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Renault teaches the 4 how to fly for its 60th birthday

Autoblog logo Autoblog 11/29/2021 Ronan Glon

Renault is celebrating 60 years of the 4, one of its best-selling and most emblematic models, by turning it into a flying car. It teamed up with a design firm named TheArsenale to build a functional prototype called Air4 that explores what the hatchback could look like in 60 years.

We're promised that the Air4 is "not a concept nor a joke." Completed in under six months, it consists of two main components. The first is the body, which is unmistakably shaped like the 4. It has no doors, and several styling cues (such as the lights on both ends) have been brought into the 21st century, but it nonetheless looks a lot like the hatchback that remained in production without receiving significant visual changes for over 30 years. The entire body tilts forward — just like the real 4's hood — to reveal a simple cabin with only one seat.

The second component is the powertrain. Four twin-blade propellers lift the Air4 off the ground and allow it to reach a top speed of about 55 mph. It was designed to cruise at an altitude of roughly 750 yards and while it's not there yet, it can already fly. TheArsenale released a video showing the Air4 taking off under its own power and hovering in the air. As of writing, it has been tested about 16 yards above the ground.


While the Air4 is ostensibly not a concept and apparently not a joke, nothing suggests it's an accurate preview of a production-bound vehicle. We'll call it a one-off, then. It will be displayed in the Renault showroom on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, France, until the end of 2021. Looking ahead, it will kick off 2022 by crossing the Atlantic and making stops in Miami and in New York City before heading to Macao.

60 years of the blue-jeans car

Launched in 1961, the 4 was envisioned as a "blue-jeans car" by Pierre Dreyfus, Renault's CEO from 1955 to 1975. It needed to fill the gap between a country car and a city car — and this rift was massive in 1950s France. It launched with four doors, a large rear hatch (which was extremely innovative at the time), a folding rear bench seat and front-wheel drive. It stayed that way until 1994, when the final example was built, but it spawned numerous off-shoots including short- and long-wheelbase vans and the open-top, beach-friendly Rodeo.

Renault made over 8.1 million units of the 4. None were officially sold in the United States, though some early prototypes were sent to Minnesota for cold-weather testing. Rumors of a born-again 4 have swirled around the industry for over a decade and the French firm has strongly hinted that a comeback is around the corner. Until then, the closest thing to a 4 in the current Renault range is the Kangoo.

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Renault teaches the 4 how to fly for its 60th birthday originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 29 Nov 2021 10:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.


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