Renault presented its future SUV coupé on Sunday at the Paris Air Show. The Rafale, the next top-of-the-range model from the diamond brand, has many advantages to impose itself on the highly competitive D-segment market. Here is all the information you need to know.
History will remember that it was on June 18, 2023, as part of the Paris Air Show, that the Rafale answered the call for the first time. The wink of the surname is obvious to aeronautics but do you know that before the well-known fighter plane, the Rafale was above all an aircraft signed Renault released in the 1930s? No plane this time, Renault presented its future high-end coupe SUV expected on French roads from the second quarter of 2024.
After the Austral (2022) and Espace (2023) models, presented in recent months, it is therefore the Rafale which has been unveiled in front of the specialized press. Developed since the fall of 2020, the Rafale will have been entirely designed under the direction of designer Gilles Vidal, defector from Peugeot during the summer of the same year. And it is precisely against the Peugeot 408, among others, that the new flagship of the Renault brand will have to impose itself on the ever more competitive market of SUV. Let’s explore it.
Photos of the Renault Rafale
No need to look for similarities between the Rafale and its predecessors, the Austral and the Space. Although also produced in the Palencia factory in Spain, the latest SUV from the French brand has a new, more modern visual identity. With its very flat bonnet, its protruding edges, its very elaborate diamond grille (of different sizes!) and its slender rectangular headlights – not to mention the boomerang-shaped LED lights integrated into the bumper already seen on the restyled Clio V -, the Rafale offers, by far, the most aggressive face of Renault SUVs. Its front is also reminiscent of that of the Peugeot 3008 designed by a certain…Gilles Vidal.
At the back, there too the features are marked. Like any self-respecting coupé, the stern is very vertical with a largely inclined rear window (at 17 degrees), which enabled the manufacturer to save on the rear windshield wiper. The spoiler, in the extension of the roof, and the small spoiler, at the end of the stern, bring an aerodynamic side to this SUV with a certainly very sporty look. As on the front, the rear lights are very tapered and give the Rafale a sharp look. Finally, the name Rafale appears in the center of the tailgate in lowercase letters and in a rather harmonious calligraphy.
Larger by 20 centimeters than the Austral, the Rafale measures 4m71 in length, just one small centimeter less than the new Renault Espace. Wider (1m86) but lower (1m61) than its two “brothers”, the future high-end SUV of the diamond brand confirms its clean line when viewed in profile. The manufacturer indicates that the tires of the Rafale will be a little wider on the Rafale, which will be fitted with large 20-inch rims on the Esprit Alpine finish, one of the two offered with the Techno finish at the start of marketing.
Difficult to present the Renault Rafale without mentioning its large panoramic roof. As on the Space, the surface of the glass on the future SUV measures no less than 1m2 but benefits from a novelty signed Saint-Gobain. The manufacturer’s technology, a leader in its field, has been baptized SolarBay and makes it possible to opacify all or part of the surface of the window made of liquid crystals and composed of nine segments. By activating a small button, or by simple voice command, the Renault Rafale user will be able to choose how to block out the outside light.
Unlike the exterior, the interior of the vehicle has many similarities with those of the Austral and the new Espace, particularly in terms of the layout of the furniture. Among the novelties, we will note all the same the new graphic dressing of the Renault OpenR Link multimedia system, the steering wheel with a slightly more square shape, or even the sport seats with side reinforcements. And to give even more cachet to its top-of-the-range model, the French manufacturer has used new materials, such as black cork on the dashboard and the sliding handle of the central console for the Techno finish and natural slate for the Esprit Alpine finish.
Renault Rafale engines
No big surprise concerning the engine of the Techno and Esprit Alpine versions with deja-vu at Renault, especially on the Austral. The two models offered at the launch of the SUV at the start of next year will indeed be equipped with the 200 hp E-Tech hybrid engine. But the manufacturer ensures that a new rechargeable hybrid engine (PHEV) will complete the offer in the second half of the year, with the combination of the 3-cylinder 1.2 TCE and an electric motor installed at the rear of the vehicle that will allow the coupe SUV to reach a power of 300 hp with all-wheel drive!
When will the Renault Rafale be released?
Presented in June 2023, Renault’s newborn will be a little long overdue. We will have to wait at least nine months to see him invest the roads of France. It is indeed in the spring of 2024 that the high-end SUV of the diamond brand will be delivered to dealerships.
What will be the price of the Renault Rafale?
Designed in two finishes at the start, Techno and Esprit Alpine, the Renault Rafale should cost at least 50,000 euros at the entry level, while a third finish, equipped with the 300 hp hybrid engine, will see the light of day a few months later. At a price certainly much higher (60,000 euros?).