Just presented, the Renault Austral is already ahead of the “Lion King”, the Peugeot 3008, with more arguments than the Kadjar it replaces. Auto-Moto confronts the two in a first virtual match.
Officially presented at the beginning of March 2022 after several weeks of teasers, the Renault Austral is evolving greatly to replace the Kadjar and its relative success. What to calm the ardor of the Peugeot 3008, commercial box since its debut in 2016? In any case, Austral advances a few cards, as we will see in this first virtual match.
A close exterior design
Renault wanted to start from scratch to replace its Kadjar. Thus, the manufacturer changed platform by using the new CMF-CD of the Alliance. The size has therefore evolved, with 4.51 m long. It’s barely more than the 3008, which stops at 4.45 m. The front of the Austral uses the recipe of the recent electric Mégane, with C-shaped LED headlights framing a generous grille. This is made up of small vertical facets and a chrome strip connecting the optics. In the center, the brand’s new logo. The bottom of the bumper has a sports blade identical to that of the electric Mégane E-Tech depending on the version chosen. At the rear, the lights are also C-shaped, with a band cut by the Renault logo and the surname in full.
In profile, the Diamond SUV is reminiscent of the 3008 with black wheel arches, a slight drop in the side glazing and fenders marked with body creases. But facing him, the Peugeot 3008 plays a more aggressive score. The whole seems less round and more dynamic. The Lion model has many sharp edges and a wider front studded grille, framed by LED headlights and bright crocs as daytime running lights. At the rear, the Sochalien has a black headband connecting three-claw LED lights, slightly smoked since the restyling in 2020.
On board: Renault is catching up
The passenger compartment of the Renault Austral has made a real leap forward compared to that of the Kadjar which it replaces. From the outset, the materials are more qualitative with wooden inserts and more elaborate upholstery, in addition to the use of recycled materials. The dashboard is inspired by the electric Mégane, with the new inverted L-shaped screen architecture. The multimedia interface is provided by Google, and is displayed on a 12-inch portrait format panel for the central screen, while the counters are on a 12.3-inch horizontal panel behind the steering wheel.
The Austral differs from the Mégane by a taller center console, offering a cocoon-like feel. On this console, we also note the appearance of a new sliding hand rest, which reveals an empty pockets, a cup holder and an induction charger for smartphones. Finally, Renault has made it a point of honor to maintain good modularity thanks to a 40/60 rear bench seat sliding over 16 cmwhere the 3008 only offers a fixed seat.
In the 3008, even after six years of career, the dashboard still has its little effect. Here too, the cocoon feeling is reinforced by the high center console, which extends towards the dashboard and turns into a line of shortcuts thanks to the “piano keys”. The materials used are rewarding, especially on the GT and GT Pack versions which are entitled to aged oak wood inserts and burgundy leather with the most beautiful effect. The small steering wheel is topped by a 12.3-inch screen for the meters, complemented by a second 10-inch touchscreen for infotainment.
Finally hybridization for Renault’s compact SUV
For its new model, Renault is betting on gasoline and electrification. No more diesel is offered unlike the Peugeot 3008. The Austral benefits from a new three-cylinder 1.2 turbo, available in two variants. The first has a 48 V micro-hybridization, thanks to a battery and an alternator-starter, and develops 130 hp. The second is a new E-Tech hybrid version, offering a choice of 160 or 200 hp. The gasoline unit is associated with a 50 kW electric motor and a 1.7 kWh battery, as well as a dog clutch box. Finally, to complete the range, a four-cylinder 1.3 TCe equipped with a 12 V micro-hybridization with 140 or 160 hp.
For its part, Peugeot uses the rechargeable hybrid with two versions, 225 and 300 hp. The latter is also delivered automatically with all-wheel drive. Renault explains that the idea for the moment is to offer a simple vehicle with no charging constraints, but it is not excluded that the Austral will subsequently benefit from a rechargeable hybrid too, the technology being already used on the Captur and Mégane 4. In addition to these hybrid engines representing the top of the basket, the Peugeot 3008 also offers two petrol and diesel engines of 130 hp each, the range having been reduced after the discontinuation of the 180 hp versions.
The 4Control steered wheels versus the Peugeot “feel of the road”
The Peugeot 3008 is renowned for its dynamism and impeccable handling, in particular thanks to precise and incisive steering. To counter these qualities, Renault opposes the steering rear wheels on the Austral. This is equipped with the third generation of 4Control, which is fitted for the first time to an SUV. This new version increases the steering angle of the rear wheels by up to 5 degrees (compared to 3.5 degrees previously) to enhance the model’s agility. The turning radius also wins since it goes to 10.1 m, the equivalent of a city car.
Verdict: the promising Austral… but until when?
At the end of this first virtual match, which we will soon complete with a “real” meeting, the Austral stands out from the Kadjar with more extensive arguments. Its interior is much more modern and finally at the level of the Sochalien, while hybridization (not rechargeable to begin with) and rear-wheel steering arrive in the catalog. It remains to be seen whether these assets will suffice against the still popular 3008, which is not likely to rest on its laurels. Indeed, Peugeot is already preparing the next generation of the SUV, scheduled for next year. Response after the Austral is marketed, expected in the fall of 2022.
Photos : DR.
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