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
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