Renault Austral E-Tech review

Renault Austral E-Tech

There’s no doubt that the Renault Austral E-Tech has serious kerb appeal, but what’s this classy full hybrid like to drive?

Over the years I’ve driven dozens of electric vehicles. And if you can charge from home and you’re open to a change of mindset, there’s every reason to switch.

However, running an EV is not without its issues, thanks to the patchy public charging infrastructure and high price of electricity at rapid chargers.

Which brings me to this week’s test car – the Renault Austral E-Tech. It’s a full hybrid, so there’s no need to plug it in to charge, and in theory it can travel up to 683 miles between fuel stops. No range anxiety there then!

Renault Austral E-Tech

Don’t get me wrong, I’m an EV evangelist, but for many motorists not ready to make the transition to 100% electric or without off-street parking, a full hybrid is the next best thing.

Sure, they are not as kind to the planet as EVs, but the Renault Austral E-Tech can run in EV mode for reasonable distances, emits as little as 105g/km CO2 and can achieve up to 60.1mpg.

And as full hybrids go (its rivals include the Hyundai Tucson Hybrid, Nissan Qashqai e-Power, Honda ZR-V and Toyota RAV4), it’s definitely one of the best.

About the same size as another of its competitors (the Kia Sportage), Renault’s stylish replacement for the lacklustre Kadjar is a looker.

Renault Austral E-Tech

Priced from £34,695, the range begins with the Techno, which features 19-inch alloy wheels, matrix LED headlights, flush roof bars and parking sensors with rear-view camera, plus a hands-free key card with keyless entry.

The Techno Esprit Alpine adds 20-inch wheels, black carbon fabric and Alcantara upholstery with blue stitching, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, electric power tailgate, electric driver and front passenger seats with massage function for driver, traffic/speed sign recognition, and adaptive cruise control with lane centring.

Top-of-the-range Iconic Esprit Alpine gets 4Control Advanced four-wheel steering, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, 360-degree Around View camera, panoramic sunroof, and wireless phone charging.

Renault Austral E-Tech

So, as you can see, the Austral is well equipped. Additionally, all versions get a 12-inch infotainment touchscreen, a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display, 9.3-inch head-up display, plus a range of Google services built-in, including Google Maps, Google Assistant (voice control that works), and access to Google Play.

The Austral’s 196bhp hybrid system uses a gutsy new 1.2-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine, two electric motors and a small 2kWh battery.

Feeling swifter than the official 0-62mph acceleration time of 8.4 seconds, the Austral can travel in EV mode up to 70mph unless you plant your right foot, in which case the engine kicks in.

And joy of joys, there’s no CVT gearbox, which means the revs don’t go sky high when accelerating. Instead, the Austral E-Tech has a seven-speed automatic transmission (which uses Renault’s Formula 1-derived clutchless technology), driving the front wheels.

Renault Austral E-Tech

Our Techno Esprit Alpine test car also had four-wheel steering, giving the Austral E-Tech a 10.1m turning circle – that’s city car levels of manoeuvrability.

On the move, it allows the rear wheels to turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels at speeds of up to 30mph, helping to increase manoeuvrability. Plus, at speeds above 30mph, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the front wheels, for improved stability.

In fact, there’s a lot of clever stuff going on, including a suite of 30 advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

The Renault Austral E-Tech always starts in EV mode, then zips along smoothly, delivering an impressive blend of electric and petrol power, enhanced by impressive cabin sound deadening. If you’re in hurry, there’s a hesitation while the system decides what it’s going to do, but broadly speaking, it’s a very slick.

Renault Austral E-Tech

The ride is firm, but such is the joy of that punchy electrically-boosted powertrain, all is forgiven.

It’s set up for sporty handling, and works well. The steering is on the light side and the four-wheel steering turns in rather too eagerly initially, but you get used to it and after a while your confidence grows.

There’s also decent grip from those big wheels, and when pushed on more challenging roads, body lean is kept in check and it’s more agile than you might expect for a crossover.

