The Renault Austral is the Renault brand’s new mid-size SUV and is expected in Ireland in spring/summer of 2023. Along with the recently launched Renault Megane E-TECH electric hatchback and the award-winning Renault Arkana – Irish Medium SUV of the Year 2022 – the aim is to regain the brand’s foothold in the C-segment, Europe’s most popular car segment. Sold exclusively as a hybrid, the new Austral replaces the Kadjar in the Renault line-up.

Caroline travelled to Madrid with Renault Ireland to drive the new Austral ahead of its arrival in Ireland in 2023.


The new Renault Austral will be one of the best-looking SUVs on Irish roads in 2023. It sports an evolution of Renault’s design language seen in the Megane E-TECH, but wrapped up in the stylish, rugged body of an SUV. It’s the second Renault model to wear the brand’s new logo, which is framed by a striking set of LED headlights. There’s a similarly stylish light signature at the rear. A sculpted bonnet adds even more attitude, fast becoming a new signature of Renault cars and SUVs. Alloy wheel sizes vary from 17-inch to 20-inch, most of which are diamond cut. Trim levels for Ireland are yet to be confirmed but it’s highly likely that the new range-topping ‘Esprit Alpine’ version will reach here. Inspired by the sporty roots of Renault’s legendary Alpine brand of performance cars, it’s available in exclusive Satin Shale Grey matte finish with special badging and numerous design upgrades inside and outside the car.

The new Renault Austral will arrive in Ireland in 2023!
The new Renault Austral will arrive in Ireland in 2023!


The Austral follows the lead of the new Megane E-TECH when it comes to interior design and technology – and then takes it to the next level again. It’s very stylish and high-tech inside, built around the large OpenR screen that combines a 12.3-inch instrument display with a 12-inch vertical multimedia screen and uses a Google operating system. Super glossy to look at, but it also works really well. For example, Google apps like Google Assistant, Google Play Store and Google Maps are integrated into it. This technology combines perfectly with the driver display, with a number of different views available – one which turns the whole thing into a mirror image of your route on Google Maps. There’s also an excellent head-up display available. Ventilation controls are accessed through the screen but there are some nice tactile buttons below to bring up the menu and adjust the temperature quickly.

We were driving top of the range Esprit Alpine models, which get lots of beautiful Alcantara trim inside and blue contrast stitching. The quality of the interior appears to be even better than what we’ve seen previously from the brand in the new Arkana for example, so we just have to see will this stay consistent throughout the range when the Austral arrives in Ireland next year.


The Austral has been designed as a practical, five-seat family SUV and feels roomy inside. Rear passengers will find knee-room that is on par with the best in class at 27.4 cm. There are practical storage compartment located throughout the interior amounting to about 35 litres of interior storage. Renault has also brought back the 60:40 sliding rear bench in the Austral. That means the rear bench can be adjusted to maximise legroom for rear seat passengers or boot space, expanding capacity from 430 litres to 555 litres.

The interior of the new Austral
The interior of the new Austral


In Ireland, the Renault Austral will be available exclusively as a hybrid. The new range-topping hybrid uses a 1.2-litre, three cylinder petrol engine, 2 kWh 400V battery and 50kW electric motor, and will put out 200hp in the version that reaches Ireland. In some markets, an Austral petrol mild hybrid will also be available.

The new hybrid is a significant evolution of Renault’s hybrid technology and promises better performance and refinement than before, while also reducing fuel use and CO2 emissions – 105 g of CO2/km, pending certification.

On the road

The new Renault Austral is the first Renault to use the CMF-CD platform and also debuts Renault’s third generation four-wheel steering that has been steadily improved over the past 15 years – 4Control Advanced. It won’t be standard on every model, but the cars we drove at the launch in Spain all featured it. It improves the car’s agility and driver engagement, with a turning circle of just 10.1 metres, rivalling a supermini. The Austral chassis comes in two versions: flexible torsion beam for two-wheel steering models and a more sophisticated multi-link rear axle with 4Control Advanced for four-wheel steering models. With the addition of a steering actuator on the multi-arm rear axle, the steering angle of the rear wheels is now 5°. Combined with the Multisense system, there are also now 13 different setting options, up from three previously!

The Austral will be exclusively hybrid
The Austral will be exclusively hybrid

On the road, the Austral feels immediately sophisticated and powerful. The delivery of power is smoother and stronger than in the Arkana 1.6 hybrid for example. The extra power helps, and the new hybrid offers more refinement too. The Austral weighs about 1500 kg, which certainly makes for a nice experience behind the wheel. Granted all versions we tested featured four wheel steering, but the Austral offered a precise and fun driving experience around the mountain roads above Madrid. It grips willingly, while the four wheel steering and assorted driving modes with varying levels of assistance add to a sense of connection between the car and driver that is rare in the segment. It also rides very well on large wheels, but there is wind whistle around the wing mirrors on the motorway at high speeds. And we can’t give a verdict on what front wheel drive models will be like without four wheel steering and the more sophisticated rear suspension.

So is it efficient? During my test drive, I saw consumption as low as 5.3 litres per 100 km and as ‘high’ as 6.1 litres per 100 km. The Austral hybrid does not need to be plugged in and charged to get the best efficiency from the vehicle.

Pricing and Equipment

Pricing and equipment for the Austral in Ireland will be confirmed closer to launch. The new Austral will slot into the range above the Arkana, which is currently on sale from €30,790 for a petrol mild hybrid and from €33,590 for a 1.6 hybrid.

The new Austral is packed with 32 advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), up from 26 in the Megane E-TECH and 16 in the Arkana. They include a latest-generation head-up display, level 2 driving automation with Active Driver Assist, a 3D camera for 360° vision, full park assist and a detection system that prevents the car from pulling out if another vehicle is overtaking.

Boot space in the new Renault Austral
Boot space in the new Renault Austral


The new Renault Austral arrives in a segment that has been steadily moving towards hybrid and alternatives to traditional diesel engines that used to reign supreme in this segment. It presents challenges to carmakers to create more efficient SUVs with less emissions, while also being practical and good to drive.

Renault chooses a standard hybrid approach for new Austral, which they propose as a more practical motoring solution for their customers – the relative simplicity of it, efficiency without caveats of daily charging, and it’s light, bringing a natural edge to on the road performance and driver engagement.

So far the range-topping versions tested with Renault’s third generation four wheel steering shine for that powerful hybrid and smooth, agile drive, while also returning the sort of efficiency that rivals some diesels and small petrol hatchbacks. So much so that I suspect you won’t actually miss diesel from the range.

This will be a stylish offering inside and out, with a great cabin experience and step forward in connectivity that means it’s light years away from the Kadjar it replaces.

Renault makes a welcome return to the mid-size family SUV segment with the Austral!

The new Renault Austral will be one of the most stylish SUVs on Irish roads in 2023
The new Renault Austral will be one of the most stylish SUVs on Irish roads in 2023


Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year