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Review – Renault Austral (2023)

October 6, 2022

Renault Australia

It is not often that Renault introduces a completely new model. Models such as the Twingo, Clio and Mégane have been around for decades. The Zoe, Captur and Kadjar are also now familiar and familiar faces in the Renault stable. Yet Renault is now introducing a new family member: the Austral. The new SUV takes the place of the Kadjar in the C-segment. It will compete against models such as the Peugeot 3008, Volkswagen Tiguan, Toyota C-HR, Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga and the Nissan Qashqai.

Nissan Qashqai

With the latter model – the Qashqai – the Austral shares its platform. Just as the Kadjar did with the previous generation Qashqai. It is the first Renault model to be based on the third generation of the CMF-CD platform – developed jointly with Nissan and Mitsubishi. The Austral is a size bigger than the new Qashqai, though. At 4.51 meters long, it is eight centimeters longer than its Japanese brother and two centimeters longer than the Kadjar. The wheelbase is the same as the Japanese: 2.67 meters.


The Autral is not only larger than the model it replaces, it also looks a bit tougher thanks to its clean lines. In addition, the grille of the chunky SUV has no bars but hundreds of diamond shapes, making for an aggressive nose. The recognizable C-shaped light units closely resemble those of the new Mégane E-Tech Electric.

Esprit Alpine

The Austral is the first passenger car from Renault to launch an extra sporty-looking Esprit Alpine version. The Esprit Alpine-line now replaces the R.S-line at Renault. You know Alpine, of course, as the Renault Group’s sports car brand and Formula One team. With the new equipment level, the French want to make the connection with the sporty branch a bit more visible. It is therefore – as with the R.S. line – about external appearance and not higher power and performance.

Sinister look

The Austral with the Alpine package is dressed up nice and dark, with a lot of black accents around the car. Think black wheels, window trim, mirror caps and sills. Alpine logos, of course, are not missing from the exterior either. The trims and headrests also feature the familiar A logo, and the belts and seats have blue stitching. A sinister matte gray paint color is available at an additional cost, only on the Esprit Alpine trim.

Mégane E-Tech Electric

The interior of the Austral is almost identical to that of the Mégane E-Tech Electric. That’s good news, because that means you can get two large 12-inch displays running Android Automotive in Austral as well. This infotainment system uses a variety of Google apps – such as Google Maps and Google Assistant – and works at lightning speed. Indeed, it is perhaps the fastest system on the market today. Note that you do not get the large infotainment screen in the base version. Then you have to make do with 9-inch screen. If you want to take in even more information, you can also get a 9.3-inch head-up display.

Luggage space Renault Austral

That the Austral is a hefty SUV is especially noticeable all the way in the back. There is room for 500 liters of luggage space there, some 25 liters more than goes into the Kadjar. Throwing the rear seats flat creates 1,525 liters of space. A sliding rear seat is optional, allowing you to create an additional 75 liters of space if passengers have little need for legroom. The bench can be moved up to 16 inches.

Under the cargo floor you can also store a lot of stuff. But note that in the E-Tech Hybrid version, the 12-volt battery is under the charging floor. As a result, you can put very little stuff in this spot. Since the luggage space above the cargo floor is still generous, this is good to live with.

Not fully electric

Unlike the new Mégane, the Austral is not all-electric. The Austral enters the market with a whole new 1.2-liter three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine. As standard, it is good for 130 horsepower and works in conjunction with a 48-volt mild hybrid system. The starter motor gives an occasional push during acceleration, which, according to Renault, makes consumption very low. Whether that is true, we will investigate later during a longer test period in the Netherlands. Shifting is always manual with this engine variant.

E-Tech Hybrid

If you want an automatic, go for the full hybrid version: the Austral E-Tech Hybrid. This version has no plug, but a self-charging powertrain derived directly from Renault’s Formula One technology. That sounds like a marketing pitch, but there is indeed a pretty advanced piece of technology under the hood.

In fact, the 200-hp powertrain also consists of the same 1.2-liter three-cylinder gasoline engine, but is aided by not one, but two electric motors. One of the electric motors provides propulsion along with the gasoline engine, and the other, as in the mild-hybrid, acts as a starter motor and generator. So that can generate energy during braking.

The gearbox has no clutch, so the Austral always drives away on the electric motor. As a result, you always drive off at the stoplight nice and smoothly, as you benefit from the readily available torque from the electric motor. The gasoline engine jumps in later and charges the battery regularly. The complex but very quiet powertrain gives you the feeling that you are almost always driving electric, unless you are really pedaling hard. A handsome performance by the French.

New yet familiar

The Austral’s E-Tech Hybrid powertrain is completely new, but is very reminiscent of the hybrid powertrain you can get in the Renault Arkana and Clio, and which is also in the Nissan Juke and Dacia Jogger. The difference? In those models, the hybrid powertrain uses a 1.6-liter atmospheric four-cylinder and in the Austral it is a blown 1.2-liter three-cylinder.


The new Austral is the first Renault model available with third-generation ‘4CONTROL Advanced’ all-wheel steering. Quite unique in this segment, usually only big Germans or stately French sedans, such as the Renault Talisman, have a co-steering rear axle. The Austral’s rear wheels steer up to a maximum of 5 degrees, resulting in a very small turning radius. In narrow streets of Spanish villages traversed during our test drive, we managed to turn the hefty SUV without much effort – and few stings – thanks to the 4CONTROL system.

What does the Renault Austral cost?

Get into an Austral starting at 36,480 euros. You then get the mild-hybrid with 130 hp. For the 200-horsepower E-Teech Hybrid, you have to transfer at least 43,000 euros to Renault. We tell you all the details about the Austral – and how it drives – in the video below: