Renault Austral, the full hybrid SUV symbol of Renaulution

Renault Austral, the full hybrid SUV symbol of Renaulution

Renault Austral

Renaulution has officially begun and the new Renault Austral SUV promises to bring the convenience and flexibility of a hybrid powertrain capable of adapting to all uses, from city use to long journeys, to the homes of many Italians motorway: we tested it a few days ago and today we're sharing our first impressions.

Let's start the story of the new Renault Austral from the glance it is able to offer: Austral follows the same stylistic features that we already have could be admired on the Megane E-Tech, with a design called " Sensual Tech " which manages to blend very well soft and important lines with sharp and angular details, giving at the same time an idea of ​​dynamism but also of power. Renault Austral measures 4510mm in length, is 1843mm wide and reaches 1644mm in height and is the vehicle with which Renault aims to conquer the market in the C segment, one of the most aggressive today.

Renault Austral can boast many modern and captivating details, such as the new satin-chrome logo or the front and rear Full LED headlights capable of giving the car a clear identity, thanks to the luminous signatures with which they are equipped.

Internally we have large spaces designed in a logical and functional way, with a driver's seat that is described as a cradle of technology: once you sit in the driver's seat of the Renault Austral you immediately realize why this definition, admiring the two OpenR displays placed in an inverted "L" that look at the driver. The quality perceived on board is high, thanks to the use of precious materials such as wood, used for some inserts; lots of black and shiny plastic, an increasingly widespread detail in modern cars which, however, is rarely appreciated by the public due to the reflections of light it is able to create and the ease with which it can be scratched. The dashboard is tidy and elegant also because Renault has chosen to move the gear selector behind the steering wheel, inserting an additional lever to be moved up or down depending on the selected gear: in the center of the tunnel we find large storage compartments surmounted by a handle sliding to be used also as a wrist rest for when using the touchscreen or the physical buttons located in the lower part of the central screen. Honorable mention for the steering wheel, compact but with an attractive shape.

The infotainment system is well done, equipped with the Android Automotive operating system that can be used without the need to pair it with a smartphone: to date it is probably the best software that can be found on a car, thanks to its wealth of functions dedicated but also for its fluidity and ease of use. The Harman Kardon audio system with 12 speakers and 485 Watts of power completes the equipment of a very welcoming passenger compartment covered with high quality materials.

The real novelty of Renault Austral, however, is under the bonnet: thanks to the new CMF-CD platform, Renault has managed to create a very compact Full Hybrid engine – thanks to the battery hidden under the floor – and effective, lively when needed but soft and relaxed for everyday use: the new 1.2 E- Renault's Tech Hybrid is made up of a 1.2-litre 3-cylinder turbo petrol engine, flanked by a 400-volt electrical system consisting of a 68-horsepower electric motor and a small battery, for a total power of 200 horsepower. The 2 kWh lithium-ion battery is hidden under the floor of the car and therefore does not take up precious space in the passenger compartment, as well as contributing to fuel economy: Renault declares a consumption of 4.6 liters of petrol per 100 km, although during our test we were unable to get close to these data.

Alternatively, you can choose the two mild hybrid engines proposed: the entry level one is a mild hybrid with 12 volt combined with the 158 horsepower 1.3 petrol engine, while the intermediate version is powered by the same petrol engine found on the Full Hybrid, but combined with a 48 volt electric mild hybrid system.

During the tests on board the E-Tech Full Hybrid version we were able to test the capabilities of the electric part, also given the traffic we encountered in the afternoon, and when you switch from the electric motor to the thermal one you can hear the ignition distinctly of the engine, which r however, it is quite silent and fluid; the present gearbox has no particular sporting ambitions and this can be understood from certain changes that are a little too slow, but for those looking for a bit of sporty driving there is a "Sport" mode and even paddles on the steering wheel.

One of the peculiarities of Renault Austral is undoubtedly the system of steering wheels on the rear axle: this is an option sold for €1500 together with the multilink suspension and makes the car much more agile and pleasant to drive in different scenarios. At low speeds, the rear wheels will automatically steer in the opposite direction to the front wheels, so as to offer a turning radius of just 10 metres, while at higher speeds, the wheels will all steer in the same direction, so as to improve the car's stability.

During the test we were able to compare the turning radius of the new Renault Austral with that of a Renault Kadjar without rear steering wheels: in a dedicated car park we tested the of the two cars, and although the old Kadjar is shorter than the Austral by a few millimeters the U-turn drawn with the cones was performed in a single maneuver only on the Austral, while with the Kadjar it was necessary to engage reverse to complete it .

Safety is also top notch, as is normal on a modern car: there are no less than 32 safety systems that Renault has integrated into the new Austral, which thus becomes the most technologically advanced car of the French brand. During our test we were able to test the simple and fluid operation of the adaptive cruise control and of the system that takes care of keeping the car on track, but Austral can offer many more functions even when parking and during maneuvers in tight spaces.

Finally, the range, which with Austral is enriched by the new “Esprit Alpine” trim combined with the Techno and Iconic models: starting from the Equilibre version, available only on the entry mild-hybrid at €32,000, passing through the 48-volt mild-hybrid offered at €36,000 in the Techno trim (+€1,500 for the Esprit Alpine version). For those aiming for the real novelty, i.e. the E-Tech Full Hybrid engine, the price starts at €39,500 for the Techno set-up and can go up to €44,000 in the case of the Iconic Esprit Alpine model.

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