New Renault Austral: it’s French for Qashqai twin

Published: 09 March 2022

► Renault Austral SUV revealed
► Hybrid versions, new Alpine trims
► Unconfirmed whether it’ll come to the UK

Renault’s re-entering the mid-size crossover market with the new Austral SUV. The new family car shares a lot of DNA with the latest Nissan Qashqai, with mild and proper hybrid power variants and a sharp look inside and out.

The new Austral is designed to take on a whole heap of family cars very much like the Qashqai, including the Ford Kuga, Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson. Renault says the Austral will be available to order in the summer, but it’s unconfirmed whether it’ll make it to the UK.

Yep – looks like a Renault…

The Austral takes a lot of design cues from the new Megane E-Tech electric car, with curved DRLs and a blocky front apron. There’s loads of chunky cladding around the fringes – almost a staple in this segment of car – and, again, the rear end has horizontal tail lights that stretch towards the middle; a Renault design cue of late.

austral rear static

Inside, the Austral again steals tech and details from the Megane E-Tech including a portrait central touchscreen using the new OpenR infotainment system, available in either nine-inch or 12.3-inch sizes.

In terms of tech beyond the infotainment system, Renault says the Austral has all the usual safety aids, as well as an enormous head-up display and rear-wheel steering on the options list.

Renault’s included a wrist rest in the centre console to better use the screen on the move, as well as some other handy cubbies. The rear seat bench slides back and forward, allowing the 500-litre boot area to expand to 575 litres on the regular version, or from 430 litres to 555 litres on the E-Tech hybrid model.

austral infotainment

As well as all this, the Austral is the first car to use the new Esprit Alpine trim level. Think of it like Think of it like BMW’s M Sport or Ford’s ST-Line variants which add sportier details inside, bigger wheels and a racier bodykit – something Renault boss, Luca de Meo, had planned to start introducing not long after he took office.

You mentioned hybrid power?

The Austral still uses engines – despite all of the tech stolen from Renault’s new Megane EV – albeit electrified in some way.

First up are two 1.3-litre 12v mild hybrid offerings with 138 or 158bhp, with Renault claiming 39.7mpg and 136g/km for the 158bhp version. Confusingly, there’s also an ‘advanced’ 48v mild hybrid engine with 128bhp, which Renault says is capable of 44.3mpg and 123g/km.

austral rear tracking

Elsewhere is a full hybrid E-Tech model, which consists of a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo working with a 1.7kWh battery and e-motor to develop a system output of 197bhp. Renault says the Austral E-Tech can reach 51.1mpg and emit as low as 105g/km. The E-Tech versions have an ‘E’ next to the Austral badging on the back – gold on regular ones, blue on Essence Alpine trims – which just makes it look like it says ‘Australe’ on the back. Weird.

Renault Austral: prices and specs

Details are still TBC on pricing, and Renault’s UK division tells us the brand hasn’t even confirmed yet whether the Austral will even make it over here. Even so, the brand plans to open sales from summer 2022 in Europe.

Read our Renault reviews here

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, office Geordie, gamer, lover of hot hatches

Comments