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[NEWS] New 2023 Renault Rafale inbound as rakish hybrid flagship

New 2023 Renault Rafale inbound as rakish hybrid flagship

2023 Renault Rafale side profile silhouette

Austral-based SUV-coupé, named after a famous racing plane, will crown the Renault line-up

Renault is going after the Peugeot 408 with a new rakish coupé-crossover called the Rafale.

Based on the new Renault Austral SUV's CMF-CD platform, the new "high-end" hybrid SUV will be revealed on 18 June at the Paris air show, before going on sale later this year.

Unlike the Austral-based, seven-seat Espace, the Rafale is expected to come to the UK - and looks set to be the most expensive model in the Renault line-up when it lands, eclipsing the Austral's recently confirmed £35k start price.

It will be available exclusively as a hybrid, and no doubt that means it will come with the same petrol-electric set-up as its straight-backed sibling, combining a 1.2-litre triple with an electric motor and a 1.7kWh battery for up to 196bhp and 148lb ft, and the capacity for electric-only driving over short distances.

The Austral is also available with a 1.3-litre petrol mild-hybrid motor, but Renault has confirmed the Rafale will be an 'E-Tech' offering only - a badge it uses for its full hybrids and pure-EVs.

The new flagship is also set to be offered in performance-inspired Esprit Alpine guise, which will bring bespoke, large-diameter wheels and a raft of upmarket trim and material elements.

It remains to be seen whether the Rafale will be dynamically differentiated from the Austral in line with its premium billing. Like the new Espace and the upcoming Renault Scenic, the Rafale brings back a name from Renault's past, albeit a less familiar one.

The original Rafale was a single-seater racing plane manufactured by Renault-owned aviation firm Caudron in the early 1930s.

Sylvia Dos Santos, in charge of naming new models at Renault, said: “Few people are aware that the name ‘Rafale’ belongs to Renault and is part of the brand’s history. Today, we are using it to name a vehicle for the very first time.”

She added: “The name ‘Rafale’ immediately brings to mind technology, performance and a sense of daring, as well as driving pleasure and agility.

“It is a thoroughly meaningful name that draws on our history while perfectly evoking the positioning of our future upmarket SUV-coupé. I am sure that a promising future awaits Rafale, alongside the other vehicles in the Renault range.”

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