Renault gets romantic as 'Love' inspires its newest concept sports car

(CNN)In the auto industry, vehicles are often compared to animals -- Mustangs, Jaguars, Cobras, Rams. They're less often compared to flowers.

But at Renault, a daisy has long inspired the French automaker's entire design philosophy.
Not just any daisy but rather, the "Flower of Life".
    Each of its six petals symbolizes a stage of human existence. At the top, there is "Love" (a red petal), then "Explore" (orange), "Family" (yellow), "Work" (green), "Play" (blue), and "Wisdom" (purple).
    That's quite a lot of flowery language for an automaker's product planning brochure.

    A poetic ride

    For Renault, it all starts with "l'amour."
    Or, to put it another way, DeZir. That was the name of a flaming red two-seater concept car Renault unveiled in 2010. It was pronounced "désir", French for desire, and the job of this concept car was to get people excited about Renault again.
    The brand's image had become stale, executives feared. Renault needed some passion.
    "It has to start like that, because, see, if there's no desire whatsoever then you cannot even think about another type of vehicle," says Stephane Janin, head of concept car design for Renault.

    From concept to reality

    Since DeZir, a series of concept cars have represented each subsequent petal. Several of them went on to become production vehicles.
    In 2011, it a pumpkin-orange two-seat crossover SUV concept called Captur embodied "Explore" -- Renault saw it as the sort of vehicle in which a young couple might discover the world.
    The real Renault Captur production vehicle, which has back seats and lacks some of the concept's more outrageous features, made its debut two years later.
    "Family", the next petal on the flower, was realized in the gold-colored Renault R-Space concept, also unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show.
    The family-friendly vehicle had a rear seat area made from soft square columns that could reconfigure into a variety of shapes. Its tall, tightly packed columns, for example, could become seats or a flat play space.
    Next was the Renault Frendzy concept, revealed that same year at the Frankfurt Motor Show, and symbolic of "Work" -- in a fun way.
    The Frendzy was a futuristic electrically powered work van. It had passenger seats, front and back, that fold out of the way to make for more storage space.
    Both the side doors and rear tailgate opened out like clam shells for easy access.
    Two years later, in Monaco, we met the Renault Twin'Run concept. The theme, of course, was "Play", a petal reserved for Renault Sport products.
    The Twin'Run was a tiny city car that blossomed into a hyper-aggressive rally car. Created in homage to famous Renault rally cars, like the Turbo 5, the Twin'Run sported a big rear wing, lots of lights and a bright blue paint job with orange stripes.
    Later, its rounded box shape would appear on real roads as the new Renault Twingo.

    The last petal

    As the Flower of Life fully bloomed, the last petal unfurled at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show: the long and luxurious Initiale Paris concept. In a deep eggplant purple, the Initiale embodied "Wisdom".
    Something like a crossover SUV but without the extra height, the Initiale looked suited for someone with money and a big family.
    The concept vehicle would pass on its flowing lines to a new generation of the roomy Renault Espace which debuted the following year.

    Renault's Trezor

    With one life cycle complete, Renault's daisy for a while was dormant. But true to the natural life cycle, the flower has sprung up again. This time, at the Paris Motor Show.
    And what better place to start again than "Love"?
    The long, silver Trezor concept car is a two-seater sports car, clearly occupying a realm of fantasy unencumbered by practicality.
    The entire top, including the red windshield, lifted up "like the lid on a jewelry box," according to Renault's description. The interior was of course, bright red.
    Now that the next trip around the flower has begun, there will be no departure from Renault's current design path, says Janin, head of concept car design for Renault.
    Instead, it will evolve.
    "We are really happy to have found our brand identity, our design language," he says. "It's working really well right now."