The all-new Austral SUV is the replacement for the Renault Kadjar, bringing bold new styling, a drastically enhanced kit list and all-electrified powertrains in a bid to "win back" buyers in the crucial crossover segment.
Positioned as a rival to the Ford Kuga and Toyota RAV4, it's the first Renault to use the new third-generation CMF-CD platform, co-developed with Alliance partners Mitsubishi and Nissan, which can accommodate a range of electrified drivetrains.
The Austral will be sold with a choice of two full-hybrid systems, pairing a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor for combined outputs of 157bhp and 196bhp.
Renault claims this set-up can muster as much as 61.4mpg on the WLTP combined test cycle while emitting just 105g/km of CO2.
There's also a mild-hybrid petrol option that Renault posits as a "genuine alternative to diesel", given that it's claimed to be capable of 53mpg. This pairs the same engine with a 48V battery and a belt-integrated starter-generator for an electric boost under load and thus reduced petrol consumption.
Opening the line-up is a pair of 12V mild-hybrid petrols, which use a 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine to produce 138bhp and 157bhp and crack 45.6mpg.
Renault says the new platform makes the Austral "a true joy to drive", hailing its rigidity and "optimised" suspension set-up as factors that give the potential for "true driving pleasure".
The Austral is equipped with torsion-beam rear suspension as standard, but top-rung cars with four-wheel steering get a multi-link set-up at the rear. These cars also get a 13:1 steering ratio (down from 14.7:1 as standard) for more precise handling and a turning circle of just 10.1 metres.
The structural reinvention for Renault's mid-size SUV comes alongside a wide-reaching design overhaul aimed at bringing it into line with the new Renault Mégane E-Tech Electric and boosting aerodynamic efficiency.
C-shaped headlights, a new Renault logo, 4x4-inspired chunky skidplates and alloy wheels measuring up to 20in in diameter are among the defining cues.
The Austral will be the first Renault model to come in an optional Esprit Alpine (spirit of Alpine) trim modelled on the look of Alpine's sports cars. It's painted in a unique shade of satin grey with contrasting black trim details, sits on bespoke 20in Alpine-badged alloys and comes with Alcantara-upholstered seats with blue stitching.
Renault has also visibly pushed upmarket inside, where the Austral dramatically departs from its forebear with a focus on material quality and enhanced technology.
The OpenR infotainment touchscreen fitted to higher-spec models is described as "one of the largest screens in the automotive market", comprising a 12.3in display screen and 12.0in infotainment screen in one digital panel. It's covered in Gorilla Glass to avoid scratches.
Buyers can specify the Austral's cabin with a raft of "sophisticated" materials, including wood, leather, Alcantara, padded textiles and other soft-touch, form-fitted materials.
Renault will start taking Austral orders in mid-2022 ahead of deliveries getting under way in the autumn, although it has yet to confirm whether it will be sold in the UK.