New Renault Rafale hybrid SUV flagship gets priced, UK spec details | CAR Magazine

New Renault Rafale hybrid SUV flagship gets priced, UK spec details

Published: 08 May 2024

► New Renault Rafale pricing
► Flagship coupe SUV, hybrid only
► Three trim levels, upwards of £38k

Renault has announced pricing and spec details for its new range-topping SUV coupe – the Renault Rafale. Competing in the heavily congested hybrid SUV sector, the Rafale promises ‘the best mpg figures in its segment’ and as much as 296bhp – though not at the same time.

The starting price of £38,195 gets you the 197bhp variant, which combines a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine with two electric motors and a clutchless automatic ‘dog box’ transmission. There are three trim levels, infotainment by Google, and some fancy options, including a variable tint Solarbay glass roof.

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

Why the name?

Because Renault used to make aero engines and actually manufactured the Caudron-Renault Rafale (below) in 1934.

See the Renault Rafale unveiled in full at the Paris Air Show on 18 June 2023. Why an aviation show? Because Renault used to make aero engines and actually manufactured the Caudron-Renault Rafale plane of 1934

It’s also something to do with wind. Sorry, the wind. In French.

It looks interesting! 

The Rafale is the first car to bear the full weight of Renault’s new design language. 4710mm long, 1860mm wide and 1610mm tall, the Rafale hides its considerable size with some sporty features; the roofline curves down at the rear for a more ‘swoopy’ look, while a wide track and windscreen with seventeen degrees of rake make it feel somewhat more dynamic. 

The front of the Rafale also features the brand’s new headlight signature – originally debuted on the revised Clio shown earlier this year.

‘The all-new Renault Rafale is sized to give it a status-symbol aura, its design is vibrant, and it has a powerful personality,’ said Alexis Martot, Renault’s head of exterior design. ‘So, it naturally stands out as the Renault brand’s new flagship.’

Do we have any specs? 

Underpinning the new range-topper is the Renault group’s CMF-CD architecture. Just two powertrains will be offered – both E-Tech petrol-electric hybrids.

Available to order now for first deliveries in July 2024 is the 1.2-litre turbo full hybrid with 197bhp. This, Renault says, will do 60.1mpg and emit just 105g/km CO2, helping to achieve a total claimed range of up to 638 miles.

The combustion engine uses the Miller cycle, has low-pressure exhaust gas recirculation, variable-geometry turbo and a ‘diesel-like’ long stroke design – all in the name of efficiency. The main electric motor contributes 50kW (67bhp) and 151lb ft, essentially doubling the petrol engine’s torque.

A second electric motor acts as a starter generator and powers the clutchless automatic transmission; this motor has 25kW (33.5bhp) and 37lb ft to get the job done. Sounds complicated, and is, and Renault hasn’t always got these systems entirely right. For the Rafale here’s hoping it’s a smooth implementation.

Rafale side

There are four regen modes and this version of the Rafale is front-wheel drive. It will do 0-62mph in 8.9sec and has a top speed of 111mph.

Those seeking higher performance – and perhaps a more dynamic drive – will need to wait a little longer for the 296bhp model, which arrives later in 2024. This Rafale E-Tech 4×4 has, as the name suggests, four-wheel drive.

Higher-spec models also come with ‘4Control Advanced four-wheel steering’, delivering 1 or 5 degrees of rear-axle adjustment, depending on vehicle speed.

What about UK standard kit?

The Renault Rafale comes in three trim levels Techno, Techno Esprit Alpine and Iconic Esprit Alpine.

Standard kit includes 20-inch alloys, automatic headlights, 12.3-inch driver display, 12.0-inch infotainment screen, six-speaker hi-fi, wireless phone charging, dual-zone air-conditioning, front rear parking sensors, reversing camera, and regen paddles on the steering wheel.

Techno Esprit Alpine adds a different wheel design, Esprit Alpine exterior styling, matrix LED headlights and four-wheel steering. On the inside there’s 61 per cent recycled Alcantara upholstery, quilted, perforated and adorned with an illuminated Alpine logo. The front seats are six-way electric with heating, plus massage function for the driver. The rear armrest includes charging ports and moveable arms for holding ‘devices’. You also get a head-up display.

Iconic Esprit Alpine adds the fancy Solarbay glass roof. This uses AmpliSky technology to replace blinds with variable tint, in a manner that’s not been seen on any previous car. There are nine individual segments of Polymer Dispersed Liquid Crystal, enabling four modes – all light, all dark, or split front and rear. You can even control it by voice.

Other Iconic features include logo puddle lamps, electric folding mirrors, 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio, ‘hands-free’ parking, and a 360-degree camera system.

All models have the OpenR infotainment system with Google baked in. Which not only means the Google voice assistant and Google Maps for nav, but also up to 50 apps.

In addition to that, Renault confirms the Rafale will be available with up to 32 bits of ADAS.

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's Digital Editor, F1 and sim-racing enthusiast. Partial to clever tech and sports bikes