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Renault Austral 2023: sketches revealed ahead of March 8 debut


Design sketch shows a screens-dominated dashboard inside the Austral, with style championed to boost appeal versus Toyota C-HR and Subaru XV hybrid rivals

Renault is building anticipation for its incoming all-new Austral hybrid small SUV by confirming a March 8 reveal date and showing off its cabin’s giant portrait touchscreen.

The wagon-bodied Austral looks set to be a direct replacement for the Kadjar small SUV, which was pulled from sale in Australia in early 2021. Renault’s new Arkana also plays in the small SUV space, but with a more style-conscious and less family-friendly coupe body.

Renault Austral 2023 camo rear
Renault has released more sketches of the Austral ahead of its reveal on March 8

Renault’s Australian distributor Ateco has yet to confirm the Austral for our shores (how could they not with a name like Austral?) but it looks an obvious appointment to sell here alongside the sleek Arkana and between the Captur city SUV and Koleos mid-sizer.

Last month we reported on the Austral’s camouflaged exterior reveal, and now the French brand has gone to great lengths describing what the exterior is like – with the required liberal use of adjectives – rather than just simply showing us photos. But we know the French enjoy a long tease.

Renault Austral 2023 interior
The interior shows a wide array of screens and a very wide steering wheel

Tech-heavy cabin

On the inside, a design sketch shows a cabin near-identical to the recently-revealed Megane E-Tech electric car.

Declaring it an “athletic, sensual and technological SUV” the sketch shows a digital instrument panel merging into a vertical central screen with no knobs or buttons to be found in the centre console. Minimalism appears to be the focus, as do very sharp design lines.

In the Megane E-Tech that means a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster alongside a 12.0-inch portrait touchscreen. It features an ‘OpenR Link’ interface for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but also Google Maps and Google Assistant. Expect the Austral to receive likewise.

Spot the difference with the Megane E-Tech’s interior

New design language

We know Renault’s new exterior design language, as seen on the Megane E-Tech, will be a feature of the new Austral.

Highlights we’re promised include a “muscular silhouette,” an “eye-catching ride height and high beltline,” “curving shoulders,” a “chrome-plated horizontal line cutting across the top of the chequered grille” and “conspicuously contemporary chiseled LED lights.”

The Austral is set to launch in Europe in April or May this year, sharing its architecture with the Nissan Qashqai as part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s CMF-CD platform.

Three hybridized engines will be offered in the Austral from launch, but nothing pure electric for now.

Renault Megane E-Tech 2022-3
The Megane E-Tech has already been confirmed for Australia

The Megane E-Tech will do the heavy lifting on the full EV front for the time being, and as we reported earlier this month, that model should arrive in our market in 2023.

If and when Australia receives the Austral, it will give Renault its first player in the hybrid space down under. Its hybrid systems work similarly to Toyota’s, as seen in its C-HR and RAV4 hybrid SUVs.

With strong demand for hybrid SUVs on our shores the Austral looks the right SUV at the right time, and could help give the French brand the sales boost it desperately needs.

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