Since the fall of Kadjar, Renault has been absent from the family SUV market, but all that is about to change with the arrival of Austral.
Here to take on Nissan qashqai, Toyota RAV4 and Kia SportageThe Austral is on Australia’s wish list, equipped with better technology and more efficient engines than its predecessor, as well as a more modern design.
While unconfirmed for our market, and expected to arrive until next year at the earliest, Renault will expect Austral to be able to make more progress than its predecessor, which already struggling despite being based on the same platform as the new generation Qashqai.
While Austral also borrows parts from Renault’s alliance partners Nissan and Mitsubishi, the French company claims that it is radically different from its popular cousins. But will that gap be a newcomer’s make or break?
As Austral is not yet confirmed for our market, it is difficult to guess how much it will cost in Australia – especially since the European and UK ranges will be exclusively electrified powertrains. .
Pricing for the UK has not even been announced yet. But for reference, Kadjarsourced from Spain, offers the entire turbocharger line-up locally and is priced from $29,990 to $37,990 plus on-road shipping.
Related new generation Nissan qashqaiwill be available locally in the coming months, will cost between $33,890 and $47,390 for the turbocharged petrol version, with e-Power series hybrid likely to be valued in the $45,000-$55,000 range.
Regardless, we expect the Austral to be a more premium proposition in the small SUV segment given the level of technology on offer. See this space.
The inside of the Austral certainly doesn’t look like a Mitsubishi or a Nissan.
In fact, it looks unlike anything else on the market. Sure, the basic components are the same – there’s a large touchscreen and a digital instrument display – but the details are Renault-ish.
We’re particular fans of the perforated lid on the sliding armrest, which you slide forward and backward like the throttle lever on a Boeing 747. It doesn’t do much, but it’s a Interesting addition.
It’s no surprise that the giant screen in the middle of the panel is inevitable, so doing it well is a good job. Google powers the system, like the new system Megane E-Tech touch screens of electric cars, and the results speak for themselves.
The system feels more intuitive than most, possibly related to Android phone technology, but the large icons and smooth responsiveness make it easier to use. It also comes with useful Google Maps navigation technology, which makes the old-fashioned GPS feel a bit… outdated.
That touchscreen is joined by a digital instrument display that’s also clear and sharp, but some data appears in slightly odd places, so it takes some time to get used to. with it. Thankfully, there’s also a head-up display to display the most important information on the windshield.
But technology isn’t the only important aspect of Austral interiors – classic simplicity matters too.
Overall build quality is pretty solid and everything is put together well, but there are one or two complaints about the quality of materials.
For the most part, all plastic feels solid and tactile, but a handful of components leave its side down a bit. Still, it feels as good as anything from Ford or Honda.
It’s also roomy, thanks to a flexible cabin that allows you to vary boot space for legroom via a sliding rear bench.
With all three rows of rear seats on runners, they can slide all the way forward to maximize bootability at the expense of legroom, or can slide backwards to create really roomy space. behind the front seats.
As a result, the official 430 liters The hybrid’s launch potential may sound a bit small, but it’s still practical. Slide the rear seat forward and non-hybrid models have 575 liters warm-up – larger of a BMW X3.
In Europe, the Austral will be offered with a choice of five different powertrains.
There are two versions of the 1.3-litre mild hybrid, and the 1.2-litre ‘Advanced’ mild-hybrid, but the highlight are the two ‘E-Tech Full Hybrid’ options.
Oddly enough, the lightweight-hybrid Advanced is the least powerful of them all, pressed 96kW from it 1.2 liter 3-cylinder petrol enginewhile 1.3 liter engine offered in 103kW and 116kW output result.
Both Electronic technology 1.2 liters The powertrain combines a 96kW petrol engine with two electric motors to give customers a choice 118kW or 146kW electricity output.
All of those are front-wheel drive only – all-wheel drive isn’t even available as an option – but they come with a choice of gearbox.
