Unveiled in 2015 and after seven years on the market, the Renault Kadjar is bowing out to make way for a new generation of compact SUVs. To replace it, Renault decided to name its successor Austral. In the words of the brand, the name symbolises “the colours and warmth of the southern hemisphere”. In a way, it’s an invitation to travel and discover great outdoors.
The new Renault Austral hybrid is ready to make its mark in the heart of the mid-size SUV market.
A muscular style
The Renault Kadjar was a SUV with a conventional look. The Renault Austral is just the opposite. The newcomer’s design is more in tune with customer expectations. The front end is imposing and vertical. The profile features wide flanks and pronounced wheel arches. In addition, the very high beltline and large-diameter wheels reinforce the vehicle’s robust appearance. The ribs on the bonnet and sides add a touch of sportiness and finesse to the vehicle. The car’s overall length has been increased by 3 cm to 4.51 m, giving it more presence. All these qualities give the hybrid SUV a strong identity. The result is a very attractive SUV, consistent with the brand’s latest products.
A high-tech, high-value interior
Apart from having a very attractive exterior, the Renault Austral can count on its modern and attractive interior look. Facing the driver, we find a full-width digital panel. In the centre, the 12-inch touch-screen tablet gives access to all the vehicle’s functions. The improvement in terms of appearance and quality is impressive, with a very well-designed interior made from quality and very well assembled materials. The design of headrests is reminiscent of Volvo productions. The interior is spacious, offering excellent rear-seat space and a generous load area. A sliding rear bench seat is fitted as standard, making it very practical for everyday use. This is perfect if you need to free up as much boot space as possible for family trips and leisure activities. It’s also ideal for children to seat comfortably in the rear. The interior of the Renault Austral is a new reference in its category. It reflects Renault’s efforts to move its vehicles upmarket.
The Austral gives pride of place to hybridisation
On the technical level, the Renault Austral uses the evolution of the CMF-C/D platform from the latest Nissan Qashqai. The diesel has been dropped from the range to be replaced by micro-hybrids and conventional hybrids. The Renault Austral is therefore a hybrid SUV with a range of 4 engines:
- 130 hp 1.2 Mild Hybrid
- 160 hp 1.3 TCE Mild Hybrid
- 160 hp e-Tech Hybrid
- 200 hp e-Tech Hybrid
The first two power levels are expected to represent the majority of registrations. The Renault Austral is available with a manual gearbox, as well as 2 automatic gearboxes. The first with X-Tronic variable transmission from Nissan and the second with dog clutch, a technology shared with Renault’s F1 department. In the absence of all-wheel drive, the Renault Austral has a 4-wheel-steering chassis, depending on the version. This means you can manoeuvre around town like a city car. But it also makes driving more fun, especially on mountain roads, where the 4 Control Advanced system delivers the precision and agility of a sedan.
Once behind the wheel, the Renault Austral is reassuring and pleasant to drive, with well-calibrated steering and a well-balanced chassis. Soundproofing is of a high standard. The improvements on the Renault Kadjar are noticeable, even if the Peugeot 3008 is still a step above it in terms of dynamism.
A complete offering in an ultra-competitive segment
Pleasant to look at, comfortable, well-built, with a very high level of road performance and contemporary engines, the French SUV has some serious arguments to seduce an increasingly demanding clientele.
It will be up against competitors with established reputations, such as the Peugeot 3008, the Volkswagen Tiguan and the Citroën C5 Aircross. But also against challengers such as the Hyundai Tucson and the Kia Sportage, which are proving highly successful on the European market. Last but not least, we must not forget the Chinese competition, such as the very convincing MG EHS, which we recently tested on video.
The brand wants its new hybrid SUV to become a reference. It is now available to order from €33,400 in Equilibre Mild Hybrid trim with 130 hp, and from €44,900 in Iconic Esprit Alpine trim with E-tech 200 hp.
This time, the Renault Austral Hybrid isn’t just there to make up the numbers – the competition has been warned!