New Renault Austral, the pleasure of premium from Renault

Renault has unveiled the latest addition to its SUV range – the long-awaited Austral. This model, which will replace the much-loved Kadjar, marks the next step in the automaker’s C-segment offensive, which has already seen the all-new Megane E-Tech Electric enter the scene. A first public outing for this newborn, which is characterized by its new platform, its premium cabin, its attractive design and its new range of 100% hybrid engines.

After an exhaustive campaign, the new Austral is finally here. Renault’s first model to ride on the third-generation CMF-CD platform replaces the aging Kadjar and brings a host of new features. The most obvious is a completely different design, as the compact crossover adopts a fresh exterior look and a high-tech cabin that represents a significant departure from the model it replaces.

This bold new look, enhanced by a premium interior and hybrid powertrains, intends to breathe new life into the brand, which has begun its ” Renewal », his Renault-style revolution. A radically improved list of equipment and fully electrified engines complete this highly attractive offering, aimed at “winning back” buyers in the crucial crossover segment.

An ambitious bet… and a winner

Austral is the first Renault model to use the all-new CMF-CD platform of 3e generation, developed jointly with Mitsubishi and Nissan, and which today supports electric powertrains. The brand is competing for a significant share of the crucial crossover SUV market, a market that has passed its saturation point. If a manufacturer is now going to enter this space, it needs to bring something special, which Renault, it has to be said, has performed superbly across the Austral.

Austral is therefore an ambitious product with an electrified powertrain, a cool new look, an improved equipment list and a premium interior. L’Austral is a continuation of Renault’s ideology ” cars to live campaign, together with the Arkana and the all-new Mégane, to reclaim the C-segment car market. The brand hopes to achieve this goal by offering compact crossovers that outperform its peers in key areas of clean energy advanced automotive technology. The Renault Austral will also be a worthy rival to mid-size SUVs such as the Ford Kruga family SUV and the Toyota RAV4 compact SUV.

A style that turns heads

In terms of style, the new Renault Austral is resolutely modern and refined, taking the new approach ” Sensual technology of the brand in terms of design. Inspired by the recent Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric, this revival results in a shapely and sensual silhouette complemented by strong geometric lines and other spectacular exterior details such as LED rear lights (Matrix technology) and the patterns in the form of C-diamond headlights. The black grille with small vertical facets is crossed by a chrome strip which connects the headlights, while at the bottom of the front bumper, a sports blade in body color equips the high finishes.

The structural reinvention of Renault’s SUV can be seen in every detail… a new Renault logo sits atop the honeycomb grille, voluminous 4×4-inspired skid plates and alloy wheels measuring up to 20 inches in diameter are all hallmarks. Sharp creases and a two-tone roof add character to the side of the car. There is no doubt that the neat and modern style of the Austral will seduce on a large scale as it is so successful.

A first for a Renault, the Austral 2023 inaugurates the Esprit Alpine, which serves as a high-end finish. Inspired by the sports car brand Alpine and modeled on Renault’s sporty DNA, it brings a sportier look to the SUV. This finish features 20-inch black aluminum wheels, black body panels and an exclusive satin slate gray body color. Inside, the flagship model combines Alcantara with Nappa leather and carbon fiber-like twill fabric. The cabin is also finished with blue stitching and blue pipes, as well as aluminum pedals and door frames with the Alpine logo.

In terms of dimensions, the Austral is 4.51 meters long, 1.83 meters wide and 1.62 meters high, with a wheelbase of 2.67 meters. It is therefore slightly longer and higher than its predecessor, while also being slightly narrower and having an extended wheelbase. Cargo capacity varies from 500 to 575 liters depending on whether the vehicle has a fixed or sliding rear seat. If we choose the full hybrid model and its extra equipment, the volume drops to 430 and 555 liters respectively. The interior storage represents an additional 35 liters for small items.

An impressive technological interior

On board we discover a very advanced cabin, where beautiful finishes rub shoulders with quality materials and an impressive level of equipment that radically departs from the Kadjar, its predecessor. There is no doubt that the new Renault Austral wipes the slate clean and hits the SUV segment hard. The Renault Austral 2023 has a high-tech cockpit, enriched with three interactive screens, including an oversized OpenR screen that combines a host of 12.3-inch digital instruments and a 12-inch vertical multimedia screen in portrait format for the center console. This set consists of a single element in the shape of an inverted “L” with a total surface area of ​​774 cm² and can be supplemented with a 9.3-inch head-up display, projected directly onto the windshield.

