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Renault Alaskan concept previews new pick-up truck

Renault Alaskan concept previews new pick-up truck

Renault Alaskan concept previews new pick-up truck

Renault has revealed a new concept vehicle previewing a pick-up truck set to be unveiled early next year.

The Renault Alaskan concept features a one-tonne payload and aggressive looks – enhanced by chunky 21-inch wheels and a purposeful stance.

Renault’s senior vice-president, corporate design, Laurens van den Acker, said: “The styling of the Alaskan Concept sticks to the rules of the pick-up segment, including impressive dimensions and a visual sense of power and robustness. At the same time, we have dialed in specific Renault cues in the form of an attractive, status-enhancing front-end design.”

The Alaskan is powered by Renault’s twin-turbocharged, four-cylinder diesel engine used in the Master van range.

The manufacturer says the Alaskan draws on its experience with crossovers such as the Captur to combine practicality for business users with demands from private buyers.

It hopes to cement Renault’s success in the commercial vehicle market across Europe – with a platform that will be shared with Nissan and Mercedes-Benz.

Nissan’s version of the pick-up truck, the NV300 Navara, is set to debut at the Frankfurt motor show later this month.

Renault Talisman

Renault Talisman Estate revealed – but it is NOT for Britain

Renault TalismanRenault has revealed a stylish estate version of its new Talisman large car – but confirmed once again there are no plans to sell it in the UK: the firm won’t even build it in right-hand drive.

Debuting at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, the large new Renault rival to the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia is a big car (it’s nearly 4.9 metres long) but this pays off inside: it has almost 1,700 litres of boot space with the seats down.

Even with the seats up, there’s 572 litres of space and the total load length stretches to more than two metres.

Renault even offers a foot-operated electric tailgate for the new Talisman Estate.

Renault Talisman

The firm is claiming class-leading interior space, with the estate getting even more headroom in the back plus new ‘Cover Carving Technology’ seatbacks that liberate an extra 30mm of rear kneeroom.

Massaging front seats are offered, they can be ventilated, and even the headrests are ‘aviation-style’ and adjust in six ways.

Outside, Renault’s fitted aluminium roof bars and chrome-edged side windows: the subtle kick in the rear windowline is a neat touch and the rakish rear is smart.

Renault Talisman

Although the large family car D-sector market has declined over the years, it still accounts for more than one million annual sales across Europe, says Renault.

Estates are actually more important than saloons, taking 54% of overall volumes: that’s why it’s been so quick to launch the new Talisman Estate.

Underneath, it has 4Control four-wheel steer and active damping tech, plus familiar TCe petrol and dCi diesel engines.

See it for the first time at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show next month. But, Mondeo-owning Brits, don’t get too excited…

2015 Renault Talisman revealed – but not for the UK

2015 Renault Talisman revealed – but not for the UK

2015 Renault Talisman revealed – but not for the UK

Renault has revealed for the replacement for its Laguna ahead of its official unveiling at the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.

However, the French carmaker has insisted that the Talisman won’t be sold in the UK.

In a statement, Renault said the Talisman would go on sale in Europe later in the year, but “there is no current plan for Talisman to be sold in the United Kingdom or Ireland.”

Renault axed the Laguna alongside a number of other unprofitable models early in 2012.

The large family car market, which also features the Ford Mondeo and Vauxhall Insignia, has been waning in recent years – with crossovers and SUVs taking up the slack in sales.

2015 Renault Talisman revealed – but not for the UK

The Tali… Talis… Taliswhat?

Renault has decided to move on from a name synonymous with touring cars, safety and, er, unreliability with its Laguna-replacement.

We’ll let the boys in France explain: “Renault selects names for its models that symbolise their design and personality across all markets where they are sold. True to this tradition, the Talisman has been given a charismatic name that conjures up notions of both protection and power. At the same time, Talisman is an easy word to pronounce and is understood the world over.”

Er… essentially ‘Talisman’ sounds more robust than ‘Laguna’. And, as Renault already sales a model in China with the same name, it’s a badge that works internationally.

What powers the Renault Talisman?

Buyers of the Renault Talisman will get a choice of two petrol and three diesel engines. In a bid to move upmarket, the TCe petrol engines will be available exclusively with automatic gearboxes and with power outputs of 150 and 200hp.

