Introduced in 1961 and in production in most territories until 1992, the 4 saw over 8 million units produced. It was the first front-wheel-drive family car from Renault, and it is the 17th longest living single generation car. Over the years, the 4 saw adjustments to demand and feedback, from three-speed transmission to four-speed, a more powerful engine, and phasing out exterior chrome for plastic. But the essence of it never changed: the 4 was the family car you could use for business and pleasure, it was reliable, and it was affordable.
Renault plans to bring back the 4 with electric powertrain, with 4ever and the 5, both of which will be based on the new electric platform CMF-BEV, offering ranges of up to 400 km (248.5 miles). Until then, the carmaker is celebrating 60 years of the classic 4 with a series of one-offs meant to highlight the versatility and the importance of the original.
Suite N°4 is one such one-off – the second to last in the series. It’s a concept vehicle that exists in the physical world as well, designed with multi-disciplinary designer Mathieu Lehanneur. It is, if you will, a very modern take on the iconic family car, which updates and makes it able to meet the needs of today’s travel-hungry owner. Lehanneur calls it a hotel room on wheels, hence the name of Suite N°4.
To be sure, compared to actual recreational vehicles, Suite N°4 is almost silly-looking. The claim that it’s a rolling hotel suite only makes sense if you think of a “suite” as nothing but a bed, because that’s the only thing the compact footprint of the 4 will fit. That said, Suite N°4 is more of a testament to the 4’s long-lasting popularity and an art piece, than a practical application that would make sense in real life. As both these things, it’s gorgeous.
Lehanneur decided to completely reimagine the rear end of the 4, replacing the roof with glazing – actually polycarbonate surfaces –, and putting transparent solar panels on it, to charge up the battery whenever this hotel “suite” is on idle. Like the upcoming 4ever, this reinterpreted 4 is fully electric. In his desire to turn the 4 into an architectural design, Lehanneur changed nothing about the original dimensions and classic lines, but was still able to highlight the concept of art de vivre inside and out.
According to Renault, Suite N°4 is the epitome of the “Renaulution” philosophy, that of “creat[ing] modern and innovative cars that provoke emotions.” Fancy words aside, this translates into a car whose rear end and trunk have been repurposed, so that it becomes a comfortable and almost-luxurious lounge whenever you reach your destination, one that is furnished elegantly by Parisian artisans.
The seats and dashboard are upholstered in yellow velvet, while the space in the rear (the proper lounge, if you will) is contrasting, light ribbed chenille fabric. You get pillows and bolsters, because you can’t talk about a comfortable living room without at least a couple of throw pillows. At the rear, there’s a retractable wooden bench, which can serve as table for two or sheltered seat.
For Suite N°4, Lehanneur kept the iconic headlights but recreated the grille in polished aluminum, his signature material. The result is striking and, we’re told, evokes fluidity and dynamism, but also evasion. For the paintjob, Lehanneur applied three different coats of paint to get the exact color and aspect of cement.
Suite N°4 made its debut at Christie’s in Paris, France, and will be included in the collection Atelier Renault.