With sister brands Nissan and Mitsubishi already showing off their next-generation models in the form of the X-Trail and Outlander, Renault has now officially completed the lineup by unveiling the all-new Austral.
The 4.51-metre-long Austral, the replacement for the Kadjar, will be the latest model to run on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s upgraded CMF-D platform, which has been modified to allow for electrification, as in the case of the previous pair, the Megane E-Tech Electric and the Arkans.
It takes its name from the Latin word Australia, meaning “from the south” or “southern”, the Austral, according to Renault, “evokes the vibrancy and heat of the southern hemisphere” and also represents a “nouvelle vague” (new trend) range of technology and features.
With styling of the Mégane E-Tech with a subtle, coupé-esque pitched roof and a X-Trail-inspired D-pillar, the Austral rides on 17-inch alloy wheels as standard and the more expensive models are mounted on 20-inch diamond-cut wheels.
Longer than the Kadjar in overall length and wheelbase, the Austral has a claimed luggage space of between 430 to 575 litres, depending on the powertrain, with Renault also maintaining improved rear head and legroom.
The biggest departure from the Kadjar is in the interior, where the interior features a new design emphasized by a portrait-style 12-inch touchscreen infotainment system with over-the-air updates, or OpenR in Renault-speak, plus a new 12 .3-inch digital instrument panel.
In addition to a new 9.3-inch Heads-Up Display and a Harmon Kardon sound system specifically designed for the infotainment system, the Austral features the same steering wheel as the Megane, a selection of materials ranging from leather to Alcantara, and a center console fitted with a airplane gas style sliding armrest.
A Renault first is the new Esprit Alpine trim level, which would incorporate elements from the Alpine range.
The Esprit Alpine is essentially the replacement for the RS Line and the earlier GT-Line versions. Esprit Alpine accents include Alpine 20-inch diamond-cut black Daytona alloy wheels, a satin gray grille, gloss black trim, satin black roof rails, Esprit Alpine decals and a custom Satin Shale Gray color.
Unique to the interior are alloy pedals, Alpine-branded door sills, a nappa leather/Alcantara-finish steering wheel, carbon-fibre-look inserts, Alcantara-upholstered seats with blue stitching and the French tricolor in the form of stitching on the steering wheel.
In terms of safety and driver assistance, the Austral is equipped with a surround-view camera system, Lane Centering, Blind Spot Monitoring, Park Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert with Automatic Braking.
Together with Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Prevention, the various systems ensure that the Austral is capable of Level 2 autonomous driving, only where strictly permitted.
As part of the new platform, the Austral offers a choice of two chassis’; the standard configuration uses a torsion beam design and a multi-link configuration, complete with the 4Control rear wheel steering system.
As with the previous generation Megane, the Austral features Renault’s Multi-Sense driving mode selector with four settings; Eco, Comfort, Sport and Peso with the so-called Extended Grip Pack with two off-road-oriented settings; Snow and all roads.
At launch, motivation comes through three electrified petrol engines under three designations; mild-hybrid, mild-hybrid advanced and E-Tech.
In the first case, the well-known Daimler-developed 1.3-litre turbo is coupled to a 12-volt battery that delivers 103 kW in combination with the six-speed manual transmission and 118 kW in models equipped with the Xtronic CVT. †
Called Mild Hybrid Advanced, the Austral derives its power from a newly developed 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo coupled to a 48-volt battery for a total system power of 96 kW. Branded as a “true alternative to diesel”, the unit is available exclusively with the six-speed manual transmission.
At the top of the range, the E-Tech combines the 1.2-litre grinder with a 1.7 kWh lithium-ion battery that powers a single electric motor in two stages; 118 kW and 147 kW.
Power is routed to the front wheels only via the unique four-speed multi-mode clutchless gearbox that debuted on the Clio E-Tech†
As with the Kadjar, production of the Austral will take place at Renault’s Palencia plant in Spain, while sales in Europe will take place from the last quarter of this year. There are currently no plans to bring the Austral to South Africa.