engaging drive
How good does it look?
The Renault Wind’s stylists had to stretch its little body around the Twingo hatchback’s structure, and have gone for cuteness rather than low-slung sexiness. Small wheels and an upright body give it a slightly barrel-shaped stance from some angles, but nobody could call this car anonymous. Details like the swoopy lamp clusters work best.
What's the interior like?
Inside there’s a mix of slightly avant garde shapes and a lot of dark plastics and trim materials designed to cope with getting wet. There are some nice touches, like the loop-shaped door grab handles. The slightly flashy instrument cluster is perfectly legible, but some of the minor controls, notably switches for the windows and mirrors, are awkward to get at.
How practical is it?
The ingenious electric roof does its stuff in 12 seconds, folding into an above-the-boot canopy that still leaves a decent amount of luggage space. The roof’s locking mechanism is also easy to use. Open, the car doesn’t buffet its occupants with uncomfortable gusts of air. Shut the roof and it’s perfectly refined, and the Wind has an impressive lack of, well, wind noise. There’s decent head, leg and shoulder room for two, although the seat back wings might restrict bigger occupants, and with the roof closed, headroom is limited for taller people.
What's it like to drive?
The Wind rides well for something short and small. It’s certainly calmer than sporting Twingos. With the roof open you’re aware of a certain amount of body flexing, which lessens when the roof is closed, and either way, this does not upset the car in corners. Steering is direct and the Wind can be punted confidently into bends where, when its tyres begin running out of grip, it’s the rear of the car that begins to gently move outwards, but this happens with plenty of warning and is easy to correct. Overall, the Wind is engaging rather than overtly sporting.
How powerful is it?
There’s a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol and non-turbo 1.6 with variable valve timing. We drove the bigger engined version, which proved free-revving and reasonably refined. Getting the best of it performance-wise means working the unexceptional five-speed gearbox hard and keeping it spinning quickly. Maximum pulling power is at a busy 4,400rpm, peak power at a screaming 6,750. Renault claims the 1.6-litre reaches 0-62mph in 9.2 seconds and a 125mph top speed, but the car doesn’t feel especially rapid. The 1.2-litre takes 10.5 seconds and reaches 118mph.
How much will it cost me?
Drivers of the 1.6 Wind can expect just over 40mpg and emissions of 165g/km, but anyone looking for a small user/chooser company car might be swayed by the 1.2’s 44.8mpg and 145g/km returns. These are made with only a small performance deficit.
How reliable is it?
In recent years Renault has had distinctly mixed press about quality and reliability, but the company has been up front about this and has made a lot of noise about its efforts to improve. The Wind seemed perfectly well screwed together, and is unlikely to have the niggles suffered by cars like the old model Laguna.
How safe is it?
Renault has worked hard to make its cars safe, and the Wind has a long list of passive and active features designed to protect its occupants and other road users. These include a rigid body structure with a number of features such as patented door bracing. Additionally the car has a range of electronic aids including brake assist and understeer control. The car’s swoopy body does create big three-quarter rear blind spots though.
How much equipment do I get?
Standard kit includes cruise control, 16-inch inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, electrically adjustable door mirrors, front fog lamps and a single CD/MP3 unit with fingertip controls and an aux input. Costlier Dynamique S versions get features including climate control and Bluetooth, whilst limited run Collection derivatives receive heated seats and leather-faced upholstery.
The Wind’s party piece folding roof works really well, and as either an easy to live with weekend car or fun, pre-family wheels it would work well. This is a novel small car which dares to be different, so its long term appeal is difficult to judge.