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Is the 2022 Renault Austral coming to Australia? Kadjar-replacing SUV targets Nissan Qashqai, Toyota C-HR with hybrid and mild hybrid powertrains

The Renault Austral is larger than the Kadjar but smaller than a Mazda CX-5.

Renault has revealed its electrified replacement for the unloved Kadjar, and it’s on the cards for Australia.

The new Austral SUV will fill the gap in Renault’s global line-up left by the Nissan Qashqai-twinned Kadjar that only lasted one year on the Australian market.

The Austral adds to Renault’s expanding small SUV stable that already includes the South Korean-sourced coupe-style Arkana, and the Megane E-Tech EV that recently launched in Europe.

It is underpinned by the latest version of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s CMF-C/D platform that also forms the basis of the upcoming new-generation Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail, the Mitsubishi Outlander, new Renault Kangoo van and more.

In terms of dimensions, the Austral is larger than the Kadjar, measuring 61mm longer, 5mm taller and 25mm wider, while the wheelbase is 21mm longer.

It sits somewhere between the old Kadjar and a Mazda CX-5 size wise, meaning it could compete with larger small SUVs like its Qashqai cousin and the Kia Seltos, as well as the CX-5 and Honda CR-V in the medium SUV segment.

The Austral’s cargo area can swallow 500 litres, which is 28 more litres than the Kadjar, but this drops to 430L for the series hybrid.

All three powertrain options have some form of electrification, and there is no diesel option. The powertrain line-up starts with a 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with a 48-volt lithium-ion battery and starter motor delivering a total output of 97kW. It is paired with a manual gearbox and consumes 5.3 litres of fuel per 100km.

A 12-volt mild hybrid is also available paired with a 1.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine – developed with Mercedes-Benz – offering up 104kW when paired with the manual and 119kW/270Nm with the automatic transmission. This setup sips 6.2L/100km.

The flagship powertrain – for now – is the E-Tech series ‘self-charging’ hybrid that combines the 1.2-litre turbo-petrol engine with an electric motor and 1.7kWh, 400-volt lithium-ion battery, for a system output of 146kW and fuel use of 4.6L/100km.

Despite the mechanical relationship with the Nissan Qashqai, the two models have different hybrid setups. The Nissan uses a four-cylinder engine and delivers 140kW/330Nm, while consuming 5.3L/100km.

All three powertrains feature regenerative braking and the Austral chassis comes with two different suspension setups – torsion beam for two-wheel steering models and a multi-link rear axle with 4CONTROL Advanced for four-wheel steering.

A new range-topping model grade dubbed Esprit Alpine – referencing Renault Group’s flagship sports car brand – will be offered for the first time, with sporty exterior and interior design flourishes.

Inside, the Austral gets a big uptick in digital tech compared with the Kadjar. Renault calls the setup its ‘OpenR’ screen that combines a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with a 12-inch vertical multimedia screen. It also comes with a 9.3-inch head-up display.

There are few buttons on the dash fascia and the centre console is set high up to act as an arm rest for driver and passenger. The gear shifter is housed on a steering wheel stalk, like most Mercedes models, allowing space for a large console hand rest that Renault says makes using the touchscreen more comfortable.

It will be offered with a full suite of advanced driver assist features – Renault says 32 to be precise – including adaptive cruise control with stop and go, front and rear auto emergency braking, lane departure warning, safe exit warning and more.

A Renault Australia spokesperson said there were no details to share at this stage, adding: “but we welcome all right-hand-drive products and look forward to evaluating their suitability for our market”.

In the likely event that the Austral gets the green light for Australia, it could land in showrooms in 2023, given it is only going on sale in Europe in the fourth quarter this year. And given the popularity of hybrids, you could expect the series hybrid to be offered here.