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Renault unveils new Rafale flagship

Coupe-style SUV offers hybrid driveline and all-wheel drive, on sales from 2024

20 Jun 2023

RENAULT has unveiled its new Rafale flagship at the Paris Air Show – the coupe-style SUV taking its name from a record-breaking airplane built by the French brand Caudron-Renault in the 1930s – ahead of its launch in the European spring of 2024.


It is not yet known which international markets Renault has earmarked for the Rafale – though given it is based on the left-hand drive only Espace, Australian delivery seems unlikely.


The upper mid-sized model is set to feature 149kW and 223kW hybridised petrol drivelines with front- and all-wheel drive. It will replace the Talisman sedan and station wagon range as Renault’s top-of-the-range model.


Riding on the brand’s CMF-C/D platform – shared with the forthcoming Austral and Espace – the Rafale will share its wheelbase dimensions with the Espace while being marginally shorter in length overall (4710mm versus 4722mm).


The Rafale does, however, feature a 40mm wider wheel track than the Espace, a characteristic said to enhance its sportier attitude.


“The all-new Renault Rafale is central in the ‘Renaulution’ (and) symbolises our move upmarket and shows that we belong in every customer segment,” said Renault brand CEO, Fabrice Cambolive.


“With its captivating coupe-SUV design crafted for intense experiences, it provides unprecedented driving pleasure with its hybrid powertrains and a standard-setting chassis brimming with passion and know-how from Renault engineers.”


Stylistically, Renault says the Rafale is the first model to introduce the design language of former Peugeot design chief, Gilles Vidal. Its raised fastback body recalls the Arkana but with larger proportions and broad shoulders its designers say suggest power.


Speaking of, the model will be powered by a 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol unit developing 112kW combined with a 50kW electric drive motor and 25kW starter generator paired to a clutchless gearbox.


The e-Tech hybrid (HEV) system is also found in the Austral and Espace and utilises a 2kWh battery to assist in a low fuel consumption average of 4.7 litres per 100km and combined cycle CO2 emissions of 105 grams per kilometre.


The all-wheel drive variant, with 223kW, adds a second electric drive motor to the rear axle, and will be a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) rather than a HEV system. That model will debut at a later stage, Renault said.


Both variants will feature Renaults 4Control all-wheel steering to offer a tight turning circle of 10.4m.


The Rafale will offer a strong feature list worthy of its flagship position, including a 1500mm long by 1200mm wide glass roof with voice-controlled electronic tinting, upholstery made from recycled Alcantara, and LED ambient lighting with “pulsing lights” embedded in the head restraints.


“The all-new Rafale is a powerful illustration of the Renault brand’s new design language,” said Renault brand vice president of design, Gilles Vidal.


“It is keeping with its DNA through generous curves, treated with great precision, combined with lines of tension and technical details that bring character and sophistication to the whole (form).


“With its unprecedented style, quality craftsmanship and proportions, the all-new Renault Rafale asserts its power and personality on the road.”

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