Renault has unveiled its new flagship, the Rafale in Europe. This hybrid coupe-SUV shares its platform, including wheelbase, with the family-oriented Austral and Espace.
- Renault Rafale gets the clutchless hybrid powertrain
- 4WD variant's electric-only range is 48-64km
Renault Rafale dimensions, exterior design language
The Renault Rafale's features a striking new grille, prominent haunches and a long fastback roof that offers both generous rear passenger headroom and efficient aerodynamics. The SUV uses the CMF-CD platform, Renault's version of a component that already underpins 15 million Renault Group models from the Clio upwards. It fits into the heart of the SUV segment with an overall length of 4.7m, a height of 1.61m and a wheelbase of 2.74m.
Renault Rafale powertrain, hybrid system
The carmaker said the Rafale is “a vehicle born and bred for driving pleasure”. It will be available in two variants. At launch, the Rafale gets the 194hp clutchless hybrid powertrain, and derives its power from a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine and two electric motors. The 127hp Atkinson Cycle engine drives the front wheels via a four-speed automatic gearbox. A 66hp electric drive motor (with its own integral two-speed dog box) is sandwiched between the engine and the main gearbox.
The second electric motor is an integrated starter-generator that starts the petrol engine, collects energy when the car coasts or brakes and can assist with acceleration when needed. This powertrain, electronically governed, doesn’t need a clutch because the car always starts under electric power only, and the meshing of the two-speed dog box is managed by the electric motor.
Renault Rafale 4WD, battery and range
The new flagship will appear first in Europe as a 194hp front-wheel-drive hybrid, but a 290hp four-wheel-drive version is also scheduled. In the base model Rafale, there’s a 2kWh battery under the driver’s seat that allows short-range electric driving. The 290hp, four-wheel-drive Rafale has the same front-mounted powertrain as the original but accompanies that with an electrified rear axle which uses a separate electric motor in the unit with a rear differential. This model has a much bigger battery and is understood to be a plug-in hybrid with an EV-only range of 48-64km.
Renault in India
In India, Renault is presently only selling three models at present the Kwid, Triber and Kiger. While the Renault Rafale won't make a debut here, the Duster name is set to make a return in 2025. The third-generation Duster will be more off-road oriented, tougher looking and will also be able to support combustion engines, hybrids and EV powertrains. The new Duster will also get a Nissan derivative.