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All-new Renault Rafale: A tribute to an illustrious history

 Published 4th August 2023
New Launches 

In the early 20th century Renault was a pioneering manufacturer of combustion engines. In 1933, it took control of Caudron, one of France's very first aeroplane manufacturers, and established Caudron-Renault. The new company's planes were named after notable winds, which meant the C460, a single-seater racing plane engineered to break records, was renamed Rafale in 1934. And now you're wondering where this is going, let us introduce you to a brand new, range-topping coupe SUV: The Renault Rafale.

The name may be borrowed from a 1930s plane but the new Renault Rafale is a thoroughly modern high-end car.

Its slightly raised fastback-style body places the Rafale firmly in the coupe SUV category. Its sporty looks are emphasised by a long horizontal bonnet, chiselled angles, and a new radiator grille and signature light pattern.

It's also got the big wheel arches to accentuate the sense of power and the sloping roofline achieves that trick of looking like it's going really fast even when it's parked. A 2.7m wheelbase also allows for more headroom under the sloping roof, lots of knee room for passengers, and a very roomy 647-litre boot.

The Renault Rafale will launch with the 200bhp E-Tech full hybrid petrol powertrain.

The combination of 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine,  linked to a clutchless multimode automatic transmission, and two electric motors provides a healthy dose of power, economy, and range. It provides the best mpg figures in its segment (60.1 mpg and 105g/km of CO2) and a range that goes all the way up to 683 miles, and because the petrol engine does the battery charging you don't even have to mess around with any cables. At some point Renault will also be introducing a high-performance version with all-wheel drive and 300bhp.

new renault rafale rear

The interior is packed full of technology and comfort to keep the occupants happy on any journey. Big comfy seats covered in luxurious Alcantara; an innovative centre armrest designed for multimedia devices and housing two USB power outlets, storage space for tablets and smartphones, and two foldout screen stands for comfortable viewing; and colour-changing LED lights that can either be programmed or left to run on an automatic cycle that adjusts every 30 minutes with cold colours during the day and warm ones at night.

The highlight of the interior is the new Solarbay panoramic glass roof.

The Renault Rafale is one of the first cars in the world to feature this new technology.

It replaces a standard panoramic roof with a full active system that can darken or lighten each of its segments on demand.

This smart glass roof provides maximum protection from the sun in seconds, can be voice-controlled via Google Assistant and has a switch by the ceiling light to control it manually. You can choose between four roof settings (all light, all dark, light in the front and dark behind, and the reverse) which makes it more practical than a standard sunshade because the passengers in the back can let the sunlight in even if the people in the front prefer not to. It also darkens automatically when you get out of the car to keep the internal temperature comfortable all year round.

The all-new Renault Rafale 200 hp E-Tech full hybrid – to give it its full title – is due to go on sale in spring 2024. It's probably a bit early to start filling out the lease forms just yet but watch this space because when it does go on sale the demand is likely to be quite high.

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