An invitation to travel
Southern. Behind this word, which sounds like an invitation to travel in the South Pacific, hides a… SUV. It is indeed the new name of the latest Renault model. According to the French manufacturer, the choice of this name is not accidental, as it should evoke “the liveliness and warmth of the south, the peaceful enjoyment of nature and the outdoors†
Following the recent launch of the Mégane E-tech Electric, the Renault Austral is Renaulution’s second flagship, a new strategy promoted by Luca de Meo, CEO of the diamond company. This is for the French manufacturer to emphasize the compact segment. This also seems to be a good start when we look at the sales of the Arkana.
Even before it arrives in the concessions, the Austral is already under pressure: it will be given the arduous task of replacing the Kadjar, whose sales have not weighed heavily against the juggernaut of the C-SUV segment, namely the Peugeot 3008.
Despite a (great) family resemblance to the new Mégane E-Tech Electric and the fact that it uses the same rear light strip, the Renault Austral has long been conceived and designed. The inspiration partly comes from the Captur, of which we find the “C” shape of the rear lights.
Like the Nissan Qashqai, the new Austral is based on the CMF-CD platform, which was inaugurated in 2021. Incidentally, this architecture allows the use of steered wheels at the rear (up to 5 degrees). At 4.51 m long, 1.83 m wide and 1.62 m high, the SUV pays tribute to the design “sensual technology“: a mix of curves and clean lines for a muscular silhouette.
The exterior design is characterized by an XXL grille, highlighted at each end by LED headlights with diamond patterns that give a special light signature. Among the few distinguishing elements, let’s also note a checkered underside that can also be found in the lower part, at the height of a sports top, matching the rest of the bodywork reminiscent of that of the Mégane E-Tech.Electric. The mounting is accompanied by aerodynamic side vents.
Two other points deserve attention. The first is the new logo, called Nouvel’R, whose black color, called Brushed Satin Chrome, predominates. This new logo, discreetly launched, is to embody the new wave of Renaulution. The second distinguishing feature is the hollowed-out bonnet which gives a sporty and muscular look.
Work has also been done on the profile, with the presence of many folds and edges that become more or less visible depending on the chosen color. This is especially the case with the “Alpine Spirit” finish in matt grey. The line of the roof, embellished with a shark antenna, dives sharply on an aerodynamic rear spoiler.
The taillight signature also reinforces the Austral’s identity with a C-design, identical to the Captur, which joins the logo above the name. On the other hand, the underside is not particularly worked.
A high-tech and modular cabin
When you climb aboard the Austral, you get a feeling of deja vu. Logical, since we find the same communicating architecture as the Mégane E-Tech Electric, namely OpenR.
It consists of a double L-shaped screen (L-shape) consisting of a 12.3-inch instrument panel (diagonal from 31.24 cm – definition of 1920 x 720 pixels) and a touchscreen oriented in portrait mode from 12 inches (diagonal from 30.48 cm – definition of 1250 x 1562 pixels). The whole is controlled by the OpenR Link multimedia system that runs on Android Automotive.
Also note the head-up display (HUD) in English, 9.3 inches (23.62 cm diagonal)
But the Austral is distinguished by a huge center console that has a large sliding palm rest, just to relax your wrist as you type on the touchscreen. That console houses quite a few deep slots, such as that intended for inductive charging of the smartphone. In total, the Renault Austral offers up to 35 liters of storage space.
The boot volume offers 500 dm3 (VDA) in the Mild Hybrid and Mild Hybrid Advanced versions, against 430 dm3 (VDA) in the E-Tech Hybrid version and even 575 dm3 (VDA) or 555 dm3 (VDA) in the E- version -Tech Hybrid thanks to the sliding seat (2/3 – 1/3). Once folded, the total boot capacity increases to 1525 dm3 (VDA) or 1455 dm3 (VDA) in the E-Tech Hybrid version. Note that each part can slide individually by 16 cm.
As for the three passengers in the back, the Austral SUV offers one of the best livability, according to Renault. Thereby, “the knee room is 27.4 cm and the headroom is over 90 cm. The well-thought-out rear seat angle keeps the heels flat and the knees don’t lift, a real plus for comfort on long rides†
Hybridization and microhybridization or nothing
Exit diesel, the Renault Austral will only be offered with electrified engines. The Renault Austral is available in different hybridisations: Mild Hybrid, Mild Hybrid Advanced and E-Tech Hybrid.
First engine with the Mild Hybrid, available in two power levels, 140 or 160 hp. Under the hood is a 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine mated to an alternator starter and a 12 V lithium-ion battery. This engine is mated to an “X-Tronic” automatic gearbox for 140 and 160 hp, while a manual transmission six-speed transmission is also available with the 140 hp version.
As for the Mild Hybrid Advanced engine, presented as the “best alternative to dieselThis is a first for Renault by the manufacturer. It features a 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine mated to an alternator starter and a 48V lithium-ion battery.
Finally, the last motorization and not the least, the E-Tech Hybrid or full hybrid in English. For the occasion, it is a new 1.2 l three-cylinder turbo petrol engine with an output of 96 kW (130 hp – 205 Nm torque) mated to a 50 kW (68 hp – 205 Nm torque) electric unit), powered by a battery (400 V) with a capacity of 1.7 kWh. The whole is associated with a seven-speed automatic transmission (five for hybrid mode and two for electric mode).
With this new E-Tech Hybrid engine, available in two power levels (160 or 200 hp), you can drive”up to 80% of the time in all-electric mode in the city, for a consumption saving of up to 40% compared to an internal combustion engine in the citysaid the French manufacturer.
On the other hand, there is – for now – no rechargeable hybrid, as was proposed on the Captur and Mégane models.
In addition to the various engines, the Renault Austral will be offered with no fewer than six finishes (Equilibre, Evolution, Techno, Iconic, Techno Esprit Alpine and Iconic Esprit Alpine). The Alpine Spirit gives a prominent place to special cosmetics (logo and trim) without reworking the engine.
Knowing that orders will open from May next year, prices have not been announced to date. We imagine that the first prizes should be around 30.000 €. Until mid-2022 for the first tests of this Renault Austral, which promises to be just as interesting as the Mégane E-Tech Electric.