Thursday 16th November 2017
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First drive: Renault Alaskan. Image by Renault.

First drive: Renault Alaskan
Renault borrows the Nissan Navara to create its own premium pickup.

 



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Renault Alaskan

4 4 4 4 4

The Renault Alaskan joins the growing ranks of pickups that are entering the market. While the segment is nothing new, following the surge in popularity of SUVs, these utilitarian machines are becoming more in vogue with the buying masses. Renault has capitalised on this by nabbing its sister company's model, the Nissan Navara, and adding its own touch to fast-track its way into the market.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Renault Alaskan dCi 190
Price: TBC
Engine: 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, selectable all-wheel drive
Body style: five-seat pickup
Combined economy: 40.3mpg
Top speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 10.8 seconds
Power: 190hp at 3,750rpm
Torque: 450Nm at 1,500- to 2,500rpm

What's this?

Say hello to the Renault Alaskan, the French car maker's entry into the pickup truck market. The robust looking front end is dominated by that oversized diamond badge, while the headlights have those distinctive C-shaped LED daytime running lights that are now carried throughout the Renault range, too. It's a detail that is replicated in chrome around the fog lights in the lower front bumper section, just above the plastic bash guard that is painted to give it a metallic look. However, that nose treatment can't entirely hide the fact that this pickup looks very familiar.

Move further back, and you'll see that the Alaskan is little more than Renault doing some badge engineering on a Nissan Navara. But that's not exactly a bad thing, as the Navara is one of the more civilised pickups on sale today. Renault is also responsible for the pickup's 2.3-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine, which in the case of our test car is the more powerful version. This unit produces 190hp, thanks to the fitment of a second turbocharger. The less potent 150hp engine, which is not yet confirmed for the UK market, makes do with a single blower.

How does it drive?

As with most pickups, you have to approach the Alaskan with the mindset that it's primarily designed as a work vehicle. If you're expecting an ultra-refined SUV-like driving experience, then you best start looking at another segment, as you're unlikely to find it here. But as these workhorses go, the Alaskan is cut from some decent cloth.

Its cabin is functional, but it does have some creature comforts. Higher grade models get leather upholstery, heated seats, cruise control, keyless entry and start along with a seven-inch touchscreen system with Bluetooth and USB connectivity. Add to that satellite navigation, dual-zone climate control and a reversing camera, and there's not much else you would want in a modern car.

One big positive is the fact that unlike the majority of its competitors, the Renault employs a multilink rear suspension setup. This arrangement provides a noticeably smooth ride at lower speeds, especially when that generous one-tonne load bed is empty. It rides over speed humps smoothly where many of its rivals pogo over them.

There isn't quite the same level of refinement attributed to the engine, though. The seven-speed automatic transmission tends to hang on to each gear a little too long before upshifting. This trait is especially evident when you encounter any sort of incline. When working its way through the ratios, shifts are smooth and should you want to take care of it yourself you can select a manual mode that is operated by the gear selector.

Usually, the engine's 190hp is sent to the rear wheels, but four-wheel drive is selectable on the fly, so you can switch between either at speeds of up to 62 miles per hour. As you faster, you do soon find the limitations of the mighty Renault. Wind noise picks up once you start to reach motorway cruising speeds, and there is a fair bit of body roll in the bends. The steering doesn't exactly inspire confidence either, with a small bit of play before you start to feel the front end bite. It's a reminder that this isn't a sporty SUV. Buyers considering a vehicle like this are probably keener on the fact that it is rated to tow up to 3.5 tonnes and has a useful load bed that is lined on three sides with rails and tie hooks. Renault will also have a roof section to cover the pickup bed available as an accessory. The engine delivers its 450Nm of torque at a useful 1,500rpm, so there's no lack of low-down grunt.

Unlike the vast majority of urban SUVs, it's more than likely that an Alaskan is going to work or play in the dirt. So it features a 4Lo low-ratio transmission. You'll first need to be in neutral, with your front wheels straight to engage it. Then, even on road tyres in quite muddy conditions, the Renault makes progress at a decent rate, regardless of how much or how little off-road driving experience you have. It also has hill descent control, so you only need to worry about keeping the truck pointed in the direction you want to go in - it takes care of the throttle and braking until you reach level ground.

Verdict

The Renault Alaskan is undoubtedly one of the more civilised pickups we've driven, and when it arrives in the UK market in early 2018 it should create some stiff competition not just with the Navara that it's based on, but some of the other established rivals like the Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux. The Renault's driving performance is good enough; time will tell if a competitive pricing structure will afford it more significant success.

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Exterior Design

3 3 3 3 3 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

3 3 3 3 3 Comfort

2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 2.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Dave Humphries - 17 Oct 2017









  www.renault.co.uk    - Renault road tests
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- Alaskan images

2017 Renault Alaskan drive. Image by Renault.2017 Renault Alaskan drive. Image by Renault.2017 Renault Alaskan drive. Image by Renault.2017 Renault Alaskan drive. Image by Renault.2017 Renault Alaskan drive. Image by Renault.

2017 Renault Alaskan drive. Image by Renault.2017 Renault Alaskan drive. Image by Renault.2017 Renault Alaskan drive. Image by Renault.2017 Renault Alaskan drive. Image by Renault.2017 Renault Alaskan drive. Image by Renault.








 

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