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Renault develops new crossovers

Crossover clue: Renault’s forthcoming compact SUV was previewed by the Captur concept at the 2011 Geneva motor show.

Clio-based crossover and 2015 Koleos set to further revitalise Renault

Renault logo16 Oct 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

RENAULT is catching up on the crossover craze with a duo of fresh compact SUVs in the pipeline due within the next three years – including a replacement for the ageing Koleos.

First cab off the rank will be the long-awaited ‘J87’ B-segment vehicle, using a Nissan-based transverse platform as a starting point, and sharing many components with the just-unveiled X98 Clio supermini.

To be unveiled publically at the next Geneva motor show in early March, the unnamed baby crossover will directly challenge the Ford Fiesta-based EcoSport – which makes its local debut at this week’s Sydney motor show – as well as the Holden Trax, Suzuki SX4, upcoming Peugeot 2008, and Nissan Juke if comes Down Under.

The J87 was previewed as the Captur concept car at the Geneva show in early 2011, featuring a new low-emission 1.6-litre Energy dCi 130 four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine delivering 118kW of power and 380Nm of torque.

In being as light as possible, the baby crossover is expected to come only with front-wheel drive, whereas the upper-spec Juke is all-wheel drive.

35 center imageFrom top: Renault’s head of design, Laurens Van den Acker Holden Trax Ford EcoSport Renault Koleos.

Interestingly, a Renault insider revealed that the J87 will be visibly larger than its modest underpinnings might suggest, and could offer almost as much interior space as the existing Koleos, which is built by Renault Samsung Motors in South Korea and is based on the current Nissan X-Trail/Dualis platform.

This ensures that the second-generation Koleos – expected in 2015 and employing the upcoming Pulsar small car architecture and running gear – will be slightly larger and may even offer a third-row, seven-seat option like the Dualis+.

Renault’s head of design, Laurens Van den Acker, said both crossovers will have to rely on striking design in order to stand out among an ever-increasing number of competitors.

“We are in the midst of creating a full line of crossovers,” he said.

“But unfortunately we are many years too late, so the only hope I have is that, while we will come in late, we will have learnt from all the others’ mistakes and come up with a very good line-up.

“The B Crossover we will do next year – we will not be the first, but we will not be the last. And we will definitely not be the ugliest. So I think that will be a good start.”

Mr Van den Acker also confirmed that Renault would leverage Nissan know-how for the larger of the two compact SUVs.

“The B Crossover will be more European-based … but the other versions in the line-up will definitely work closely with Nissan and definitely benefit from their knowledge in these segments.”

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