The quality built into the All-new Renault Austral, which was revealed this March, goes far beyond the choice of materials and the state-of-the-art on-board technology. Each detail was scrutinised to push the envelope further than ever. Olivier, an expert in perceived quality, explains the work he carried out on one of the emblematic interior design features in the first SUV of Renault’s Nouvelle Vague: its sliding hand rest – and what makes sliding it so exciting.
The all-new Renault Austral: The definition of quality
The first thing that strikes you when you slip into the All-new Austral’s high-tech cockpit is the harmony. The next thing that catches your eye is the mesmerising OpenR screen that wakes up with its welcoming sounds. The third stylish feature you can’t miss is a designer unit in the automatic-transmission versions: an ergonomic, sliding hand rest. It guides your hand into exactly the right position to use the multimedia screen and the “piano” buttons beneath it. But the feeling when you handle this moving rest is something else. Olivier told us how he made that happen.
Shining a spotlight on an emblematic designer unit
Olivier’s job as expert in perceived quality takes a lot of subtlety: he makes sure every new model in the Renault range is consistent all round, and that the various parts of the vehicle body and passenger compartment add up to a stunning whole. He checks the quality of the materials, supervises the entire process to turn the image on the drawing board into a road-ready car, checks the movements are smooth and the surfaces flush, makes sure the moving parts are easy to use and finds ways of tantalising users.
The All-new Renault Austral SUV, which will reach the market next autumn, is no exception. Olivier and his colleagues scrutinised it from every angle to raise its quality to outstanding levels.
“We worked on all the moving parts in the All-new Austral. But, if I had to mention one, it would be the sliding hand rest,” he confides.
« We had a fantastic multifunctional designer unit on the central console, but moving it back and forth wasn’t especially exhilarating. The head of Interior Design and I thought about how to make it more appealing. »
The sliding hand rest, an emblematic design unit, at the centre of the All-new Renault Austral’s cruising console.
The sound was the key
Adding notches and the sounds that they make when you move the hand rest back and forth soon became the obvious way to go.
« Straight away, we thought of adding a sound to go with the hand rest’s movements: a befitting, somewhat metallic ‘notch’ sound. »
Olivier knew exactly what he wanted it to sound like, but he had to find words to describe a sensation to the rest of the team… Not a simple matter! Fortunately, he is also into other kinds of mechanisms and found the one he needed to make them “hear” what he meant.
He is a watch enthusiast – digital ones because they are practical and automatic ones because he finds their precise mechanisms and exquisite finish fascinating. And he happened to be wearing one that made exactly the sound he had in mind.
« The watch I wear to do sports has a ratcheting bezel. I happened to turn it and heard the exact sound I was thinking of for the sliding system in the Austral’s hand rest. It’s a beautiful sound; you can hear the quality workmanship and precision craftmanship. »
It was one of Olivier’s watches, which has a ratcheting bezel, that pointed him to the sound he wanted for the sliding hand rest in the All-new Renault Austral
Precision and control: the two operative words in perceived quality
The project team and Design team instantly loved the idea, and everyone got to work to create the notching and appealing metallic sound it makes, based on the principle in the ratcheting watch bezel. They built 13 evenly spaced notches into the hand rest’s sliding mechanism, to create a feeling of millimetre-accurate settings and a pleasing sound to go with it.
The development teams worked swiftly and efficiently on a notch system for the sliding mechanism to create a pleasing sound when users adjust the All-new Renault Austral’s hand rest.