There are four levels of regenerative braking accessible via the steering paddles, and after a while, you learn to charge the battery on long downhill runs or when coasting and braking, ready to deploy when needed. And the good news is that 55mpg is relatively easy to achieve, and in town you can get closer to 60mpg or more.

Renault Austral E-Tech

The Renault Austral E-Tech is dark inside – everywhere from the seats to the headlining and door cards. That said, it has a premium feel and it seems solidly put together.

There’s plenty of space up front, even if the lowest driving position is a tad high for taller drivers. Sliding rear seats allow you to juggle space between rear passengers and boot capacity. At its most generous setting, boot space is a useful 555 litres, rising to 1,455 litres with the rear seats flipped down.

So, the Austral E-Tech isn’t perfect, but after a few days it really grows on you. And let’s face it, 600-odd miles out of a tank of petrol is very welcome.

Verdict: The Renault Austral E-Tech is one of the best full hybrid family SUVs on the market. Good-looking, classy, packed with tech, practical and economical, it should definitely be on any family car shortlist.

Renault UK

Dacia Jogger Hybrid review

Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140

We drive the new full hybrid version of the Jogger – Dacia’s fantastic family car…

If ever a model epitomised Dacia’s value for money philosophy, then the Jogger is it.

In fact, it’s hard to believe that the Renault-owned Romanian budget brand only entered the UK market 10 years ago.

Launched just as the cost of living crisis began to bite in 2022, the basic petrol-powered Jogger couldn’t have been better timed.

Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140

Starting at just £17,295 it’s the cheapest seven-seater on the market by far and has wowed the critics.

Its trophies include Best Large Family Car at the 2023 UK Car of the Year Awards and Best Family Car at the Autocar Awards 2023.

Now the petrol-engined Jogger has been joined by a hybrid version – a first for Dacia.

Priced from £22,595, the Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140 pairs a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a couple of electric motors and a 1.2kWh battery.

Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140

Delivering up to 56.5mpg with CO2 emissions of 112g/km, it’s able to travel at speeds of up to 43mph on electric power alone.

In fact, Dacia claims it will run in silent all-electric mode up to 80% of the time on city roads, saving up to 40% on fuel compared to an equivalent petrol-only model.

And because it’s a full (or self-charging) hybrid, there’s no need to plug it in because it charges the small battery as it drives.

Just like the rest of the Dacia range, it’s been treated to the company’s bold new brand identity – a reflection of the company’s confidence.

Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140

Some 250,000 vehicles have been sold in the UK since 2013 and Dacia’s growth shows no sign of slowing with sales up 55% in 2022.

At first sight, the Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140 is much the same as its entry-level sibling, which is no bad thing.

It’s hard to categorise though, because it’s the length of an estate car, has the ground clearance of some crossovers, and yet boasts the interior versality of a people carrier, or even a LAV (Leisure Activity Vehicle).

It shares its attractive front end, complete with straked LED headlights, with the Sandero and Sandero Stepway, while its profile is distinctive and clever.

Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140

The rear gently rises up, allowing stacks of headroom and visibility inside for passengers in the stadium-style second row of seats, where there’s already impressive legroom.

The huge tailgate opens to reveal just 212 litres of cargo space with the third row of seats in place.  However, as a five-seater, you get a massive 699 litres of space. Fold these down and remove the third row of seats (easily done) and there’s a van-like 2,085-litre load bay.

What’s more, the battery is positioned under the boot (where the spare wheel goes in the regular Jogger), so there’s no loss of interior space.

Remarkably, the Jogger can genuinely seat seven people (I’m just under 6ft and I can fit in the third row), which is more than you can say for some other supposed seven-seaters for more than twice the price.

Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140

The Jogger also features Dacia’s clever roof rails, which swivel around to create a roof rack.

And a special mention for the new Sleep Pack accessory. Simple, removable and affordable, it turns the Jogger’s spacious interior into a bedroom for two in a matter of minutes!

The front cabin will be familiar to Sandero drivers, which means that it’s pretty basic and there’s no shortage of scratchy plastic, but it does the job. My only gripe is that the Jogger’s driving position is a little on the high side for my liking.

