ALASKAN: BAKKIE WITH BEN­E­FITS

The world­wide shift away from tra­di­tional sedans to more ro­bust crossovers and dou­ble cab bakkies is now in full swing, and Re­nault is the lat­est man­u­fac­turer to jump on the band­wagon. Here’s some more in­for­ma­tion on the com­pany’s up­com­ing Alaskan, ex­pect

Leisure Wheels (South Africa) - - NEWS -

Let’s cut straight to the point here: the all-new Re­nault Alaskan, which has been on sale in South Amer­ica since Septem­ber last year, is a Nis­san Navara. In ef­fect then, it is also a Mercedes X-Class. In­deed, the Alaskan is yet an­other bakkie in­car­na­tion based on the Nis­san’s in­no­va­tive coil-sprung rear sus­pen­sion (in­stead of tra­di­tional blades) plat­form.

Al­though the Alaskan’s of­fi­cial press re­lease may wax lyri­cal about “as­sertive di­men­sions and a vis­ual im­pres­sion of power and strength,” it’s all Nis­san Navara un­der the skin. In fact, it’s only the cool front styling that is ob­vi­ously dif­fer­ent to the Nis­san Navara… the side and rear pro­files, if you take away the Re­nault badge, are all Navara.

In Colom­bia, the Alaskan is avail­able only in dou­ble cab guise. So no work­horses or cabs-and-a-half, the Alaskan is a higher-end life­style ve­hi­cle that is aimed at cus­tomers with an ac­tive out­doors life­style. In­ter­est­ingly, in Colom­bia the Alaskan is avail­able only with the old­er­gen­er­a­tion 2.5dCi four-cylin­der tur­bod­iesel that has been do­ing ser­vice in lo­cal Nis­san Navaras for many years.

At the in­ter­na­tional re­veal last year, Re­nault said that the Alaskan dou­ble cab will be avail­able with var­i­ous power trains, with the same 4WD sys­tem used in the Navara. This in­cludes the older 2.5dCi, the cur­rent 2.3 twin-turbo diesel that is used in the Navara, and also a 2.5-litre four-cylin­der petrol engine.

How­ever, we’re mostly likely to get the top twin-turbo 2.3-litre four-pot diesel, like the Euro­pean mar­ket. So there is 140kW of power and 450N of torque, which peaks from 1 500 to 2 500r/min. Trans­mis­sions on of­fer will likely be the same seven-speed au­to­matic and six-speed man­ual units avail­able here, too.

The in­tended po­si­tion­ing of the Alaskan in other in­ter­na­tional mar­kets is noteworthy. Re­nault Aus­tralia says that if the ve­hi­cle is in­tro­duced Down Un­der next year, the Alaskan will be po­si­tioned as a semipremium prod­uct, liv­ing higher up the ‘pre­mium’ lad­der than its cousin, the Nis­san Navara. The com­pany says it plans to sell the Alaskan to older clients (above 60) who in­tend tow­ing with the ve­hi­cle, or use it pri­mar­ily for recre­ational pur­poses.

This is very much the niche the dou­ble cab Volk­swa­gen Amarok has pi­o­neered: a bakkie with ben­e­fits. It has be­come such a spe­cific of­fer­ing that Volk­swa­gen has canned the sin­gle cab derivate, say­ing its cus­tomers much pre­fer the added ver­sa­til­ity and life­style ap­peal of the dou­ble cabs. Clearly Re­nault has taken notes.

The Alaskan is said to have been de­vel­oped in Latin Amer­ica, France and Ja­pan. Two South Amer­i­can man­u­fac­tur­ing plants will pro­duce the Alaskan: one in Mex­ico and the other in Ar­gentina, the lat­ter be­ing where the Amarok is made. A third fa­cil­ity in Spain is also ex­pected to pro­duce the Alaskan.

Ex­pected in South Africa in 2018, the Re­nault Alaskan may be yet an­other sales suc­cess story for bur­geon­ing Re­nault South Africa. That is if the price is right. In Colom­bia, the top Alaskan 2.5 4x4 AT sells for just un­der 136 mil­lion Colom­bian peso, which equates to about R605 000.

Much de­pends on the ex­change rate though, as well as the whole­sale price Re­nault SA will have to fork out for the Alaskan. Fact is, the cur­rent mar­ket is a tough one, and for im­porters such as Re­nault, the ex­change rate -- com­bined with hefty im­port taxes -- is a tough game. Pric­ing will have to be very keen for the Re­nault Alaskan to poach sales from the likes of Hilux, Ranger, KB, Navara and Amarok.

Here’s hold­ing thumbs the Re­nault-Nis­san Al­liance, which re­cently took over the man­tle as the world’s top-sell­ing car com­pany, will hit the Alaskan nail on the head.

Left: The up­com­ing Re­nault Alaskan is a Nis­san Navara is a Mercedes-Benz X-Class. The Alaskan has been on sale in Colom­bia since Septem­ber last year, where it is sold with the older-gen­er­a­tion Nis­san Navara 2.5dCi engine. We’ll most likely get the mod­ern 2.3-litre twin-turbo engine that pow­ers the new Navara

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