the new best enemy of the Peugeot 3008!

Austral: reset required

We can’t be beat around the bush, the Kadjar (2015) is no expected success for Renault. Apart from the second generation Peugeot 3008 which stole the show in 2016, the diamond SUV family is flawless, especially in terms of on-board presentation. So at Renault, we decided to draw a line under the past and roll up our sleeves from scratch. To mark this break, what better than to change, in addition to the technical platform, the name? If some regret that it is not sufficiently shown on the side of the body with a design close to the current Renaults, for others, the Austral turns the page and does not lack good arguments to seduce.

A Peugeot 3008 effects board…

Interior of the new Renault Austral.© Renault

Love at first sight when the door is opened: here is one of the great strengths that contributed to the success of the Peugeot 3008. If Renault has not reached its tricolor rival in its Austral dashboard layout with a steering wheel that is definitely square but not miniaturized., his SUV should still cause the expected “wow” effect. In fact Austral has adopted the “Open-R” dashboard inaugurated in the new electric Mégane which has attracted more modernity as the simplicity of using an interface completely Google.

Combining two generously sized “L-shaped” digital screens (12.3 inches for the counter and 9 or 12″ depending on the finish for the central touch screen), the whole original without neglecting the ergonomics while maintaining the real buttons like the air conditioning controls. Another good point, you can rely on an effective voice command to avoid taking your eyes off the road. In short, when one is settled on board, the Austral stands out against many competitors whose driving positions seem to come from the same mold as if they were very similar. Another reason for satisfaction, the presentation is generally neat in terms of materials and assemblies (especially in our top-of-the-range Iconic Esprit Alpine test model dressed in Alcantara), proves that the lessons of the Kadjar’s failure have been learned.

Practical mind

If SUVs have destroyed the MPV category, not many have stolen their guile. In fact, with the Citroën C5 Aircross or the Volkswagen Tiguan, the Austral is an exception in the category with a sliding rear seat. If it is not delivered as standard, the latter, divided into two parts (2/3-1/3) will slide 16 cm to improve the comfort of the rear passengers (also in good condition), or increase the trunk number. Note that the size of the latter (from 430 minimum to 575 dm3 with advanced sliding seat, according to Renault) is not the same depending on the engine.

Its best property: it can be a hybrid!

The Renault Austral is tough on the road in the Esprit Alpine finish.
The Renault Austral is tough on the road in the Esprit Alpine finish.© Renault

Certainly the loss of the diesel will upset the big rollers, but Austral puts the hybrid package together. Not just micro, technology that at least some have taken advantage of to create “gender” but in fact full-hybrid that allows to always run on electricity and that is the good days of his younger brother Arkana and Asian rival Toyota Rav4 and Hyundai Tucson in the lead. . At present wireless, the E-Tech technology used has never been here before. In fact, instead of the atmospheric 1.6 in the Clio E-Tech, Renault has inaugurated a new three-cylinder 1.2 turbo petrol engine associated with two electric motors, one for traction and the other further securing the role of the generator. Result, two versions of 160 or 200 ch as here in the test, are proposed. Tonic and sober with an average consumption of 7.3 l/100 km during our trip (to check with our measurements), the Austral E-Tech 200 hp is immediately positioned as one of the most recommended hybrid SUVs.

At the wheel, we see everything that makes the beauty of this type of engine with a system that works without interruption and silence in the city where driving with electricity is very common thanks to a battery that recharges quickly . Besides, we quickly got caught up in the game of electric refueling as quickly as possible while increasing the engine’s braking sensation by playing with regenerative braking via the steering wheel paddles. The only downside, if the atypical gearbox used is soft most of the time, it is not wrong in both cases. The first is to deliver some light hits that betray hesitation in continuous driving. The second is that it is slow to downshift and that it can be distracting when overtaking, a defect that, according to Renault, should be corrected by an update… which we will definitely check.

The rims in the Esprit Alpine finish go up to 20 inches.
The rims in the Esprit Alpine finish go up to 20 inches.© Renault

Magic rear-wheel steering

Renault didn’t invent rear-wheel steering technology, but it hasn’t been without it for top-of-the-range models since the Laguna (2008). Here we see this technology in an advanced form called 4Control Advanced. Now able to drive the front wheels of the opposition up to 5 ° (3.5 forward), they transform the Austral into a ballerina with exceptional agility on winding roads while also being useful for everyday use. life. In fact, the rear wheels driven make it possible to reduce the circle to 10.1 m, which is enough to transform the slots into a pleasure. Thus rigged, the Austral is placed immediately among the most exciting SUVs to drive but… it is impossible to say that it is a reference. In fact, in addition to the fact that this equipment is optional (1800 €) and reserved for high-end hybrid finishes and engines, it is related to a specific multi-link rear axle. Must check without these artifices, Austral is also beautiful…

Finally, in terms of comfort, note that our top-of-the-range test version with 20-inch wheels is not soft but “firm to carry”. Suitable for a finish with a sporty connotation but not necessarily the best choice for weak backs.

If it is clear that we do not say that the Austral is not expensive, Renault has nevertheless decided to ignore the range with an attractive price / equipment ratio and that you will find in detail here. What help to completely forget the failure of the Kadjar and attract customers in general? The future will tell…

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