The diesel units are likely to be the bigger sellers, available with 110 and 130hp, as well as the same twin-turbocharged 160 unit as the Espace. The lower-powered diesel emits just 95g/km CO2 when paired with the manual gearbox.

2015 Renault Talisman revealed – but not for the UK

What else do I need to know about the Renault Talisman?

Renault has muttered a lot of stuff about ‘fluidity’ and ‘tucked in’ lines, but all we know is the Talisman looks pretty damn good. The front-end is similar to that of the new Megane, while the rear could be from a much more premium manufacturer.

There’s a big boot, while high-end models will get an 8.7-inch infotainment display. There’s no denying the Talisman sounds much more premium than its predecessor – with talk of massaging seats, BOSE speakers and electronic damper control.

But is it enough to convince buyers? If Renault decided to sell the Talisman in the UK, would you buy it?

Renault Wind

Renault trumped! Why the Wind failed to set sail

Renault WindIt probably wasn’t Renault’s plan to name one of its cars after a mildly unpleasant human condition, but the condition in question was what some people thought of when the Wind was mentioned.

Which is a shame, because wind of the wind-in-the-hair kind was what this dinky little Renault was supposed to be about. A completely reskinned and rather stylish two-seat machine based on the Twingo, the Wind also benefitted from RenaultSport tuned suspension.

It was a combination that promised some satisfyingly deft moments on country backroads, especially as both the engines offered were decently perky devices, one a turbocharged 1.2 of 100PS, the other a 133bhp variably-valve timed 1.6.

The Wind’s cool roof

Renault Wind

But the most intriguing thing about the Wind was its roof. Hinged at the rear, it would perform a 180 degree flip into the boot as an encore to the near-dizzying rise of its long rear deck lid, which lifted near-vertically to accommodate the Wind’s top.

Renault Wind

The whole process was automated and took only 12 seconds, although you needed to be stationary for the car to perform its lightly spectacular transformation.

Renault Wind

 

And this design avoided the humiliating surprise potentially suffered by occupants of Ferrari’s limited edition 550 Barchetta, whose flip-back roof simply folded onto the car’s bootlid. Come the sudden downpour, that rain-collecting lid could part-fill before spilling its contents over your head as you closed the car from the rainstorm above.

The Wind’s system was much better thought-through and would doubtless have been more expensive to make too, even if it was less complex than the folding roof of your traditional cabriolet.

Not cheap to develop

Renault Wind

The entire Wind project can’t have been cheap to develop, in fact. Not only were no exterior panels shared with the Twingo, but neither was its interior, the car getting a bespoke dashboard, centre console and door trims.

It was just the kind of intriguing niche derivative that journalists often chivvy manufacturers to build, rave over briefly at launch, and then forget about. Your reporter is among the guilty.

And there was quite a lot to rave about. The Wind’s low weight – just 1173kg as a 1.6 – and well-sorted suspension produced an entertainingly nimble drive, its agility heightened by its small scale and relative peppiness.

In some ways the 1.2 turbo was the better buy, this engine generating barely any less torque than the 1.6, and earlier in the rev range. Carefully weighted, well-placed pedals, a slickety-snick gearchange and revvy engines made a modest entertainer of this Renault, even if it wasn’t blazingly fast.

Cool Wind

Renault Wind

Windy downsides? Despite being an open-top car, this Renault’s curiously high flanks, big and steeply raked windscreen and small roof meant that you didn’t feel particularly exposed to the sky above, even if you dropped the windows.

Its steering was a bit too numb, the 1.6 motor needed a lot of revving to give its best and the road noise yelling from its mildly fat tyres could be enough to have you longing to get out. The will to escape was not countered especially strongly by the Wind’s interior, either.

Renault Wind

It may have been bespoke, and flaunted an instrument binnacle shrouding some rather sexy dial shrouds, but the low-grade plastics surfacing much of its cabin were almost as disappointingly as the steering wheel, which could have come from one of Renault’s vans.

But for all that it was quite an agreeable car, a lot more fun than your average cabrio on the right roads, and it looked pretty different. Renault launched the Wind in the middle of the summer of 2010 with prices starting from £15,500 and a range of no less than six models, later expanded when the GT Line and Gordini were added.

