Remember that revived Renault 4 teaser we wrote about earlier this month, the one Jason said looked like it might fly? Well Apollo seems to have once again dished out the kickball of prophecy, because the car’s full reveal today shows exactly that: A replica Renault 4 body mounted to a big quadcopter. I mean, uh, a totally real and functional and production-ready flying car. At least, that’s what the people who made it say.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Renault 4L, Renault teamed up with “mobility enthusiast” brand TheArsenale to build a carbon-fiber 4L shell and put big fans under it. TheArsenale’s press release explicitly calls the car “Not a concept or a joke,” which is a completely normal thing to say about your absolutely real product debut.
Renault’s press release touts the heritage of the Renault 4, detailing its working-class appeal and seemingly perpetual first-car status. From the release:
The original Renault 4 was a simple, efficient and versatile vehicle built between 1961 and 1992. A “blue jeans” car, as the former head of Renault Group, Pierre Dreyfus, used to describe it. A true icon conveying families, businesses and the likes of the gendarmerie and La Poste, as well as helping several generations of young motorists get behind the wheel. Its values and qualities convinced TheArsenale to collaborate with Renault to reimagine a 4L designed to drive along the unmarked highways above our heads.
Of course, the natural successor to a beloved people’s car is a big drone with a retro-looking car body stacked on top. The Renault 4 body, constructed “almost entirely of carbon,” doesn’t actually appear to be integral to the VTOL vehicle in any way — the whole thing tilts off the flying chassis, like a full-scale version of those body-swappable RC cars.
While flying cars continue to not be real, TheArsenale has at least built something functional here. The AIR4 is capable of ascending at over 31 mph (though limited to 9 mph for safety) up to a maximum height of nearly fifty feet. The company claims it can hit 58 miles per hour in a straight line, and that it will someday operate at altitudes of nearly 2,300 feet — but there’s that flying car word again. Someday.
It’s only natural that the successor to an attainable, practical vehicle be a (presumably) expensive, useless drone to which someone has bolted a chair. The lineage couldn’t be more direct: A straight line from “the car you learned to drive in” to “a one-off flying machine that may someday become a toy for rich people, that happens to kinda look like the car you learned to drive in.”
To Renault’s credit, the company isn’t claiming the standard three-year timeline for bringing the AIR4 to market. Instead, the car is meant to be “a wink to how this icon could look like in another 60 years.” Maybe by then it’ll actually be practical for something. Anything.