With the compact SUV Austral, Renault brings the successor to its previous model Kadjar. The 4,51 meter long five-door is on a new platform, the design is based on the new electric model Megane E-Tech. But he doesn't get much power.
Who in the model lexicon of Renault researches, encounters a large number of names. Examples from the recent past that have been largely forgotten today are Avantime, Vel Satis, Safrane or Fluence. A new name was usually needed when a model did not go down well with customers as the Renault bosses in Paris had hoped. A fate that now also includes the SUV model Qajar overtaken. Since he didn't manage to close the gap to the bestseller VW Tiguan, the name is now moving into the company archive and making room for the "Austral".
A Renault from Australia? The new name in no way indicates the origin of the modern, newly tailored five-door. "Austral" is a word for "southern" that is hardly ever used today, which, according to Renault, should "evoke images of the boundless expanse of the South in the customer and symbolize its endless possibilities". Renault boss Luca de Meo translates the marketing speech bubble and explains: "The Austral is the best embodiment of everything an SUV of this size has to have".
By that he probably means the pleasing lines, which are characterized by a gently sloping roof that ends in a rear spoiler in the upper third of the rear window. The front end, on the other hand, looks bulkier, although it looks similar to the electric Megane E-Tech, but as a petrol engine it inevitably has a distinctive radiator grille above and below the bumper. As with the electric car, the bonnet was given a rectangular recess for the brand logo. Typical for an Austral is the signature of the LED daytime running lights, the strip of which begins above the headlights and then curves towards the center of the front.
Lots of digital space and head-up display
The similarities between the internal combustion engine and the electric Megane are greater. The two monitors in front of the driver and in the center of the dashboard merge into one big whole. Including the head-up display, there is a lot of display space. Depending on the equipment, the Austral shines all around with attractive materials in a wood or carbon look, quilted seat covers and much more that is not found everywhere in this class.
However, as usual, this is always a question of household budgets. The ambience is garnished with a generous amount of space for the backbenchers too. Passengers on low-cost airlines can only dream of almost 28 centimeters of knee room. The same applies to the space between the hair and the headliner. The rear seats are adjustable in length. The trunk can be increased from 430 to up to 555 liters. If the backrests are folded down, it is up to 1.455 liters.
Significant changes can be found in the engine compartment. Goodbye diesel is the new Renault motto, of all things, in a vehicle class in which this drive was the first choice for a long time. Electricity is supposed to ensure economical use of fuel, which is becoming increasingly expensive. The top model is entering the race with a so-called full hybrid. In addition to the 1,2-liter turbo petrol engine with three cylinders, there is a battery on board that contributes to the drive with a capacity of 1,7 kWh and 400 volts via an electric motor.
Together, the duo achieves 146 kW/200 hp. The battery is constantly recharged by the combustion engine and the energy generated when braking or rolling. According to Renault, for example, three hard stops are enough to fill the battery up to 80 percent again. In typical city traffic, the Austral should also be a good 80 percent electric on the road, making it 40 percent more economical than classic combustion engines.
No plugin Austral
But: Since the purely electric range is not even sufficient for two kilometers, such a full hybrid cannot be ennobled with an e-mark. The solution would be a more powerful battery that is recharged via a socket. Such a plug-in hybrid is not planned for the Austral. In return, the French are giving the cheaper models a “mild” hybrid version, which feeds a generator via a 48-volt on-board network (12 volts in the basic model), which takes care of the supply of various electricity consumers and after the start-stop also for restarting the Gasoline worries. After all, the three hybrid types should be good for consumption at the diesel level.
32 assistance systems
In contrast to the drive, the 4,51 meter long Austral is fully up to date when it comes to connectivity thanks to the online connection or the assistance systems. Always connected to the Internet, he can use various Google apps, receive updates and control some settings with voice commands. Up to 32 electronic helpers ensure safety. All-wheel steering can also be ordered, which shortens the turning circle to 10,1 meters, 1,4 meters less than without the system. The options list also includes LED matrix headlights, all-wheel drive and many other delicacies.
Since there is still half a year left until the market launch in September, Renault has not yet announced any prices. The base model of the previous Renault Kadjar last started at 30.600 euros. In this respect, the usual surcharge for new products can be expected for the Austral.