What can Renault’s new Austral do?

Renault wants to send another contender against the VW Tiguan in the race. Because after the French could do little with the Kadjar against the best-selling SUV in the European compact class, Austral now had to take the competition. This will be available in November at prices starting at 29,900 euros.

Almost no differences in dimensions and design

Austral, whose name incidentally means south, must stand for a new beginning. However, Renault uses the already established group platform CMF-CD for the compact SUV, which is also used for Nissan’s Qashqai. Austral gets a wheelbase of 2.67 meters and a length of 4.51 meters. Although it is hardly larger than the Kadjar, the space in the back seat should be sufficient in most cases. Especially in the higher equipment variants, where the three parts of the rear seat can be moved individually by up to 16 centimetres. But the gain in knee room is at the expense of the luggage compartment, which holds 575 to 1525 litres.

In terms of design, there is also little difference between the Kadjar. Exceptions are the crescents of the driving light in the LED headlights and the continuous chrome lock in the grille. In addition, the contours are now even more striking.

Renault proves considerably more innovative spirit in the interior. Because in addition to the large touchscreen, which is adorned vertically in front of the dashboard, there are a few other digital instruments. And so that the touch screen is easy to reach, there is a wide palm rest on the center console. Although it all looks very tidy and is easy to use, ergonomists and designers have done a poor job around the steering wheel. Four handles stick out from behind and cause a lot of confusion for the driver.

New orientation for the engines

A lot has also happened under the hood. No, there is no battery version and no plug-in hybrid either. Because if you want to drive electric, you must finally buy the Mégane E-Tech, with which Renault, for example, competes with the VW ID4. But this time the French do without a diesel engine and offer only a petrol engine. In addition, it is a completely new breed: Even the basic model runs with a mild hybrid and has 103 kW/140 hp with a displacement of 1.3 liters. And as a replacement for an economical but powerful diesel, there is a full hybrid, which Renault combines a 1.2-liter turbo petrol engine with 96 kW/131 hp with two electric motors with a total of 50 kW/68 hp.

Because the battery only holds 1.7 kWh, Austral only drives a few hundred meters at a time purely electrically. But thanks to electrification, the Austral has as much power and as little thirst as a diesel. While it accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.4 seconds, it consumes an average of just 4.6 liters and thus has CO2 emissions of 105 g/km.

But unlike the diesel, the hybrid is extremely quiet – especially when, despite its modest battery capacity, it surprisingly often puts the petrol engine on pause. This happens especially in city traffic, where the Austral shows another strength: It is the only one in this class that comes with four-wheel steering, which noticeably reduces the turning circle. The car therefore feels as if it has shrunk, especially when manoeuvring.

Conclusion: new name, old concept

While Renault is making progress with the Austral, it is not necessarily breaking new ground. Cut, equipment, ride and voice make a decent impression. And the calm but elegant design is also successful. But there are still two points of criticism which should make life difficult for him, at least in Germany. First, no model variant goes faster than 174 km/h. And secondly, it is not available with four-wheel drive. He will therefore probably not be a dangerous competitor for the Tiguan.

Data sheet: Renault Austral E-Tech Full Hybrid 200

Engine and drive Four-cylinder petrol engine and two electric motors Displacement: 1119 ccm Max. Power: 147 kW/200 HP Max. Torque: 205 Nm Drive: front wheel drive Transmission: stepless automatic Dimensions and weight Length: 4510 mm Width: 1825 mm Height: 1618 mm Wheelbase: 2667 mm Empty weight: 1517 kg Payload: 584 kg Boot volume: 5575-15 liters Driving data: Top speed: 174 km /h Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 8.4 s average consumption: 4.6 liters / 100 km range: 1170 km CO2 emissions: 105 g/km fuel: super polluting class: EU6 energy efficiency class: A + costs: base price of Renault Austral: 29,000 euros basic price of E-Tech full hybrid 200: 40,400 euros type classes: kAK vehicle tax: 44 euros/year Important standard equipment: Safety: seven airbags, distance cruise control, rear camera Comfort: air conditioning, four-wheel steering, LED headlights Fuel-saving technology: hybrid drive

All information according to the manufacturer

© dpa-infocom, dpa:221013-99-112998/11

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