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All-new Renault Rafale coupé-SUV debuts

Renault has unveiled a new coupé-SUV - the Rafale hybrid - which is set to arrive in the UK in Spring next year

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Renault has announced that its new Rafale hybrid will go on sale early next year, which the brand says has been designed to offer “optimal driving pleasure”.

Slightly larger than the Renault Arkana coupé-SUV and the recently-launched Austral SUV – which are also offered as hybrids – the Rafale is set to join a very competitive medium crossover class, rivalling the likes of the Citroën C5 X and Peugeot 408.

Built on the same foundations as the popular Nissan Qashqai, this new Renault is said to usher in a new era of exterior design for the French manufacturer, giving us an idea of what the brand’s future models might look like.

The car’s muscular design features a new-look grille with a diamond pattern that forms blue chevrons, framing the Renault branding in the centre. Chunky bumper cladding features front to back, sitting above 20-inch alloy wheels. The car sports a sloping rear roofline that Renault says does not impede rear headroom, and has no need for rear wipers.

Compared with the Austral, the Rafale has slightly wider tracks and some extra suspension and anti-roll bar upgrades, which Renault is hoping will give the model more appeal as a driver’s car.

Stepping inside, the Rafale comes with a 12-inch portrait-oriented infotainment screen with a graphics upgrade, a nine-inch head-up display that projects driving information on the windscreen, the square steering wheel that also features in the Mégane E-Tech and Austral, and a “high-tech” rear armrest with two foldout screen stands for smartphones and tablets.

The SUV’s headline interior feature can be found above – a large panoramic glass roof that the brand calls the ‘Solarbay’. It is designed to provide protection from the sun by darkening automatically, or manually by use of four different light settings. Renault asserts that only luxury car manufacturers have offered this technology so far, and says it will be the first mainstream marque to do so.

The seats are trimmed in Alcantara leather – which is reportedly 61% recycled. Ambient lighting features across the cabin, including the seats, which Renault says light up and flash in sync with a beating human heart.

Available to order in the new year, the Rafale will be powered by the same front-wheel drive ‘E-Tech’ 1.2-litre petrol engine and electric motor setup as the new Austral, providing 200hp and up to a reported 683 miles of travel on a full tank.

A four-wheel drive 300hp version is also in the works and scheduled to arrive later in 2024, which will reportedly be a plug-in hybrid model with a much larger battery. This model will also come with a chassis upgrade, offering more comfort in high-speed corners.

Like other model’s in Renault’s current line-up, the range will be topped by a ‘esprit Alpine’ trim, which adds a unique stitching pattern to the seats. We are sure to learn more about the Rafale’s trims and UK pricing in the coming months. Currently in its last phase of testing, the coupé-SUV will be manufactured in Spain.

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Sean Rees
Sean Rees
Sean is the Deputy Editor at The Car Expert. A enthusiastic fan of motorsport and all things automotive, he is accredited by the Professional Publishers Association, and is now focused on helping those in car-buying need with independent and impartial advice.