The Renolution strategy, within the framework of which this car was also created, involves the consistent unification of the model range. Before the teasers appeared, we assumed that Rafale (the name of the novelty refers to the aircraft hobby of Louis Renault) would be just another variation on the Austral theme, but with a sloping roof, but the look here is completely different – and to someone it will remind cars of another famous French brand.
The fact is that the first full-size cross-coupe in its history was entrusted to Renault to draw Gilles Vidal. Vidal worked at Peugeot until 2020, where he managed to have a hand in the creation of the 208th and a number of other models. Therefore, despite the unification with Austral and Espace (cars share the CMF-CD modular platform), the new cross-coupe looks completely different: for example, a false radiator grille with illuminated diamonds is used here for the first time, and two-level LED headlights.
In the model hierarchy, Renault Rafale will take a place two steps higher than Arkana: in fact, this is a more emotional version of the new Espace flagship. With the same wheelbase length (2740 mm), the cross-coupe is slightly shorter (4710 mm; -12 mm) and lower (1610 mm; -35 mm) of its family counterpart, but wider (1860 mm; +17 mm). The rear track of the Rafale is 40 mm wider at once, because for the sake of better handling the wheels also became thicker (245 mm). The French also reconfigured the shock absorbers and anti-roll bars, but did not reduce the ground clearance (180 mm). The range of rims will be several options with a diameter of up to 20 inches.
The rear window was able to be positioned at an angle of only 17 °, which eliminated the need for an unprepossessing wiper. At the same time, the space above the heads of those sitting on the back sofa became only slightly smaller: 880 mm versus 892.
If the base Espace has a torsion beam on the rear axle, then Rafale will offer a “multi-link” in any of the versions. The first to enter the market is a front-wheel drive hybrid modification based on a 1.2-liter “turbo engine” (130 hp, 205 Nm) operating on the Miller cycle with a starter-generator (25 kW, 50 Nm) and a traction electric motor (50 kW, 205 Nm). The latter is installed behind the three-shaft transmission housing and is powered by a 2 kWh lithium-ion battery. The peak return of the installation is 200 l. With.
Dynamic characteristics have not yet been made public, but the heavier Espace with such equipment is able to gain a “hundred” in 8.8 seconds and accelerate to 175 km / h. It’s reasonable to assume that the Rafale will be a little quicker, especially since its claimed combined fuel consumption is slightly higher than that of the Espace: 4.7 l / 100 km.
For a surcharge, you can choose the rear axle 4Control Advanced with electromechanical actuators. At low speeds, they turn the wheels in the opposite direction relative to the front ones by up to 5 °, so that the turning radius is only 10.4 m. If you accelerate a little (but not faster than 50 km / h), the rear wheels will start working in unison with the front wheels more stability in corners.
Over time, an all-wheel drive hybrid version will debut with an additional electric motor on the rear axle, which can be charged from a power outlet. It is known that its peak return will be 300 hp. s., but other characteristics are still classified.
The plug-in hybrid (right diagram) will have an additional electric motor and a larger capacity traction battery.
The front of the Rafale is almost identical to the Austral and Espace. In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch instrument panel, and to the right of it is a 12-inch OpenR multimedia system tablet with built-in Google services and voice control. The handle on the central armrest is screwed tightly and does not control anything: the transmission selector is located on the steering column. In expensive trim levels, there will be a 9.3-inch projection display and a Harman Kardon audio system.
For the sake of Rafale, the French have updated the Android Automotive operating system to the twelfth version (on other modern models, the tenth is still installed), so connecting phones via Bluetooth and using the menu should become easier. The equipment will include a total of 32 electronic assistants, including adaptive cruise control with traffic sign recognition and lane keeping.
Eco-friendly materials were used for interior decoration, including cork and slate. The rear sofa is devoid of a “sled”, so the trunk volume is fixed (647 liters). At the disposal of passengers of the second row there is a tricky armrest. It provides two USB connectors and a compartment for storing wires, and along with recesses for glasses, holders for a smartphone are molded in plastic.
The optional panoramic roof (1470 x 1117 mm) is devoid of a curtain, but Renault is sure that this is even good. This managed to gain 30 mm more space above the heads of the rear passengers, but the main thing is that the electrochromic roof is divided into two sections, the degree of transparency of which can be controlled separately, using a switch or a voice command. For example, the driver can shield himself from excess light while the rear passengers enjoy the sun. If you close the car, the system will automatically darken the roof to keep the interior cool.
At the end of the price list will be the Alpine version – this Rafale will be the first Renault car to be painted in Alpine Blue from the factory (pictured). However, the French specify that the cross-coupe will have it somewhat darker than the Alpine A110 two-door. Another new color in the palette will be pearl white, and a total of five shades will be available for Rafale.
In order to reduce costs, the assembly of the cross-coupe will be set up at a plant in the Spanish Palencia – under the same roof with the Austral and Espace platforms. Sales of the 200-horsepower front-wheel drive version will begin in the spring of 2024, followed by a more powerful plug-in hybrid. According to rumors, the initial price tag of Rafale will be in the region of 50 thousand euros, which will help Renault avoid direct competition with the Big German Three models.