New Renault 4 revealed as rugged EV reinvention of the cult classic

17 Oct 2022

This is the new Renault 4Ever Trophy, a rugged rally-themed concept car that provides a close preview of the classic model’s reinvention as a small electric crossover due in 2025.

The new machine will be a key model in the French firm’s rapidly expanding line-up of electric vehicles, sitting between the forthcoming Renault 5 hatch and the recently launched Renault Megane E-Tech Electric family crossover.

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As with those two models, Renault has taken inspiration from one of its old models for a brand-new EV, reviving the nameplate of the long-running and much-loved Renault 4. The boxy MPV was hugely popular both as a family and commercial vehicle, and during a production run that ran from 1961 until 1994 Renault sold more than eight million examples.

The new version is an entirely different car, with a very different purpose – but Renault bosses do think that the production version could quickly become the firm’s best-selling EV when it is launched in 2025.

Here’s what you need to know about the new Renault 4Ever Trophy, which has been revealed at the Paris Motor Show.

What exactly is the Renault 4Ever Trophy?

It’s our first hint at what the production version of the Renault 4 EV will look like when it arrives in 2025. As it typical for car firms, they don’t want to give everything away so they’ve wrapped up the 4Ever Trophy with some bold concept car styling – in this case some outlandish off-road rally accoutrements – but don’t be fooled: there’s a close-to-production car under here.

As with the smaller Renault 5 hatch that will be launched before it, the Renault 4 uses the firm’s CMF-BEV platform for small electric cars. This is basically a development version of the platform used for the hugely popular Renault Zoe, which will effectively be succeeded by the 4 and 5.

While the 5 will firmly be a compact hatch, Renault says that the 4 will be a larger B-segment SUV – a small crossover, basically. Think of the relationship between the combustion-engined Renault Clio and Captur – or in EV terms, something like the Peugeot e-208 and e-2008.

Renault 4 project manager Laure Gregoire said: “The Renault 5 is maybe a car for one or two people, and really designed for urban usage. We want the 4 to be more versatile: the car of a family, and something that you can use every week and at the weekend.”

The concept version of 4060mm long, which makes it around 300mm shorter than machines such as the e-2008 and the Volkswagen ID 3. It’s 2100mm wide and 1900mm high.

The old Renault 4 wasn’t an SUV… so why is the new one?

While it doesn’t exactly fit into modern vehicle categories, with its boxy body, hatchback rear and host of practical features the original Renault 4 would be best described as a mini MPV. While the 4Ever Trophy concept clearly takes design inspiration from it, it’s also clearly designed to fit into the hugely popular small SUV class.

Sandeep Bhambra, Renault’s advanced design director, said that while the revived 4 would be a different type of vehicle, it would maintain the ethos of the original. “The original 4 was designed to be versatile, and you could call it the first crossover,” he said. “It was a car you could drive in the countryside, you could drive off-road and you could drive in the city. That versatility was part of the brief. We wanted the Renault 4 to be more versatile, while the 5 is more of a city car.”

The family resemblance is clear, with the design of the 4Ever Trophy containing numerous nods to the original. The most prominent is the basic front-end silhouette, particularly the horizontal ‘grille’ panel that features the latest version of Renault’s logo and the distinctive round lights. In a modern twist, the logo is illuminated and the lights are Matrix LEDs. 

The side profile showcases trapezoidal side windows with rounded corners and there are also digital cameras instead of wing mirrors, while the rear of the car features upright rectangular lights. Notably, as with the original, the rear section is angled forwards.

Why does the concept look like it’s ready for a week in the desert?

That’s because as well as previewing the future production car, the Renault 4Ever Trophy concept is a celebration of the long-running 4L Trophy, a humanitarian rally in which teams of students drive restored Renault 4 machines across Morocco to deliver equipment to schools in the country.

As a result, Renault has given the concept a dune buggy vibe, fitting big off-road tyres on 19in rims, jacking up the ride height, reinforcing the underside of the car and sticking on extra-wide wheel arch cladding. Notably each wheel features a built-in compressor so that the tyre pressure can be easily changed from within the car.

Oh, and there’s also a spare tyre mounted on a roof rack, and there’s a shovel and sand plate fixed on the rear boot lid. Predictably those features are unlikely to reach the production version, mostly because you don’t often have to dig your way out of a sand dune to reach your local Aldi.

That said, if you take away those features this concept really does closely preview the production Renault 4 that’s due to arrive in 2025. Bhambra added: “Everything that is body colour is close to the production car. But everything below that is pure concept.”

What about the interior?

There isn’t one. No, really: this is properly a show model so the version we saw didn’t have an interior to speak of: merely a hint of a steering wheel and a glass panel that could be used as a digital display. We haven’t seen one for the Renault 5 yet, either, so we can’t say much about it. We can confirm it will have one, though. 

Okay… so what do we know about the technical details?

Renault says that the 4Ever Trophy concept has a 100kW (134bhp) motor, which draws power from a 42kWh battery mounted under the floor. While nothing has been confirmed, we’d expect that to offer a range of around 250 miles.

Renault wouldn’t be drawn on other powertrain options, insisting that was still being evaluated. However, we know that the platform will be capable of housing twin-motor powertrains that offer all-wheel-drive, which would seem a likely option given the car’s brief.

Alpine, Renault’s performance arm, is also working on a hot version of the Renault 5, that will use a twin-motor 160kW powertrain, and given they share a platform it would be technically possible to develop a similar version of the Renault 4. However, it is not part of Alpine’s planned initial ‘three-car dream garage’ line-up, and would be less of a fit with the 4’s ethos.

What else do I need to know?

The Renault 4 will be built in the firm’s ElectriCity production hub in northern France, alongside the 5 and the Megane E-Tech Electric, and it’s set to go into production in 2025.

Notably, Renault expects a lot of 4 sales to be through lease and subscription schemes, including those run through the firm’s new Mobilize brand. The machine has been designed with this brief in mind, including the need to offer connected services as part of a digital ‘ecosystem’, and to make the car affordable – a step that includes the use of a large amount of recycled content.

We’d expect the Renault 4 to cost around £25,000 when it is released, pitching it just about the 5 – which company bosses are aiming to launch with a starting price below £20,000.


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