Austral Ambitions

The new Austral – a “Nouvelle Vague” tech SUV in Renault jargon – has recently been unveiled. The French marque has ambitious plans for this electrified Kadjar replacement. It is expected to bolster efforts to win back the C segment, the core of the global automotive market.

According to Renault, the Austral marks a further milestone in the C segment offensive that the Arkana and the new Megane E TECH Electric started. Merging the hallmarks of SUV models with new “sensual tech” design principles, its curvy, sensual silhouette is matched by strong geometric lines and details such as rear LED lights with micro-optic technology and headlights with diamond-shaped patterns.

Inside, the high-tech cockpit is centred around a large OpenR screen that combines the 12.3” dashboard instrument display with a floating 12” vertical multimedia screen. A new 9.3” head-up display is projected through the windscreen, and a sleek, modern cruising console creates a subtle divide between driver and front passenger.

Depending on model grade and chosen trim, the interior of the Austral incorporates real wood, leather, Alcantara, padded textiles, and top-quality soft-touch materials paired with lacquered Deep Glossy Black and Satin Chrome highlights. Renault claims knee-room for rear passengers is on par with the best in the category, and boot space is a generous 500 l. 

The exclusive and sportier Esprit Alpine version features a Satin Shale Gray body colour, an added grille bar, 20” diamond-cut black alloy wheels, Satin Black roof rails, Esprit Alpine badges on the sides, as well as unique Alcantara upholstery with blue, white and red stitching and piping.  

Hybrid Technology

The Austral is the first Renault model based on the new CMF CD platform of the Alliance. Besides being more rigid, lighter, and sturdier, two chassis versions are available – one with a flexible torsion beam for two-wheel-drive models and the other with a multi-link rear axle for the 4CONTROL Advanced four-wheel-drive derivatives.

E TECH Hybrid

The Austral also benefits from innovative powertrains (including Mild Hybrid Advanced and Mild Hybrid) with a selection of the latest E TECH Hybrid motors on a 400V battery architecture. Much like the Toyota RAV4 E FOUR Hybrid, the new Austral E TECH is a “full hybrid”, pairing a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol engine with an electric motor, a small 1.7 kWh battery, and a smart multi-mode clutchless transmission. Renault claims this E TECH Hybrid model (with a total of 146 kW) delivers optimal fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions (starting at 4.6 l/100 km and 105 g/km, pending certification).

Mild Hybrid Advanced

The Mild Hybrid Advanced derivative combines the same 1.2 litre, three-cylinder turbo petrol engine with a small lithium-ion battery and starter motor generator. The 97kW engine and manual transmission are claimed to deliver fuel efficiency starting from 5.3 l/100 km and CO2 emissions from 123 g/km (pending certification).

Mild Hybrid

The entry-level Mild Hybrid Austral derivative utilises a 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged direct-injection petrol engine (already available in some other Renault vehicles) developed in collaboration with Daimler and combined with a starter motor generator and a small lithium-ion battery. 

Coupled with the X Tronic auto transmission, it develops either 104 kW or 120 kW, and 104 kW in the manual model. The 120 kW 12V Mild Hybrid engine delivers 270 Nm of torque and a mixed cycle fuel economy as low as 6.2 l/100 km, with CO2 emissions from 136 g/km.

Flagship E TECH Hybrid

The flagship E TECH Hybrid with Multi-Sense technology has four different driving modes (Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Perso) and a Predictive hybrid driving function. An Extended Grip Pack with two additional modes (Snow and All Roads) is also available.

The arrival of 4CONTROL, the third-generation four-wheel steering system from Renault, imbues the Austral with a new level of comfort and increased agility. It also features 32 Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and improved passive safety equipment. The OpenR Link multimedia system can also accommodate OpenR Link updates. 

Last Word

In addition to the Arkamys sound system, the Austral boasts a premium sound experience honed by sound specialist Harman Kardon. The Austral is set to go on sale in Europe from the last quarter of this year, but it is still unclear whether Renault South Africa will consider it for local introduction.

Report by Ferdi de Vos | Images © Renault France

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