Renault will take on the South African bakkie-market directly with its new Alaskan offering. It is mechanically similar to the Nissan Navara and is powered by a Renault-tuned 2.3-litre twin-turbodiesel engine offering 140kW and 450 Nm of torque. A seven-speed automatic or six-speed manual will likely be offered in South Africa and there is a possibility of Renault introducing a 120kW / 403 Nm version of the same engine too, albeit with only one turbocharger. Pricing and specification are yet to be determined. The Alaskan’s load box stretches over 2.46m2, the tailgate platform can endure up to 500kg and the ground clearance is 230mm.
According to Renault South Africa, the Alaskan is set for introduction in South Africa in the second half of 2018, although local prices and specifications will only be finalised closer to the launch date.
However, convincing buyers to consider a new product over tried-and-tested offerings is perhaps the most difficult challenge for any new bakkie joining the local fray, and with double-cab bakkie prices soaring, the gauntlet is well and truly laid down for the Alaskan.
Renault's hidden luxuries:
The front seats (of which the driver’s is heated and eight-way electrically adjustable) are claimed to be inspired by NASA’s “zero gravity” design that sees the occupants’ body mass being evenly distributed over the entire surface of the seat to prevent fatigue and discomfort during long-distance driving.
A centrally-mounted seven-inch touchscreen displays navigational information – along with providing real-time traffic updates for more efficient route-planning – as well as a 360-degree top-down view when parking or needling the Alaskan through tight spaces. In addition, each wing mirror houses a built-in camera whose image can be displayed on the screen; useful during off-road manoeuvres for the driver who sits on one side but requires another pair of eyes on the passenger side.
A secondary five-inch screen is sandwiched between the speedometer and the tachometer and displays, amongst others, information about the fuel consumption and four-wheel-drive settings.
If the Alaskan achieves just one goal, then it’s that despite their agricultural background, the double-cab driving experience increasingly mimics that of road cars with stunning authenticity. And that’s quite an accolade.