The OpenR infotainment touchscreen fitted to the higher-end models is described as “one of the largest screens on the automotive market”. The multimedia system integrates the Google environment, an ultra-responsive and customizable experience with unmatched resolution on the market. The graphics are crisp, the menu layout makes sense, and it has all the features you want, including Google Maps, not to mention Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The cabin temperature controls are simple physical rocker switches located below the screen, and the perceived material finish is good enough to worry Volkswagens and Kias. This list is complete with matrix headlights, a 360-degree parking camera and level 2 autonomous driving technology.

As for the cabin itself, its design is heavily inspired by the Mégane. It has a similar divided material design for the dashboard, with this particular car offering a mix of leather and wood. You will also have the option of dressing it in high-quality fabrics or Alcantara according to your choice. Another strong point of the Renault Austral: modularity. The new SUV has a 2/3-1/3 rear seat that slides 16 cm. Enough to free up a boot volume of up to 575 dm3 or room for the rear passengers’ legs as needed.

Faithful to tradition cars to live The Austral is intentionally designed to comfortably accommodate the whole family, as evidenced by the best-in-class knee room of 27.4 cm for rear passengers. Owners will also benefit from the many storage compartments – with a total capacity of approximately 35 liters – spread throughout the cabin.

Engines: the hybrid at its best

The new Renault Austral will be offered with a range of innovative and efficient engines. At entry level, the Renault Austral’s power comes from a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo engine with 48V mild-hybrid technology. This base engine develops 130 hp and is mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. As it is a small engine, it consumes no more than 5.3 litres/100 km. Thanks to this hybrid system, all starts and 80% of trips in the city are all electric.

Above this engine sits a larger 4-cylinder engine developed in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz. This engine has a displacement of 1.3 liters and uses the same mild hybrid technology. It is available with a 6-speed manual gearbox or an X-Tronic automatic gearbox. The output is 140 hp with the manual gearbox and 160 hp with the automatic gearbox. At the top of the range is the E-Tech hybrid model, which has a full hybrid system based on the 1.2-liter engine. This combination is available with an output of 160 or 200 horsepower. The fuel consumption figures are even better at just 4.6 litres/100 km. An all-electric model has yet to be announced, but it is highly likely that these mild hybrid and plug-in hybrid variants will ease the transition to electrification without drivers having to change their driving style or mode of operation.

A number of innovative elements contribute to improving Austral’s fuel consumption. For example, all three electrified powertrain options feature regenerative braking, and predictive eco-driving advice helps make driving more fuel-efficient, for example by telling the driver when it’s best to let off the accelerator in different driving conditions. The all-new Austral will be one of the most cost-effective hybrid SUVs in use, and climate-conscious buyers will surely be struck by the Austral’s low CO2 emissions of 105g/km, which is the best cost-effectiveness in the hybrid SUV category.

“A real pleasure to drive”

On the road, the new Renault Austral impresses with its dynamic qualities thanks to its well-built chassis. Renault claims that the new platform makes Austral ” a real pleasure to drive “and praise its stiffness and adaptability” optimized of his suspensions. To enhance the sensations, the rear steering wheel in the new 4Control Advanced system provides better handling and better stability in all conditions. Renault’s new SUV has no less than 32 driving aids. To name just two: Active emergency braking with cross function (pedestrians, cyclists, etc.) and active driving assistance, which combines intelligent and predictable adaptive cruise control and centering in the lane. A new step towards autonomous driving!

The Austral is fitted with torsion beam rear suspension as standard, and the higher range offers four-wheel steering and multi-link rear suspension, benefiting from a steering ratio of 13:1 (instead of the standard 14.7:1) for more precise handling and a turning radius of only 10.1 metres. In the universe of medium-sized family SUVs, the Austral is one of the most endearing, the steering is well-balanced and allows the big Renault to swing with a bit of power while staying well in line. Powerful acceleration out of corners evokes its playful character characterized by reassuring and manageable understeer.

A real success, the four-wheel steering is natural and predictable in its responses. The system steers the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels when cornering at high speeds to provide stability, which is matched by a relatively well-contained body, providing a sense of confidence and handling, whether on a motorway or in the highway. in the middle of city traffic. Austral has a certain liveliness, but it’s also comfortable and refined. In roundabouts and tight bends, the agility is strong. On the highways it is calibrated to give good stability, contains body roll and lift well and gives a relaxed, quiet feel. A touch of alpine magic is present!

patrick koune

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