The Austral SUV will carry the new Renault logo on its nose and tailgate

The replacement for Renault’s long-serving Kadjar SUV is entering the final stages of its test programme ahead of its on-sale date later this year.

Renault has released these first official images of the Austral, complete with eye-catching disguise, undergoing development work on what appears to be a private proving ground.

Endurance tests designed to confirm the reliability and longevity of the vehicle’s various components form the last stage before the sign-off process can take place.

“The new Renault Austral is about to undertake a round of tests known as ‘Confirmation Runs’, in which a fleet of around 100 vehicles have set off to travel two million kilometres (1,242,000-miles),” said the firm.

“The new SUV will therefore cross France, Spain, Germany and Romania in order to confirm the results of the previous checks. Nine hundred drivers will cover 600,000km (372,822-miles) of open roads in real-life conditions, while the remaining 1,400,000km (869,919-miles) will take place on the track.

The Austral looks to have drawn its inspiration from the Megane E-Tech Electric

“These tests will enable the teams to approve the adjustments made to the new CMF-CD3 platform and driver assistance systems, as well as the sound-proofing and comfort of the suspension system, so that future customers can enjoy the best conditions,” added the firm.

Renault has confirmed its new Toyota RAV4 rival is set to be a petrol hybrid-only affair when the covers come off it in Springtime.

Power it set to come from the latest-generation ‘E-Tech’ hybrid set-ups – a 1.3-litre TCe petrol engine with a 12-volt mild hybrid battery and, for the first time in the Renault range, a 1.2-litre TCe petrol motor supported by 48-volt mild hybrid technology.

Bold claims are being made about the frugalness of the Austral’s engines, with Renault saying they will offer “record-breaking performance, with reduced CO2 emissions”. Tail-pipe emissions start at 105g/Km, with maximum power quoted at 197bhp.

The Austral has big shoes to fill once production of the Kadjar finally ceases; since going on sale in 2015, it has remained one of Europe’s top-selling SUVs.

Its appeal was extended by a mild facelift in 2019 and it is hoped a pair of run-out models announced before Christmas will have the same effect.

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