Renault Austral review - Interior, design & technology
The interior is a mixed bag of some neat touches, and a few quality issues. The standout part is the infotainment system
You can’t get away from screens in the Renault Austral, whether it be the 12.3-inch display in front of the driver, or the 12-inch portrait touchscreen hung over the dashboard. The former deals with speed, trip, and autonomous safety tech, while the latter looks after everything else, from infotainment to climate controls.
The interior looks smart with flashes of metallic-looking finishes, lots of piano black trim, and a decent amount of soft-touch plastic. You must plump for mid-range techno esprit Alpine and above to get flashes of blue ‘esprit Alpine’ trim and stitching across the seats. It looks to be up to class standard in terms of quality, but hard plastics are used lower down on the dashboard and door cards, and the air vents are needlessly flimsy.
Powering the large central screen is a speedy Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, which helps make this the slickest running infotainment system we’ve yet come across in a Renault. Its fast reaction times to inputs are mirrored by the standard sat-nav mapping that’s provided by Google software. Navigation information can be shown on the central screen and be repeated in the driver instrument cluster.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
Every version of Austral comes with a 12-inch touchscreen that runs an impressive Google-powered infotainment system called OpenR Link – the same system featured in the Megane E-Tech.
It works superbly, with the voice control offering the usual intuitive integration we've come to expect from the software giant’s systems – you can even control items in your home from the car using voice control. The graphics are sharp, and the interface looks smart in areas where the Google link is obvious (mainly the mapping on both the main display and the digital dash). Overall, it’s one of the better infotainment systems in the class.
We’re yet to try the standard eight-speaker sound system, but the upgraded 12-speaker Harman Hardon system fitted to the range-topping Iconic Esprit Alpine model we drove sounds excellent.
In this review
- 1Renault Austral reviewThe Austral is a strong effort from Renault, but it’s unlikely to dominate the ultra-competitive family SUV market
- 2Engines, performance and driveIt wafts nicely under electric power around town, but rivals have smoother hybrid systems and a better ride at speed
- 3MPG, CO2 and running costsExcellent fuel economy, low emissions, and slow depreciation mean the Renault Austral should be very cost-effective to run
- 4Interior, design and technology - currently readingThe interior is a mixed bag of some neat touches, and a few quality issues. The standout part is the infotainment system
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceWhile the Austral’s cabin has some clever touches, it can’t quite match the overall load capacity of its rivals
- 6Reliability and safetyA top-draw safety score and lots of standard driver assistance tech are positives but some interior foibles undermine the feeling of quality