Following a comprehensive campaign, the new Austral is finally here. Renault's first model to ride on the third-gen CMF-CD platform comes to replace the ageing Kadjar and brings a series of novelties. The most obvious is a completely different design as the compact crossover adopts a fresh exterior look and a high-tech cabin representing a significant departure from the model it replaces.
But first, let's talk about its size. The Austral is 4.51 metres long, 1.83 metres wide, and 1.62 metres tall, with a wheelbase measuring 2.67 metres. It makes it a tad longer and taller than its predecessor while being slightly narrower and carrying a stretched wheelbase. Cargo capacity varies from 500 to 575 litres depending on whether the vehicle has a fixed or sliding rear bench. Go for the full hybrid model and its extra hardware and the volume drops to 430 and 555 litres, respectively. Interior storage amounts to an extra 35 litres for smaller items.
Gallery: Renault Austral revealed
Power is provided by a turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine equipped with mild-hybrid tech described as being a "genuine alternative to diesel." Yes, there's no oil-burner available for the Austral as the Kadjar's dCi has been dropped. The 48V lithium-ion battery and starter motor are part of a setup making 128 bhp channelled to the wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox.
With this Mild Hybrid Advanced arrangement, Renault says fuel consumption is as low as 5.3 litres / 100 km with corresponding CO2 emissions of 123 g/km. Without the mild-hybrid tech, the engine would've been 20 percent thirstier, according to the company's internal estimations.
Then there's the similarly named Mild Hybrid with a larger four-cylinder 1.3-litre petrol mill. Co-developed with Mercedes-Benz, it works together with a 12V lithium-ion battery, a starter motor, and a six-speed manual or X-Tronic automatic transmission. With the three-pedal setup, the powertrain makes 138 bhp while the auto bumps it to 158 bhp and 270 Nm (200 lb-ft) of torque. The more potent system consumes 6.2 litres / 100 km and emits 136 g/km.
As for the E-Tech Hybrid model, it's the full hybrid model based around a 1.2-litre unit. It always starts in electric mode and can be had with a combined output of either 158 bhp or 197 bhp. It sips just 4.6 litres / 100 km and emits 105 g/km, prompting Renault to say it's one of the cleanest hybrid crossovers in its segment.
The lesser versions are stuck with a torsion beam rear suspension whereas the more expensive ones not only get multi-link but also rear-wheel-steering aka 4Control Advanced as it's known in its new third generation. The Austral is brimming with tech, including a 9.3-inch head-up display, 12-inch vertical touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, matrix LED headlights, 360-degree camera, and all the driver assistance systems necessary to meet level 2 autonomy.
A first for a Renault, the 2023 Austral inaugurates the Esprit Alpine serving as a range-topping trim with a sportier look. It rides on 20-inch wheels with a black aluminium look and Alpine branding whereas the lesser versions get smaller 17- to 19-inch alloys. It boasts an assortment of styling upgrades, including black accents and an exclusive Satin Shale Grey body colour. Inside, the flagship model combines Alcantara with Nappa leather and twill fabric resembling carbon fibre. There's also blue stitching and piping to spruce up the cabin, along with aluminium pedals and door sills featuring the Alpine logo.
Although it's being unveiled today, the Renault Austral won't go on sale until the fourth quarter of the year.