Development work on Renault’s new large crossover to rival the Nissan X-Trail is gathering pace in China, with local-market production slated to begin in September at the recently opened Wuhan plant created with joint-venture partner Dongfeng.
The Wuhan plant - officially opened on 1 February – is in the process of ramping up production of the Renault Kadjar, and the same facility will handle the build of the larger model too. At Wuhan, the D-segment SUV is codenamed HZJ, following the project naming strategy of the Kadjar which was known as HZH during its development phase.
A Dongfeng Renault representative from the new Wuhan plant suggested that production of the D-segment SUV could start as soon as September, which is in line with comments made by Renault design boss Laurens van den Acker, who last year stated that: "The D crossover is developed and will be produced in China in 2016, and there is a chance it will come to Europe as well.”
The new crossover is almost certain to come to Europe, but versions destined to come here are likely instead to come from another production facility in the Renault group, most likely at the Busan plant in South Korea, with the new Chinese plant building vehicles solely for its home market.
The as-yet unnamed model shares tech with the Nissan X-Trail, on the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s Common Module Family (CMF) platform. The car will sit above the newly launched Kadjar in the French firm's line-up.
The new machine was captured by Autocar’s spy photographer last year. While the camouflaged test car gave little away about the SUV's styling, although it's expected to take some styling cues from the Kadjar.
In the pictures, a prominent Renault badge and grille can be seen at the front, while some plastic body cladding can also be seen around this test mule's lower edges.
Although the X-Trail is available in both five and seven-seat forms, Renault's large crossover will start out by offering five seats only. As with the Kadjar, the car's cabin is expected to feature a digital instrument cluster and will come with the latest version of Renault's R-Link infotainment system.
European engines for the new model will be lifted from the X-Trail range and will include the same 1.6-litre turbodiesel already offered in the Nissan Qashqai and Kadjar. The 1.6 DIG-T engine from the Nissan Juke Nismo should also be offered. Like the X-Trail, the new crossover will be offered with a choice of front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive in Europe.
As well as the X-Trail, rivals for the new large crossover in Europe include the Hyundai Santa Fe and the Kia Sorento.