That turned out to be a lot of derivatives for relatively few buyers, the Wind’s life abruptly cut short by the sales and profitability crisis engulfing Renault UK during 2011.

Wound up

Renault Wind

A persistently unfavourable pound-to-euro exchange rate meant that models had either to be sold at a loss-making competitive price, or the reverse. And the effect was to trigger a sharp decline in sales and profits, prompting Renault’s UK managers to initiate a rather brutal cull of their range.

All the company’s low volume models were to be deleted, including several supposedly high-volume cars that weren’t, like the Laguna, Modus and Kangoo, besides the niche Wind and Espace.

So early in 2012, after not much more than 18 months on sale, Renault’s unusual sports two-seater had gone from the UK, and would only live another year in mainland Europe, being deleted in June 2013.

The result was that the Wind made as much impact on the British car market as the softest zephyr nuzzling a doldrum-marooned yacht. Only 2300-odd were sold, because the Wind’s UK life was cut short.

An ill Wind

Renault Wind

Like many specialty models it was a bit of a firework car, sales climbing high at first, only to fall to earth like a spent rocket. You could see that in its sales graph, the Wind initially registering around 300 sales per month, then 200, then 100 by the end of 2012. So it was already fading out when it was dropped.

That Renault also terminated around a third of its dealers around this time can’t have helped, but neither did the Wind’s slightly effete look, which ran counter to its more dynamic innards. It was not a bloke’s car, and that closed it off to plenty of sales.

Now it’s almost forgotten, unsurprisingly given that the already small pool (or should be whirl?) of 2300 Winds is now being reduced by attrition. You don’t often see one.

For Renault the Wind was ultimately an ill one (sorry), but the good news is that the company has not been discouraged from selling niche models, the next to arrive stemming from the rebirth its sporting Alpine marque.

Renault RCI Bank

You can now bank on Renault (and earn 1.5% interest)

Renault RCI BankRenault’s own finance company, RCI Banque, has launched a brand new savings arm in the UK called RCI Bank – making it the only car company to also compete in the UK savings market.

The new bank has rolled out a flagship savings product too: a ‘best buy’ easy access savings account that offers 1.5% AER interest.

The Freedom Savings Account has a starting balance of £100 and people can invest up to £1 million into it. There are no penalties, notice periods or tiered rates either, adds Renault: it’s a genuinely easy access product.

It’s not the only product the new ‘Renault Bank’ is going to launch either: a full range of products will be rolled out over the next year.

“Saving money should not be difficult,” said RCI Bank CEO Steve Gowler “We believe we have a product that people will love.

“We also have the added benefit of being part of a global group, working for Renault and Nissan brands, and we are committed to using our strength to deliver the very best savings accounts and security for our customers in the UK.”

All Renault and Nissan finance is provided by RCI Banque – and British savings in the UK RCI Bank arm are guaranteed by the French scheme FGDR to a vale of €100,000.

Keen savers will have to be quick though: the 1.5% offer is a launch special and won’t be available for long.

Act fast, then, if you’re one of the millions in the UK who have up to €160 billion in savings accounts earning 0.5% or less…

New Renault Kadjar and the five crossovers it needs to beat

01_CrossoversThe crossover conundrum

Not to be confused with cross dressers, crossovers combine the affordable running costs of a hatchback with the pumped-up, steroidal styling of an SUV. The phenomenon was kick-started by the original Nissan Qashqai in 2006 and has proved irresistible to buyers. Crossovers now account for nearly a third of medium-sized car sales in Europe.

Unsurprisingly, other car manufacturers have been quick to follow Nissan’s lead, meaning an ever-growing degree of choice. There really is something for everyone here. We start our round-up with the latest contender for the crossover crown, the new Renault Kadjar. Then we look at five key rivals it needs to beat – including, of course, the ubiquitous Nissan Qashqai.

02_CrossoversRenault Kadjar

Best for: latest crossover on the block

The Qashqai proved that having an odd name is no barrier to sales sucess. That bodes well for the Kadjar, which is apparently named after the French terms for ‘quad’ and ‘agility’. So now you know. Renault’s new crossover shares its platform and engines with the Nissan, so it’s an oddly familiar package – albeit one wrapped in distinctive and rather handsome styling.

