New 2023 Renault Rafale launched as flagship coupé-SUV

The second electric motor is an integrated starter-generator that starts the petrol engine, collects energy when the car coasts or brakes and can assist with acceleration when needed. 

This powertrain, electronically governed, doesn’t need a clutch because the car always starts under electric power only, and the meshing of the two-speed dog box is managed by the electric motor. There’s a 2kWh battery under the driver’s seat that allows short-range electric driving. 

No performance figures are offered, but they should broadly match those of the 197bhp Austral, given that Renault engineers estimate the similarly powered Rafale’s kerb weight to be “from 1600kg”.

Renault rafale side static

The 295bhp four-wheel-drive Rafale has the same front-mounted powertrain as the original, but accompanies that with an electrified rear axle that uses a separate electric motor in unit with a rear differential. This model has a much bigger battery and is understood to be a plug-in hybrid with an EV-only range of 30-40 miles.

The Rafale shares its platform, including wheelbase, with the family-oriented Austral and Espace but advertises its greater focus as a driver’s car with 40mm-wider front and rear tracks plus unique spring, damper and anti-roll bar specifications. 

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