When Renault imagined a Twingo SUV!

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ULM: this is how the specifications define this small, extra-urban and ultra-economical car. At the beginning of the 1990s, it’s not only Twingo that is warming the brains of Renault’s creative team!

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The specifications of this small Renault are on a single A4 sheet, signed by the Product Management. We read that this W78 project should enable Renault to “have in the range, an economical and light vehicle, in 4×2 for extra-urban and off-road use with a 4×4 option for use in low grip conditions.” When you see the photos of the 1/1 scale model published in these post, you immediately think of a small Jeep. Better still, a Jeep-Twingo!

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Except that the project has little in common with the brilliant Renault presented in 1992, marketed in 1993. Except perhaps this distant link with the R4. The philosophy of the W78 ULM, according to the specifications, is indeed “to be a modern synthesis of the rural features of the Renault 4 and what the Méhari should have been.”

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THIS SUBJECT IS EXTRACTED FROM THE RENAULT CONCEPT CAR BOOK (above). DISCOVER OTHER UNPUBLISHED CONCEPTS IN THE 356 PAGES OF THIS BOOK HERE: https://www.bjbeditions.com/products/concept-cars-et-prototypes-d-etudes-renault

It is not forbidden to give a few scratches to your competitor! If we have to refer to the Renault 4, then let’s rather choose the “Plein air” variant which was unveiled in May 1968, just one day before the… Citroën Méhari.

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The W78 project is indeed an ultra-light motorised vehicle “for the fields, mountains and seaside” as specified by Renault, which also state that it is entirely discoverable and for local or regional use. “The objectives of autonomy, acoustics and comfort are therefore related” concludes the document, which says a lot about the work carried out on these services! Nevertheless, we did find one thing in common with the Twingo: the W78 ULM has only one engine, 60 hp.

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With so little in terms of comfort or equipment – just one level – the Renault W78 weighs only 700 kg in its basic two-seater, two-wheel drive version. This is very competitive considering the vehicle’s size, which is 3.50 m long and only 1.60 m wide. The project began in 1993 under the direction of Yves Legal. From July to October of this year, the design office imagined a demonstrator with its mechanics and bodywork layout. A rather light bodywork, designed by Anne Asensio.

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The style freeze is scheduled for March 1994, while marketing is planned for the end of 1996. But the project is stopped after the style freeze. So that’s the end of this programme which, despite the sale of the shares of American Motors and its Jeep division to Chrysler in 1987 under the reign of Raymond Lévy, had a little American taste. Finished? Not really, since at the beginning of the 2000s, a small adventurer project resurfaced with one constraint: to recover the doors of the Twingo. After numerous 1/5th scale models signed by Axel Breun, Renault put a definitive end to the project. The ULM will not fly…

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