Inside, the Kadjar is spacious and very practical, with a larger boot than its Japanese cousin. The efficient 110hp 1.5 diesel engine is likely to be the bestseller. It emits just 99g/km of CO2 (low enough for free car tax), even if you opt for the automatic gearbox. There’s also a 130hp 1.6 diesel – available with four-wheel drive – and a 130hp 1.2 turbo petrol. The latter is much cheaper to buy than the diesels, and probably the best option unless you cover a high annual mileage. The Kadjar goes on sale in July, priced from £17,995.

03_CrossoversNissan Qashqai

Best for: all-round crossover competence

On paper, the concept of a crossover doesn’t make much sense. They’re heavier, slower, less efficient and probably don’t handle as well as a hatchback with the same engine. Yet spend a few hours – or indeed a few years – with the sector-defining Qashqai and it’s easy to see its appeal. For starters, it looks great, with just enough SUV attitude to get your neighbours talking. That boxy body also means plenty of interior space, plus the high seating position provides a better view of the road.

The Qashqai is easy to drive and very refined. Its engines are almost inaudible when cruising and the suspension smoothes out potholes and speed humps. The 115hp 1.2 petrol is competent and good value, but the gutsier 110hp 1.5 diesel is the best all-rounder. It returns a claimed 74.3mpg and tax-dodging CO2 emissions of 99g/km. Nissan no longer sells a seven-seat Qashqai+2. You’ll have to trade up to the larger X-Trail if you have more than three children.

04_CrossoversSkoda Yeti

Best for: driver appeal

It isn’t just the Top Gear boys who rave about the Skoda Yeti. This rugged crossover always scores well for owner satisfaction in the Which? Car Survey, and has finished first in the Auto Express Driver Power survey on two occassions. That’s partly because the Yeti is great to drive, with nimble handling that’s definitely more ‘car’ than ‘SUV’. It’s also due to the Skoda’s superb practicality; despite being smaller than many rivals, its slab-sided lines mean a useful, box-shaped boot. You can even remove the rear seats altogether.

We’re big fans of the 110hp 1.2 TSI petrol engine, which revs eagerly and is cheaper to buy than the 1.6 and 2.0 diesels. Fuel economy is a respectable 51.4mpg, with CO2 emissions of 128g/km – and those figures are identical if you choose Skoda’s excellent DSG semi-automatic gearbox. Like its mythical namesake, four-wheel-drive versions of the Yeti are surprisingly capable off-road. Outdoor versions look the part, too, thanks to skid plates and chunkier bumpers.

05_CrossoversSuzuki SX4 S-Cross

Best for: value for money

Suzuki is a small player in the UK market and its cars can be hit or miss. The SX4 S-Cross, though, is definitely the former – especially when you take price into account. It starts from a whisker under £14,000, which buys you a 120hp 1.6 petrol in entry-level SZ3 spec. A well-equipped 120hp 1.6 diesel SZ5 is much pricier – at nearly £23,000 – but that’s still at least £3,000 less than a similar-spec Qashqai. Allgrip four-wheel drive is a £1,800 option.

If you want a crossover to stand out from the crowd, the Suzuki probably isn’t for you.  It’s blander than the other cars here, with fewer SUV styling cues. The interior won’t win any design awards either, but it is roomy and practical. The S-Cross also drives pretty well, with direct steering and a lively diesel engine.

06_CrossoversCitroen C4 Cactus

Best for: head-turning style

Whether you find its space-age style beguiling or bemusing, there’s no denying the Citroen C4 Cactus looks like nothing else on the road. Its most distinctive feature is the Airbumps on the doors, which protect from parking dings and come in a range of contrasting colours. The Cactus is just a radical inside, with a minimalist dashboard and optional sofa-style seats. It is on the small side for a family car, though, and it has obviously been built to a budget (the rear seat only folds in one piece, for example).

On the road, the Cactus is set up for ride comfort rather than sporty handling. This isn’t a car that likes to be rushed. Fuel economy is impressive – the BlueHDi diesel promises a remarkable 91.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 82g/km. And it’s hard to argue with the Citroen’s starting price of just £12,990.

