THE FRENCH JOIN THE FRAY
Renault launches its version of the Alliance’s bakkie
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-