Apart from the obvious economy boost (I achieved 50mpg without even trying over a mixed driving route), the big difference is that the potent hybrid powertrain makes the Jogger experience a more relaxed affair.

Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140

The basic 108bhp 1.0-litre turbo petrol version is a punchy performer, but runs out of puff at higher speeds and probably struggles with a full complement of passengers.

The Hybrid 140 (138bhp) is a second faster to 62mph (10.1 seconds), more refined and easy-going. It also gets a clutchless automatic gearbox (the entry-level petrol makes do with a less than slick manual gearbox).

Always starting in pure electric mode, it can cover a brief distance at lower speeds before the combustion engine kicks in.

Switching between the petrol and electric motors is reasonably smooth and it’s satisfying watching EV mode flash up regularly in the driver’s instrument display, particularly when coasting along or going downhill.

Overall, it’s easy to drive with light steering and good visibility, while body lean is surprisingly well controlled when it’s hustled on twistier roads. Keep it sensible and the lightweight Jogger is nimble and good fun to drive.

Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140

There are no drive modes as such, but you can press an Eco button for extra efficiency, It dulls the driving experience, but probably makes sense in town or on motorway runs.

The automatic gearbox performs better than the CVT (continuously variable transmission) systems fitted to most hybrids, only occasionally getting caught out on hills.

If you want extra brake regeneration (useful downhill or coming up to junctions), simply slip the gear lever to ‘B’ and watch the battery charge indicator creep up.

The Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140 is available in two trims – Expression and Extreme SE. Expression includes front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, blind spot warning, keyless entry, heated and electrically adjustable door mirrors, automatic wipers and automatic air conditioning as standard. It also gets an 8.0-inch media display, with the benefits of DAB radio, smartphone replication, Bluetooth, four speakers, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140

The range-topping Extreme SE version adds 16-inch black alloy wheels, sliding tray tables, heated front seats and an 8.0-inch infotainment system with integrated navigation.

The only fly in the ointment for the Jogger at launch was its low Euro NCAP safety score. It was marked down for lacking some safety kit and driver assistance technology.

For the record, all Jogger models feature six airbags, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), anti-lock brakes (ABS), ESC (Electronic Stability Control) with ASR (Traction control) and Hill Start Assist (HSA) and a blind spot warning system. In other words, it’s still far safer than millions of older cars on the roads today.

It’s a shame to end on a negative note, because the Jogger is a superb all-round package, especially when every penny counts.

Verdict: The all-new Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140 doesn’t just offer fantastic value for money, it’s economical, easy to drive and a genuine seven-seater.

Dacia UK

Dacia Jogger Hybrid 140

Milestone as Dacia makes 10 millionth vehicle

Gareth Herincx

3 days ago
Auto News

Dacia celebrates 10 million vehicles

Dacia is celebrating the production of its 10 millionth vehicle since the value-for-money brand was born in 1968.

The Dacia Duster Extreme SE in Urban Grey was produced at the company’s plant in Romania.

Dacia celebrates 10 millionth vehicle

Dacia assembled its first vehicle, the Dacia 1100, in August 1968. The following year, the popular Dacia 1300 model was introduced. It inspired a whole family of derivatives such as the saloon, station wagon, sports coupe and LCV and remained in production for 35 years.

A new chapter in Dacia’s history was opened following its acquisition by Renault Group in 1999.

With the launch of Logan in 2004, Dacia became a global carmaker and the pace of sales accelerated. In 2005, Dacia opened a production line outside Romania, at the Somaca plant in Casablanca, Morocco.

Dacia launched in the UK in January 2013 and enjoyed the most successful start ever for a new car brand in the UK. So far, more than 220,000 Dacia vehicles have been sold. In all, Dacia vehicles are sold in 44 countries.

Within the 10 million vehicles produced, there have been:

  • 2.6 million Dacia Sandero and Sandero Stepway, the best-selling vehicle to private customers in Europe since 2017
  • 2.1 million Dacia Duster, the best-selling SUV to private customers in Europe since 2018
  • 1.95 million Dacia Logan and Logan MCV
  • 2.3 million Dacia 1300 (and variants)

“We are very proud to have passed the symbolic milestone of 10 million vehicles produced,” said Denis Le Vot, CEO of Dacia.