07_CrossoversHonda CR-V

Best for: space and reliability

When does a crossover become an SUV? We’re not sure, but Honda’s ‘Compact Recreational Vehicle’ is certainly one of the larger cars in its class. That brings great benefits in terms of interior space and versatility – the boot is simply huge – but CR-V isn’t cheap to buy (prices start at £22,345). It is reliable, though. The petrol-engined CR-V was rated the most reliable 4×4 in the latest Which? Car Survey.

That said, we’d opt for the excellent 1.6-litre diesel, which comes in 120hp and 160hp outputs. Fuel economy for the 110hp version with two-wheel drive is 64.2mpg, with 115g/km CO2. The CR-V isn’t sporty to drive and its light steering offers little feedback. However, it’s comfortable, stable and safe. All versions come with city emergency braking, which can prevent low-speed shunts by slamming on the brakes if it detects a collision is imminent.

 

Renault Kadjar review: 2015 first drive

01_Renault KadjarRenault Kadjar: Overview

You may have heard that the Scrabble dictionary was updated recently. New words including ‘twerking’, ‘shizzle’ and ‘ridic’ can now earn you points or perhaps even a triple-word score. One word that’s conspicuously absent from the Scrabble lexicon, though, is ‘crossover’. And that’s surprising, because these high-rise hatchbacks are fast becoming the most popular type of new car. Indeed, Renault says that one in five cars sold around the world today is a crossover.

It seems odd, therefore, that Renault has taken so long to bring a C-segment (VW Golf-sized) crossover to market. Especially since its alliance partner, Renault, launched the wildly successful Qashqai back in 2006. As you’d expect, the Kadjar is closely based on the Qashqai, and it follows the same formula: a roomy five-seat interior wrapped in swoopy, SUV styling.

Buyers have a choice of three engines: 130hp 1.2 TCe petrol, 100hp 1.5 dCi diesel and 130hp 1.6 dCi diesel. A dual-clutch automatic gearbox is available with the dCi 110 engine, while four-wheel drive is offered on higher-spec versions of the dCi 130. All other models drive through the front wheels only. The Kadjar will cost from £17,995 when it goes on sale in July 2015.

Oh, and don’t expect to see the word ‘Kadjar’ in any dictionary soon. It’s an abbreviation of the French terms for ‘quad’ and ‘agility’, apparently. Sadly, it will earn you nul points on a Scrabble board.

02_Renault KadjarRenault Kadjar: On the road

Car manufacturers usually bend over backwards to tell you how ‘sporty’ their new model is, but Renault didn’t use the S-word once during its press conference for the new Kadjar. Instead, the focus was on comfort – surely a higher priority for most crossover buyers than on-the-limit handling.

And yes, the Kadjar is comfortable, although its suspension feels firmer that you might expect. Speed humps and potholes are soaked up smoothly, but the ride feels jittery on uneven road surfaces. The larger 19in alloy wheels of Dynamique S Nav and Signature versions don’t help.

Tackle a twisty road and the Kadjar is competent if hardly, well… sporty. There’s a decent amount of feedback through the chunky, flat-bottomed steering wheel and the six-speed manual gearbox feels slick. Nonetheless, that lofty ride height means a fair degree of body-roll when you push on. You can’t defeat the laws of physics.

Frustratingly, the 110hp 1.5 diesel engine, which is likely to be the bestseller, was not available at the launch. It’s on-paper performance is good, though, with 0-62mph in 11.9 seconds – or 11.7 seconds with the EDC auto gearbox. We tried the 130hp 1.2 petrol first, which hits 62mph in 10.1 seconds. An audible turbo whistle when accelerating lends it some character, yet it’s also smooth and very refined at speed. The 130hp 1.6 diesel (10.5sec) is noisier, but its extra mid-range punch is welcome on the open road. However, the price premium makes this engine difficult for most buyers to justify (see Verdict for more details).

03_Renault KadjarRenault Kadjar: On the inside

Inside, the Kadjar has a high driving position that allows you to literally look down on other road users. Unless they’re also driving crossovers, of course. The well-padded seats are very comfortable, although we found the pedals were offset to the right in our (left-hand-drive) test cars.

