Renault has recently introduced its flagship vehicle, the Rafale, in Europe. This hybrid coupe-SUV shares its platform, including the wheelbase, with the family-oriented Austral and Espace models. The Renault Rafale features a distinctive grille, prominent haunches, and a sleek roof design that provides ample headroom for rear passengers while ensuring efficient aerodynamics. Built on the CMF-CD platform, the Rafale fits well within the SUV segment, measuring 4.7 meters in length, 1.61 meters in height, and boasting a wheelbase of 2.74 meters.
In terms of powertrain, the Rafale offers a clutchless hybrid system. The initial release includes a 194hp variant equipped with a 1.2-liter, three-cylinder petrol engine and two electric motors. The front wheels are driven by a 127hp Atkinson Cycle engine through a four-speed automatic gearbox, while a 66hp electric motor is positioned between the engine and the main gearbox, managing the meshing of the two-speed dog box. The second electric motor serves as an integrated starter-generator, responsible for starting the petrol engine, harvesting energy during coasting or braking, and providing additional acceleration when required. The hybrid powertrain operates under electronic control and doesn’t require a clutch, as the car always starts in electric mode.
The Renault Rafale will initially be available as a front-wheel-drive hybrid in Europe, delivering 194hp. However, a four-wheel-drive version with 290hp is also planned. The base model features a 2kWh battery beneath the driver’s seat, enabling short-range electric driving. The 290hp, four-wheel-drive variant retains the front-mounted powertrain but incorporates an electrified rear axle with a separate electric motor and rear differential. This version is expected to be a plug-in hybrid, offering an electric-only range of 48-64km.
Although the Renault Rafale will not be launched in India, Renault is currently selling three models in the country: the Kwid, Triber, and Kiger. However, the Duster name will make a comeback in 2025 with the release of the third-generation Duster. The new Duster will have a more rugged appearance, be geared towards off-road capabilities, and support combustion engines, hybrids, and electric powertrains.
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