Mild hybrid versions are available with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic, while the full hybrid versions come with a complex multi-mode transmission with 15 required combinations.
With relatively low output power, performance is average, but efficiency is the name of the game. The 1.3-litre mild hybrids are the most economical option, burning 6.2 liters per 100kmbut E-Tech Full Hybrids are really efficient, providing low consumption 4.5L / 100km in the official economy test.
Renault reckons the hybrid system is even better in town, using only electric power up to 80% of the time.
While four-wheel drive is not available, Renault’s new all-wheel drive system.
Dubbed 4Control, the system rotates the rear wheels by up to 5 degrees for improved agility and stability at high speeds.
At low speeds, the rear wheel rotates in the opposite direction of the front wheel, tightening the rotation, while at high speed, the rear wheel rotates in the same direction for more stability.
It also brings a more modern multi-link rear suspension, as opposed to the less complicated rear axle fitted to two-wheelers.
Having only driven a car with four-wheel steering and multi-link suspension, we can’t comment on Austral’s full comfort, but can say we’ve booked.
Admittedly our test car used huge 20-inch alloy wheels, which didn’t help, but it still caused some rough bumps on the relatively smooth roads of the route. our European test track. It is not good.
On the plus side, the 4Control system gives the driver an extremely responsive steering feel, making it feel very responsive and agile.
If you are not smooth with the steering, you will feel a little shaky, but you will quickly get used to it and the rewards for this are plentiful.
There’s a bag of grip and a bit of feel through the handlebars, while good body control makes for reasonable entertainment on a good rear stretch.
It’s also good on longer journeys, thanks to a very refined set of engines, although that effect is slightly affected by the large amount of road noise.
On the high-end versions, at least, the cabin is equipped with a 12.3-inch instrument display, a large 12.0-inch infotainment touchscreen that is oriented vertically, towards the driver, and a screen. display 9.3 inches upward on the car glass.
The new OpenR infotainment setup is based on the Android Automotive operating system and has Google Maps built-in, Google Assistant voice recognition, and the Google Play app store. It supports over-the-air software updates and can be connected to a Harmon Kardon sound system.
Top models are available with four-wheel steering, which can rotate the rear wheels up to 5 degrees and reduce vehicle revs to 10.1 metres.
As part of Renault’s long-term strategy to make the Alpine brand more efficient, the Austral will be the first vehicle to offer the Esprit Alpine trim package.
While Austral’s Esprit Alpine versions don’t have any extra power or torque at their disposal, they do look sportier thanks to the gray 20-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels, mesh treatment Other radiators, black and black roof rails instead of chrome trim pieces.
Inside, there’s blue stitching, faux leather upholstery, aluminum pedals and a steering wheel wrapped in a mix of Nappa leather and faux suede. The Satin Shale Gray matte finish is also exclusive to Esprit Alpine models.
Austral has yet to be tested by Euro NCAP, and therefore does not currently have a safety rating.
Renault claims Austral is capable of Level 2 autonomous driving thanks to adaptive cruise control when stopping and moving, lane centering, front and rear automatic emergency braking (AEB) and a pre-emptive system. lane departure.
Other available safety features include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, surround-view camera, automatic parking assist and Matrix LED headlights.
Renault Australia covers its passenger car range with five-year, unlimited km warranty.
If Austral cools down, we expect it to be on the same program.
As the car isn’t currently on sale in Australia, there’s no exact indication of service prices, but the 1.3-litre Captur turbo and Arkana (sans hybrid tech) are priced at $399, $399, $399, 789 dollars and $399 for the first five.
Perhaps, the Austral is not the game changer that Renault might like, but it is a much more attractive car than its predecessor, Kadjar.
Better technology, a spacious cabin and the promise of strong economy give it real appeal, but it’s not without its benefits.
A problematic ride, limited performance, and lack of all-wheel drive might prompt some customers to look for a new family car.
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THAN: Renault Austral revealed