Renault Austral enters crossover market with rear-wheel steering
The global crossover market has reached and crossed its saturation point. If a manufacturer now has to enter this space, they have to bring something special. Replacing the aging Kadjar, Renault Austral brings just that, in the form of rear-wheel steering.
The Austral is longer than the Kadjar it replaces, at 4.51 metres long. This has liberated more space inside the crossover for more cargo. You can get a maximum rear cargo space of 575 litres, depending on the version.
The looks of the Austral are that of a generic crossover with some special touches from Renault. The boomerang-shaped headlamp units gel well with the grill, giving it a signature Renault face. To make matters a bit spicier, the Austral gets an Espirit Alpine version as its range-topper. This model rides on 20-inch black aluminum wheels, blacked-out body elements, and an exclusive Satin Shale Gray colour for the body. The Espirit Alpine trim also gets a blend of Alcantara and leather for the interior, along with blue stitching, aluminum pedals, and Alpine logos.
The Renault Austral does not run short of tech. Screen-wise, the Austral gets a 12-inch vertical touchscreen, 12.3-inch digital drivers display, as well as a 9.3-inch head-up display. Amping up this list are matrix headlamps, 360-degree parking camera, and Level 2 autonomous driving tech.
Power for the Renault Austral comes from a turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine with a 48V mild-hybrid tech. This base engine makes 130 hp and gets mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox. Being a tiny engine, it drinks fuel to the tune as low as 5.3 litres/100 km. Sitting on top of this is a larger 4-cylinder engine co-developed with Mercedes-Benz. This mill has 1.3-litres of displacement and the same mild-hybrid tech. It can be had with either a 6-speed manual or an X-Tronic automatic transmission. The power output is 140 hp with the manual transmission and 160 hp with the automatic.
Topping off the range is an E-Tech hybrid model with a full hybrid system based on the 1.2-litre engine. This combination can be had with either an output of 160 hp or 200 hp. The fuel efficiency figures are even better, sipping just 4.6 litres/100 km.
The lower trims of the Renault Austral get a torsion beam rear suspension. But the higher trims get a multi-link setup. This is not only to improve the comfort but also to facilitate the addition of rear-wheel steering. Renault calls it 4Control Advanced. This may be the one special item the Austral needs to carve its own space in the crowded segment. Do you think so?