Its stylish dashboard is dominated by a large digital speedo and – in our car – flashes of tasteful carbonfibre-look trim. The quality of the plastics won’t worry the premium brands, though. Renault’s R-Link 2 touchscreen media system is standard on all but entry-level versions, and is a marked improvement on the original version. You can swipe between screens like an iPad and download a wide range of apps. Unfortunately, its relatively low position means taking your eyes off the road to use it.

The Kadjar is slightly bigger than its sister Qashqai, which translates into enough rear-seat space for three adults (or two adults in comfort) and an additional 42 litres of luggage capacity. Its 472-litre volume compares to 316 litres in a Ford Focus and 416 litres in a Skoda Yeti. Better-equipped versions have handles in the boot for one-touch folding of the 60/40-split rear seat, plus there’s an adjustable-height floor to make loading large objects easier. Elsewhere in the cabin, you’ll find plenty of useful stowage space and a front passenger seat that folds forward into a table.

Trim levels start with Expression+, then Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav and Signature Nav. All come with six airbags, cruise control, hill-start assist (to stop you rolling backwards), air conditioning, Bluetooth and a DAB radio. The Dynamique Nav adds sat nav, along with R-Link 2 and automatic lights/wipers. Upgrading to Dynamique S Nav gets you 19in alloys, front and rear parking sensors, and heated door mirrors. And the range-topping Signature Nav comes fully loaded with LED headlights, panoramic sunroof and a thumping Bose audio system.

04_Renault KadjarRenault Kadjar: Running costs

Affordable running costs have been key to the Qashqai’s success. In essence it offers SUV-style without the hefty fuel and car tax bills. The same is true of the Kadjar, which boasts fuel-efficiency on par with many medium hatchbacks.

The economy champion is the 110hp 1.5 diesel, with a claimed 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km (low enough for free car tax). Impressively, those figures stay the same with the EDC automatic gearbox, although you’ll pay a £1,200 premium for choosing it in the first place.

The gutsier 130hp 1.6 diesel returns 65.7mpg and 113g/km, which still equates to annual car tax of just £30 at 2015 rates. Choosing four-wheel-drive (a £1,500 option) cuts economy to 58.8mpg and bumps emissions up to 126g/km, so Renault expects just 8% of Kadjar buyers to do so.

As you’d expect, the 130hp 1.2 petrol is the least efficient of the engines on offer; it manages a respectable 50.4mpg and 126g/km CO2. You’ll need to work it harder than the diesels, though – not a chore, but you’ll be lucky to match those figures in real-world driving.

Predicted resale values for the Kadjar are among the best in the class, which helps reduce overall running costs. Pricing expert CAP says the Renault will retain around 42% of its purchase price after three years and 60,000 miles. Compare that to 39% for a Volkswagen Tiguan, 38% for a Qashqai and just 28% for a Peugeot 3008.

05_Renault KadjarRenault Kadjar: Verdict

Renault had a head-start by basing its crossover on the successful and very capable Nissan Qashqai. And there’s no reason to think the Kadjar won’t be a strong seller, too; it’s practical, comfortable, efficient and competitively priced.

In fact, we think the French car looks and drives better than its Japanese cousin, so perhaps Renault has a winner on its hands. A Volkswagen Golf is ultimately a better medium-sized car, but if you want pumped-up 4×4 styling, the Kadjar should definitely be on your shortlist.

A word of warning when it comes to choosing engines, though. Renault says 80% of buyers will opt for a diesel, but the 1.2 petrol may work out cheaper unless you drive a lot of miles. Assuming you cover 10,000 miles a year, for example, the £3,100 premium for the 130hp diesel over the 130hp petrol would take you 14 years to recover via reduced fuel bills. Even paying £1,900 extra for the 110hp diesel will take six years to claw back.

Renault Kadjar 1.2 TCe Dynamique Nav

Price: £19,695

Engine: 1.2-litre petrol

Gearbox: 6-speed manual

Power: 130hp

Torque: 151lb ft

0-62mph: 10.1 seconds

Top speed: 119mph

Fuel economy: 50.4mpg

CO2 emissions: 126g/km

 

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