“This result rewards a pragmatic vision of the automobile, focused on what is essential to our customers.

“Building on its experience, Dacia will continue to grow and offer attractive vehicles that are adapted to our customers’ lifestyles.”

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Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

The Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid is an intriguing car. Its sleek ‘coupe SUV’ styling gives it serious kerb appeal, there’s plenty of room for all the family and it’s a full hybrid, so there’s no need to plug it in.

Add Renault’s solid five-year warranty, plus all the latest safety kit it comes with, and this Nissan Qashqai-sized crossover ticks a lot of boxes on paper.

Slotting between the Captur and Kadjar in the Renault range, the Arkana is available with two engine options – both fitted with automatic gearboxes.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

The TCe 140 model consists of a 1.3-litre mild hybrid petrol engine, offering 138bhp and a combined fuel consumption figure of 48.7mpg. It’s the quickest of the two Arkanas, reaching 62mph from rest in less than 9.8 seconds.

The car we tested, the E-Tech Hybrid, combines a 1.6-litre petrol engine with two electric motors, offering a total of 143bhp. Fitted with a small 1.2kWh battery, the system prioritises all-electric running unless full power is required and Renault claims it can return up to 58.9mpg with a 0-62mph time of 10.8 seconds, while CO2 emissions are a low 109g/km.

First impressions are good. The Arkana stands out from the crowd and looks particularly good in Zanzibar Blue. There’s a real feeling of space inside and the attractive dashboard layout is similar to the Captur, on which the Arkana is based.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

Soft-touch surfaces are welcome and overall build quality is impressive inside, while up front it’s more solid and functional than flash. There’s a digital instrument display behind the steering wheel and a portrait-shaped 9.3-inch infotainment touchscreen in the centre console (7.0-inch in the entry-level model).

The driving position is relatively high (the car itself is taller than you might think) and there’s ample leg and headroom for adults to travel comfortably in the rear. There’s a useful 480 litres to boot space (slightly down on the mild hybrid model which has no rear battery), expanding to 1,263 litres with the rear seats down.

Visibility is generally good. Our only gripe was that our test car was not fitted with a rear wiper, which is especially annoying on motorways in the wet.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

You’re likely to start off in EV mode and the petrol engine will only kick in if you boot it. Unfortunately, we soon discovered that the Arkana’s six-speed F1-derived clutchless auto transmission, which is supposed to be more efficient and smoother than a conventional automatic, is the car’s weak point.

The gearbox is sluggish and unpredictable at times, meaning that the engine’s revs rise alarmingly at the slightest encouragement. This often-noisy driving experience is a shame because the Arkana package as a whole has a lot right with it.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

There are three driving modes (Eco, Sport and MySense). The latter is effectively the ‘normal’ mode, and the setting you’re likely to leave the car in.

There’s also a button on the dashboard for manually switching to electric mode yourself, as well as a ‘B’ mode on the gear selector for extra regenerative braking (the system that adds charge to the battery by harvesting energy otherwise wasted during braking and coasting).

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

The transition from electric power to engine propulsion, and vice versa, is reasonably smooth – and engine noise aside – it’s no slouch. Naturally it’s hushed in EV mode, but it’s also fairly refined on a motorway cruise.

The Arkana’s set-up is on the firm side, so it handles surprisingly well with controlled body lean, there’s decent grip and it generally feels composed.

We tested the mid-range S Edition, though more spirited drivers might want to consider the top-of-the-range RS Line model which features sporty design cues. That said, we doubt that it is any more dynamic on the road, even in Sport mode.

We couldn’t get close to Renault’s claimed economy figures, but depending on your route and driving style, anywhere between 40-50mpg is realistic.

Verdict: It would be easy to dismiss the new Renault Arkana as a case of style over substance. Yes, it’s an eye-catching coupe SUV and, yes, there are some issues with the gearbox, but overall, it’s a comfortable, practical, quality package backed up by a decent five-year/100,000-mile warranty.

