Search Cars for Sale

The Renault Avantime Was One of the Most Bizarre Vehicles Ever

In the world of weird cars, vehicles that seem to stand out above the others are strange combinations of automotive ideas — like, for instance, the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet, which was part-SUV and part-convertible. But in the 2000s, Renault created an even stranger combination: a minivan that was also a coupe. I’m serious.

It was called the Renault Avantime, and yes, it was a minivan with a "sleek" coupe body. I saw the one pictured above when I was in Amsterdam a few weeks ago, and I decided North America needed to know the story of this vehicle, which has (up until now) merely been a laughingstock for car enthusiasts in Europe.

So here’s the situation. The Avantime was sold new from 2001 to 2003, and the idea was — I am completely serious — that they wanted to capture buyers whose kids had grown up and left home, but who still were comfortable driving a minivan. So they debuted a car with a minivan seating position and yet a sleeker look with only two doors. It was even based on the platform of Renault’s popular minivan, the Espace, with the same front-wheel-drive layout and engines.

Inside, however, things were very different from a typical minivan. Of course, it only had two doors — two massive doors. It also had a very gradual windshield with a base about 3 feet in front of the driver. But the issue was in back: You were driving a minivan with minivan dimensions and small, hard-to-reach rear seats.

Naturally, this was a ridiculous and horrible idea, and it didn’t sell at all: Wikipedia says Renault sold just 8,557 units from 2001 to 2003, before the whole thing was shelved in favor of whatever bizarre project they were cooking up next. In several trips to Europe, I’ve only seen two of these in my life — and I was highly excited to see this one, as I know I may never again gaze at the glory of the Avantime. Find a minivan for sale

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

Do You Have Any Effect on Car Market Prices?
The Ford Taurus MT-5: The Taurus You Didn’t Know About
Here Are the Most Exciting 1980s Cars For Sale on Autotrader


Sign up for Autotrader newsletters

The best cars and best deals delivered to your inbox

Email Address 

By subscribing, you agree to our privacy policy

Where You Can Buy

Loading dealers...

Most Popular Articles

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: First Look

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid jumps to the head of the hybrid class.

How Much Money Should You Put Down on a Car?

Determining the right down payment for a new- or used-car loan or a new-car lease depends on more than just the buyer's finances.

Best SUV Deals: September 2020

Now is a great time to buy an SUV. Those who can afford a new ride are in luck because there are some great cashback and lease incentives right now.

Research by Style

More Articles Like This