The Austral is Renault’s all-new medium-sized SUV offering

Renault’s replacement for the venerable Kadjar Sport Utility Vehicle will be sold with a choice of two full-hybrid powertrains and come with an arsenal of the latest safety assistance systems.

Built on Renault’s CMF-CD platform, company bosses have high expectations for the boldly styled Austral which is offered in seven colours and a choice of trims, including all-new ‘Esprit Alpine’ grade.

Getting the Austral just right is crucial for Renault as it aims to “win back” C-segment sales that have been lost to the likes of Ford’s Kuga, the Kia Sportage and Nissan’s third generation Qashqai.

Wearing wheels measuring between 17- and 20-inches, the Austral’s look is in keeping with other modern Renaults, so C-shaped headlamps and tail-lights and the new Renault logo all feature. To further define the all-new model designers have finished it off with a flourish of 4×4-inspired cues.

From the outset the Austral is being sold with two part-electrified powertrains that pair a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine with an e-motor for combined outputs of 157bhp and 196bhp. In terms of efficiency, Renault quotes fuel returns of 61.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 150g/Km.

Buyers can also select a mild-hybrid Renault believes is a “genuine alternative to diesel” as it can hit 53mpg. It achieves this by incorporating a 48V battery and a belt-integrated starter generator that helps the engine under load and during acceleration by providing an extra boost of power thus reducing fuel consumption.

Tipped as a fun-to-drive SUV, the Austral has two suspension set-ups: a flexible torsion beam for two-wheel steering models and a multi-link rear axle for those with ‘4Control’ – Renault’s four-wheel steering system.

On top of reducing the turning circle to 10.1 metres, 4Control is said to guarantee more sure-footed handling while the stiffer body allows for superior comfort levels compared to the Kadjar.

Like the outside, the cabin of the Austral marks a new design phase for Renault. There is a clear emphasis on moving the look and feel of the interior upmarket as demonstrated by the ‘OpenR’ screen that combines a 12.3-inch digital instrument display with a vertically mounted 12-inch multimedia screen. A 9.3-inch windscreen projected head-up display also features.

Depending on the trim and extras selected, the Austral’s cabin architecture incorporates real timber, leather, Alcantara and padded touch points that are paired with gloss black and satin chrome lacquered highlights.

In terms of practicality, rear passengers are said to benefit from knee room that is on par with the best in class at 27.4 cm. Interior storage equals 35-litres and the moveable rear bench has a 60/40 split-folding function. With the back seats up, boot space totals 500-litres and grows to 1,525-litres when these are folded down flat.

Renault will start accepting orders in the middle of 2022 when prices are expected to be announced before the first customer deliveries begin in the second half of the year.

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