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Renault Austral succeeds Kadjar

Despite name, local introduction of Renault’s Qashqai-based small SUV unconfirmed

11 Mar 2022

WITH A moniker derived from the Latin word ‘australis’ and said to evoke “the vibrancy and heat of the Southern Hemisphere”, the new Renault Austral small SUV seems a shoo-in for the local market, but at this stage, the Kadjar replacement, remains only “under consideration” for Australia.


Although Sydney-based Renault importer Ateco is remaining tight-lipped about the likelihood of the Austral’s introduction in Australia, GoAuto understands the ageing Koleos medium SUV is likely to be replaced by a three-row version of this new model when production of the latter ends next year.


The longer seven-seat model will give Renault a direct competitor to the Peugeot 5008 and will be produced alongside the two-row Austral at the French firm’s Palencia facility in Spain.


At first glance, one could be forgiven for thinking the slickly styled Austral is a road-hugging battery-electric vehicle; Renault’s “Sensual Tech” design language, which combines svelte curves with strong geometric lines, is very apparent.


Although the model’s rear aspect is rather derivative (apart from the segmented faux diffuser), the deeply sculpted bonnet, intricately detailed LED headlights (with L-shaped DRLs) and expansive front grille and lower air intake distinguish the Austral’s frontal design.


Moreover, the brochure-friendly Esprit Alpine variant shown here features a decidedly sporty execution awash with Diamond Black, Extra Glossy Black and Ice Black detailing.


The Satin Shale Gray exterior finish is complemented by a stark chainmail-patterned grille, 20-inch diamond-cut black alloys with Alpine branding and Satin Black roof rails. Esprit Alpine badges appear on the flanks. 


Even more overt crossover cues appear on the Austral’s interior. Apart from the now ubiquitous expansive digital surfaces ahead and to the right of the driver, the cabin architecture’s standout feature is the broad centre console, or “cruising console” as Renault calls it. 


In the absence of a transmission lever (the Austral has a column-mounted shift stalk), there is a sizable hand rest, which is flanked by an inductive charging slot for a smartphone and additional storage space.


Various trim finishes are available depending on grade, such as genuine wood, leather, suede, padded textiles and as a melange of gloss-black and satin-chrome elements. 


Tech-wise, the driver’s interface combines a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 12.0-inch portrait orientated infotainment touchscreen equipped with smartphone screen-mirroring and other connectivity features and a 9.3-inch head-up display. “Living Lights” LED illumination is also included. 


Upper-end variants feature premium interior features such as Alcantara with carbon-fibre twill fabric, blue stitching and piping, a multi-function steering wheel with Nappa leather trim, Alcantara inserts and blue, white and red stitching (oh oui), aluminium pedals and Alpine-branded door sills. 


In terms of practicality, the Austral is said to offer “best in class” rear knee room of 274 mm, 35 litres’ worth of oddment space, and a 66.5/33.5 split-folding rear seat that can be adjusted along 16cm rails.


The load bay capacity is 500 litres (VDA) on versions with mild hybrid drivetrains and, thanks to the sliding bench seat, luggage space can balloon to 575L with the rear seats still in place or 1525 litres when they are folded down. Access to the hold is provided by a hands-free power tailgate.


Based on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s third-generation CMF-CD platform, the Austral shares its underpinnings and several mechanical components with its Japanese cousin, the Nissan Qashqai, which is expected to be introduced in the Australian market quite soon. 


The Austral’s top powertrain is a new petrol-electric E-Tech “full hybrid” that combines a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine with an electric motor and a 400V, 1.7kWh lithium-ion battery. Combined power is rated at 146kW and Renault claims a fuel consumption figure of 4.6L/100km.


A “Mild Hybrid Advanced” powertrain combines a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder turbo-petrol engine and manual gearbox with a 48V lithium-ion battery and starter motor that generates 97kW. This variant, which is Renault’s “alternative to a turbo-diesel” is said to consume 5.3 L/100km on the combined cycle. 


Renault will also offer two additional mild-hybrid powertrains including an entry-level 1.3-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine combined with a 12V lithium-ion battery and starter motor that offers 103kW in combination with a manual gearbox or 120kW when paired to an automatic transmission. 


Like its predecessor, the Austral has a front-wheel-drive configuration, but higher-grade versions feature Renault’s four-wheel steering system, which enhances comfort, agility and manoeuvrability.  


In terms of driver assistance features, the Austral comes with as active driver assist, adaptive cruise control (with stop and go), lane centring, a 360-degree surround-view 3D cameras, automated park assist, blind-spot monitoring, lane departure prevention, rear automatic emergency braking; rear cross-traffic alert; adaptive matrix LED lighting and occupant safe exit functions.

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