Renault aims to broaden its appeal by launching an off-roader based on sister-brand Nissan’s new Navara, James Dallas gets an early preview
Renault has given a first glimpse of its entrance into the one-tonne pick-up marketplace with the unveiling of the Alaskan Concept at an event in Paris.
The brand has confirmed the model, which is based on its alliance partner Nissan’s new Navara, will launch in the UK late next year. The concept vehicle is, according to the French firm, “similar in spirit” and “will feature the same dimensions” as the production version.
There’s no confirmation yet whether the Alaskan name will carry through, though this is a logical presumption, and Renault has also confirmed “a broad range of body types and powertrains will be available”.
Despite this, Renault is keeping its cards close to its chest and Ashwani Gupta, global head of LCVs, would not confirm whether a single-cab or extended-cab derivative would come to Europe and the UK as well as the double-cab bodystyle that will inevitably dominate sales.
The Renault pick-up will be built at two plants. European-bound versions of the truck are likely be assembled at Nissan’s factory in Barcelona, Spain, alongside the Navara and, before the end of the decade, Mercedes’ version of the vehicle, while the three manufacturers’ models destined for the burgeoning Latin American market will be put together at the Renault facility in Cordoba, Argentina.
Renault says the Alaskan, which Gupta describes as being closer to a “show truck” than a concept, is powered by its 2.3-litre, four-cylinder, twin-turbo diesel engine that already features in its Master large van and in the new Navara.
Not surprisingly, the chunky, muscular Alaskan is not dissimilar in appearance to its doner model, the Navara, with its prominent wheel arches and 21-inch wheels.
Its nose, however, is distinctively Gallic with a prominent Renault logo in the centre and C-shaped headlights framing a sculptured, aggressive grille. The brand’s blue and yellow detailing features on the door mirrors, brake callipers, wheel rim centres and tow hook.
Laurens van den Acker, Renault’s senior vice-president corporate design, says: “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 dialled in specific Renault cues in the form of an attractive, status-enhancing front-end design.”
Gupta says the production vehicle that stems from the Alaskan will be “a key asset to increase sales” and insists it will help Renault make the transition from being a multi-regional player, with a presence in 112 countries, into a truly global player, although this assertion is somewhat undermined by his admission that Renault will not launch the model in North America.
Nevertheless, he asserts that while vans tend to vary between localised markets, pick-ups have a more global appeal and attract “similar customers all over the world”.
Renault says the Alaskan is designed to meet the requirements of three distinct market segments: business use, leisure use and everyday motoring.
Its workhorse credentials include a strong chassis, high ground clearance, a payload of more than one tonne and a load bed incorporating three longitudinal recesses suitable for fixing equipment and storage bins either side of the load bed for securing tools.
For leisure, Renault says the load bed can accommodate mountain bikes, camping gear or surfboards and adds that accessories such as load bed liners and covers will also be offered. Additionally, the Alaskan features a camera located inside the door mirror housings, developed in conjunction with Swedish photographic company Hasselblad, which enables the filming of passing landscapes.
For everyday motoring Renault claims the pick-up delivers comfort for five occupants, a high level of equipment and connectivity and modern, urban styling.
Renault will reveal more details of the production model when it is unveiled in the first half of 2016.