Renault Arkana E-Tech Hybrid review

Renault UK

Why Dacia owners have reasons to be cheerful

Dacia Sandero Stepway and Dacia Sandero

Dacia models have been praised for their value, comfort and reliability in a major new satisfaction study.

Renault’s Romanian budget brand scored exceptionally well in four satisfaction indexes conducted by readers of consumer motoring website Honest John.

Manufacturers and vehicles were assessed on reliability, build quality, fuel economy, repair costs and performance. Ride comfort, handling, ease of driving, practicality and technology were also considered, as well as safety.

Based on feedback from more than 5,000 owners, the low cost manufacturer was named Most Satisfying Car Brand in the Satisfaction Index 2021, pipping Lexus and Hyundai.

Most Satisfying Car Brand 

Rank Manufacturer Satisfaction Index Rating (%)
1 Dacia 91.6
2 Lexus 90.6
3 Hyundai 89.7
4 Kia 89.6
5 MG 89.4
6 Skoda 89.1
7 Subaru 89.0
8 Toyota 88.8
9 Porsche 88.7
10 Volkswagen 88.4

Dacia, which makes the popular Duster SUV, was just beaten by Japanese premium brand Lexus in the Most Reliable Car Manufacturer index.

Most Reliable Car Manufacturer

Rank Manufacturer Satisfaction out of 10
1 Lexus 9.81
2 Dacia 9.76
3 Mitsubishi 9.64
4 Toyota 9.63
5 Suzuki 9.59
6 Kia 9.54
7 Honda 9.51
8 Subaru 9.50
9 MG 9.48
10 Hyundai 9.48

Meanwhile, while the Dacia Sandero – still the UK’s cheapest new car – finished four in the Most Satisfying Car index, behind the Hyundai Ioniq, Volkswagen T-Roc and Mazda CX-5.

Most Satisfying Car

Rank Manufacturer and Model Satisfaction Index Rating (%)
1 Hyundai Ioniq (2016 – ) 95.7
2 Volkswagen T-Roc (2018 – ) 93.7
3 Mazda CX-5 (2017- ) 93.0
4 Dacia Sandero (2013 – 2021 ) 92.6
5 Skoda Kodiaq (2016 – ) 92.5
6 Honda CR-V (2018 – ) 92.5
7 Skoda Superb Estate (2014 – ) 92.2
8 Volkswagen Tiguan (2016 – ) 92.2
9 BMW 3 Series Touring (2012 – 2019) 91.8
10 Toyota Corolla (2019 – ) 91.6

The Sandero also gained a podium place in the Most Reliable Car category, again beaten by the Hyundai Ioniq and Volkswagen T-Roc.

Most Reliable Car

Rank Manufacturer and Model Satisfaction out of 10
1 Hyundai Ioniq (2016 – ) 9.93
2 Volkswagen T-Roc (2018 – ) 9.90
3 Dacia Sandero (2013 – 2021 ) 9.90
4 SEAT Leon (2013 – 2020 ) 9.86
5 Mazda CX-5 (2017- ) 9.83
6 Volkswagen Tiguan (2016 – ) 9.83
7 Honda Jazz (2014 – 2020 ) 9.82
8 Lexus NX (2014 – ) 9.82
9 Toyota Yaris (2011 – 2020) 9.79
10 Kia Sportage (2016 – ) 9.77

“What a tremendous recognition for Dacia that manufacturing a low cost car doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice any of the things that make your customers happy,” said Dan Powell, Senior Editor of

“Cheap does mean cheerful, with readers praising Dacia models for their value, comfort and reliability. The Romanian manufacturer is part of the Renault family and that quality comes through in its high scores for satisfaction and reliability.

“This is a massive piece of research, a real barometer of what the nation thinks of its cars, with more than 5,000 readers taking part.

“It is also a clear indicator of the rise and rise of electric and hybrid vehicles that the Hyundai Ioniq was crowned the most satisfying car for the second year in a row.”