Renault Austral: First drive in the Kadjar successor

With the Austral, Renault not only wants to replace the Kadjar, the French also want to bring more smart, high-quality materials, better quality and unique technology to the customer. To make it short, it is quite successful in most respects. As soon as you climb the Austral, you have a really good feeling. The padding is firm, provides wide seat support, but thanks to the side supports there is sufficient support in the curves.

The interior is comfortable yet modern, enhanced by real wood inlays, and the large palm rest in the center console clicks like the bezel of a watch when moved. It also serves as a support when operating the so-called open-air display, which is quite large with a diameter of 30 centimeters and thanks to a 90 degree rotation extends upright to the center console.

Austral lacks the necessary stability in fast turns.

In the background of both digital screens, because a 12-inch screen is also installed directly in front of the driver, Google Automotive Services is at work. Ergo, infotainment tasks such as mobile communication, navigation and music playback are controlled by touch, just like on a smartphone or tablet. This runs smoothly on the high-resolution screen, and the voice control is similarly docile when asked.

As a mild and full hybrid

Now, however, the described is not immediately available in the entry-level variant, which is available for 29,900 euros in mild hybrid 140, with a 140 hp three-cylinder and 12-V hybrid support, but only in the highest equipment line Esprit Alpine, which from 44,400 euros.

As a full hybrid, the Austral is quite frugal on the first trip with a consumption of 5.9 liters over 100 kilometres.

As a full hybrid, the Austral is quite frugal on the first trip with a consumption of 5.9 liters over 100 kilometres.

Alpine? Does something ring? Exactly, it is the sporty offshoot of Renault, whose brand here stands for the full hybrid. The three-cylinder produces 131 hp, supported by an electric motor that is supplied by a 1.7 kW battery and contributes a further 68 hp. This results in a system output of 200 hp.

It sounds adequate and sporty. It is. At least as long as the battery has the necessary charge and the electric motor is there to help on the side of the internal combustion engine. It goes from zero to 100 km/h in 8.4 seconds and has a top speed of 174 km/h.

Instead of a gearbox, it is the 12 V starter generator that ensures exchange and interaction between both types of drive. This has the advantage that the small internal combustion engine does not scream unnecessarily when the power is brought in to prove how high it can rev. On the other hand, it leads to a clearly noticeable jerk when changing game types. It doesn’t matter whether the Renault is driven in comfort, eco or sport mode.

Alpine does not mean sporty

In the latter, neither the name Alpin nor the steering wheel, which is flat at the top and bottom, are useful. The control is not really direct. Not even when fine-tuned using the Multi-Sense Advanced program. In addition, the brakes are very soft and not easy to control. The chassis allows the Austral to dive deep into fast corners, which doesn’t really boost confidence.

The light graphics at the rear of the Renault Austral are somewhat reminiscent of the Porsche Macan.

The light graphics at the rear of the Renault Austral are somewhat reminiscent of the Porsche Macan.

But if you avoid excessive cornering, you will be rewarded with a fine springy chassis and an extremely well-insulated internal combustion engine. In addition, there is a diesel-like consumption of 5.9 liters experienced on the first test ride of just under 200 kilometers. As said mostly in the mountainous jumble of curves in the Spanish Sierra de Guadarrama.

Small turning circle, enough space

Driving uphill naturally has an advantage, as in the increased city traffic, the battery can stay well charged with the help of the collected braking and rolling energy, so that the power reserve does not dry up. Speaking of city traffic and mountains. Another thing not to scoff at for the Esprit Alpine-equipped Austral is the steering rear axle. It turns up to five degrees and allows Austral, which is 4.51 meters long, to easily whiz around even in tight turns. In addition, there is a turning circle of 10.1 metres.

The rear seat can be moved 16 centimeters in length in a 60:40 ratio.

The rear seat can be moved 16 centimeters in length in a 60:40 ratio.

This is as comfortable for the driver as the seating conditions are for the passengers in the second row. Depending on the position of the rear seat, which can be moved 16 centimeters in length in a 60:40 ratio, the trunk offers 430 to 555 liters of trunk volume.

The volume of the luggage compartment ranges from 430 to 1445 litres.

The volume of the luggage compartment ranges from 430 to 1445 litres.

Completely flat, 1455 liters of storage space is available. So off to the southern hemisphere with Austral. Because nothing else means the name, which is borrowed from Latin.

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