THE FRENCH JOIN THE FRAY

Re­nault launches its ver­sion of the Al­liance’s bakkie

Car (South Africa) - - DRIVE -

It’s un­sur­pris­ing that mo­tor man­u­fac­tur­ers are jump­ing onto the bakkie band­wagon. Or should that be load bay? Al­though South Africa has long been a ma­jor mar­ket for dou­ble cabs, the de­mand for life­style bakkies is grow­ing rapidly around the world. Re­nault launched its lat­est ad­di­tion to this highly com­pet­i­tive seg­ment, the Alaskan, not in Alaska, but in Ljubl­jana, Slove­nia. It turned out to be the per­fect lo­ca­tion for the launch of this rugged new­comer, pro­vid­ing a va­ri­ety of driv­ing con­di­tions that in­cluded free­way cruis­ing at the 130 km/h limit, coun­try lanes with moun­tain passes and per­sis­tent rain to test trac­tion.

While it has a close me­chan­i­cal re­la­tion­ship to the Nis­san Navara and Mercedes-benz X-class, the Alaskan’s front-end treat­ment in­cor­po­rates new head­lamps, foglamps and a re­vised grille. The C-shaped styling el­e­ments that have been as­signed to the foglamp sur­rounds and to the LED day­time-run­ning lights have all been tai­lored to Re­nault’s de­sign id­iom. In typ­i­cal lifestyle­bakkie tra­di­tion, a fair amount of chrome bright­work has been added to up the Alaskan’s aes­thetic ap­peal. Thank­fully, this is not over­done and lends it a good deal of visual pres­ence. While the ba­sic shape of the Navara’s brake­lamp clus­ters has been re­tained, a re­work of the lenses and the de­sign of the tail­gate’s met­al­work helps to dif­fer­en­ti­ate the Re­nault from the Nis­san.

As in the Navara, the pow­er­trains com­prise 120 kw sin­gle-turbo and 140 kw biturbo 2,3-litre diesel units mated to a se­lec­tion of six-speed man­ual or seven-speed au­to­matic gear-

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