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Renault’s Trezor electric sports car concept previews future autonomous tech

Renault is taking its design language in a new direction, and what better way to show that new direction than a sleek electric sports car concept with a racing-derived powertrain?

That’s exactly what Renault unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, in the form of the Trezor concept. The Trezor follows in the footsteps of the 2010 DeZir concept, which introduced styling that is now used on many current Renault models. Like the DeZir, the Trezor itself won’t go into production, but its design DNA will be passed on to the French automaker’s future models. It’s the shape of things to come, literally.

The Trezor adopts classic sports-car proportions. The cabin is pushed so far to the back that it looks like there should be an internal-combustion engine under that long expanse of hood. In addition to being long, the Trezor is wide and low, standing just 42.5 inches tall. The sleek design helps contribute to an impressive drag coefficient of 0.22.

For the powertrain, Renault used an electric motor and regenerative braking system based on the hardware from its Formula E race cars. The motor sends 350 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque to the rear wheels, getting the Trezor from 0 to 62 mph in less than four seconds, according to Renault. The Trezor uses a carbon fiber passenger cell with tubular steel frames attached to the front and rear, helping keep weight down to 1,600 kilograms (3,527 pounds).

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Instead of conventional doors, the Trezor’s roof lifts off to allow access to the two-seat cockpit. The dashboard is one big curved OLED display made from Gorilla Glass, with touch controls handling most functions. The Trezor is capable of autonomous driving, and when it’s in self-driving mode, the steering wheel extends in width, providing a clearer view of the screen.

While the Trezor is just a concept car, many of its elements will show up on production Renaults, including at least some of the styling cues, and autonomous-driving tech. Along with partner Nissan, Renault plans to make autonomous systems available on mainstream models beginning in 2020.