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Renault unveils new Symbioz hybrid SUV. Image by Renault.

Renault unveils new Symbioz hybrid SUV
New model slots in between the Arkana and Austral in the Renault SUV line-up.
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What's all this about?

This is the new Renault Symbioz, designed to broaden the French brandís appeal by sitting somewhere between the Arkana and the Austral in the line-up. Powered by a 1.6-litre hybrid system and offering a massive boot, Renault is hoping the intriguingly named Symbioz will find favour with families and fleet customers alike.

Surely that was the point of the Austral, too?

Well, yes. But the Symbioz is a little shorter than the Austral, to the tune of about 10cm. Weíre expecting the two to join forces in the family SUV market in much the same way as the VW T-Roc and Tiguan models.

Fair enough. So what's going for this one?

Mainly space. With a boot measuring up to 624 litres, the Symbioz is set to be one of the most practical cars in its class. Even the cavernous Skoda Karoq canít match that figure, so few should have any complaints on the space score. But thereís more to practicality than boot space, and Renault will also include sliding rear seats that allow you to trade luggage space for rear legroom, and thereís no load lip, which helps when packing that massive boot. Thereís even 24.7 litres of storage space in the cabin, including a seven-litre glovebox.

Design should be a factor, too, despite the Symbiozís relatively conventional silhouette. Sure, the front end looks a little Vauxhall-ish, but the lines are modern and the car is supposed to look clean and assertive, which weíll allow it. Strangely, we think it looks best from the rear.

What about the hybrid system?

Hold on, weíre getting to that. You're so impatient. Itís quite a complex system, but basically itís a 1.6-litre petrol engine with two hybrid systems running together. Thereís a conventional e-motor that can drive the wheels and is fed by a 1.2kWh battery, and thereís a high-voltage starter-generator that works as a kind of mild-hybrid system. All that drives the front wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox (actually, itís more complicated than that, but letís not go into the engineering thereÖ).

Whatever, you end up with 145hp and the ability to drive on electric power alone, although the powertrain can work in one of 14 different modes to maximise economy. Speaking of which, itís apparently capable of 61.4mpg on the official economy test.

Anything else of note?

Of course. Thereís more than just hybrid tech on board, with a whole host of gadgets in the cabin. Not only is there a power-operated tailgate, but you get a glass sunroof that can be dulled at the touch of a button, eliminating the need for a blind.

The Symbioz also comes with Renaultís OpenR Link media system that uses Android tech and comes with Google functions, including Google Maps navigation and Google Assistant AI technology. And the 10.4-inch touchscreen also comes with the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration systems, allowing for greater cooperation with driversí personal devices.

Thereís safety tech, too, including up to 24 ďnew-generationĒ driver assistance features, and Renault has fitted a 10.3-inch digital instrument display for the driver. For extra customisation, drivers can also press a button to the right of the steering wheel that allows them to toggle pre-selected systems on or off, so they can customise the settings they would like, then access them through that button. Handy if you live down a narrow lane and find lane departure tech irritating.

How much will it cost?

We donít know yet, but Renault has said the order books will open in July, and there will be a three-tier range culminating with the top-end Iconic Esprit Alpine model with some Alpine-inspired sporty design tweaks. We expect to hear more when the car is launched in the UK this summer.

James Fossdyke - 26 Apr 2024

2024 Renault Symbioz Revealed. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Symbioz Revealed. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Symbioz Revealed. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Symbioz Revealed. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Symbioz Revealed. Image by Renault.

2024 Renault Symbioz Revealed. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Symbioz Revealed. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Symbioz Revealed. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Symbioz Revealed. Image by Renault.2024 Renault Symbioz Revealed. Image by Renault.    - Renault road tests
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