Renault returns to the Portuguese podium and is Car of the Year with the Austral | Engines

Twenty years after winning the Crystal Volante, with the Megane, Renault once again claimed the podium for the Car of the Year, an award that, organized by Expresso and SIC/SIC Notícias, is awarded by 20 journalists from the sector. Among the seven finalists were also Honda Civic, Nissan Ariya, Peugeot 408, Mégane E-Tech, Škoda Fabia and Volkswagen ID. buzz.

In addition to the Direct Insurance Car of the Year / Volante de Cristal 2023 Trophy, the Renault Austral received the title of Hybrid of the Year.

The announcement of the award was made this Wednesday night, during the annual party that brings together various agents from the automotive industry, and included more winners. In the remaining classes, the Škoda Fabia was crowned City Car of the Year, the Renault Megane E-Tech won the Electric title, the Peugeot 408 won the Plug-in Hybrid class, the Honda Civic scored points as the best Family proposal, the Nissan X-Trail walked away with the Large SUV award and the DS7 with the Compact SUV award.

The Technology and Innovation Award was handed over to Nissan, for e-Power, which rethinks the hybrid system so that the car behaves like an electric car without the constraints of autonomy. The technology improves performance, despite still having to reach an optimal level in terms of consumption and emissions, when compared to traditional hybrids.

The former chairman of the Car of the Year executive committee, journalist Rui Freire, who died in January, “for his enormous commitment to organizing [do concurso]over several years”, and “for the contribution he made to journalism in the automotive sector”.

Austral, the SUV that Renault was missing

The Austral has arrived to replace the Kadjar in Renault’s portfolio lineup. And, after meeting him, most ask: why didn’t this happen sooner?

Introducing yourself as a crossover spacious family, with an attractive design, full of technology, the Austral proves to be capable of contained consumption, especially in the case of the efficient mechanics full hybrid: 4.6 l/100 km, corresponding to 104 g/km of CO2.

Renault Austral

The engine noise is not bothersome and the multimode automatic gearbox is balanced in a car that excels in smoothness. And, when it is necessary to carry out manoeuvres, the presence of the four steering wheels (optional possible thanks to the fact that the car is based on the CMF-CD platform, which admits multi-link suspension at the rear) makes the car shrink.

In addition to the e-Tech full hybrid 200 variant (from €36,707), the Austral can accommodate mild hybridization gasoline engines: the 1.3 turbo with a 12V battery, in declinations of 140, with a six-speed manual gearbox, and 160hp , coupled to a CVT transmission, and another to combine the supercharged 1.2 liter tricylindrical block with a 48V battery, to contain consumption and emissions. With the designation e-Tech full hybrid there is still a declination of 160hp.

In the hybrid class, Austral competed with Honda HR-V 1.5 i-MMD Elegance, Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDI HEV Tech, Kia Niro 1.6 HEV, Nissan Juke Hybrid 145 N-Design and Toyota Corolla Cross 2.0 HEV Luxury.

Fabia, dynamic and jovial

A compact utility vehicle designed to attract new customers, which justifies a jovial positioning, but with space and functionality trumps to be an option for families.

Inside, light shines, especially on versions equipped with a panoramic roof (developed to provide thermal insulation), and technology, both in terms of driving assistants, which improve aspects such as safety (Euro NCAP awarded it five stars and the best score among its segment, a fact that was also due to the reinforced bodywork or the possibility of having up to nine airbags — six standard and three (rear and knee side) optional), or infotainment, which has an independent system screen of up to 9.2 inches.

skoda fabia

The competition version, 1.0 TSI Style DSG (from €23,590), combines agility with interesting consumption, in the order of five liters, which are not too penalized in stop-and-go.

The Fabia competed with the Nissan Juke Hybrid 145hp N-Design.

Megane, family tram

Among the class of trams, there were eye-popping proposals. But also to empty your wallet. And, in an area of ​​mobility that relies on rationality, price matters. The Mégane e-Tech in the competition, with a 60 kWh battery and 220 hp, is on sale from €36,750; the cheapest proposal below costs almost 12,500 euros more (and among the lot there were even cars whose difference in value would be enough to buy another car).

But it would be an injustice to write that Megane only wins by being cheaper. The point is that its quality-price ratio seems to have gained points. It’s just that, not being the fastest or the most functional, the car keeps the trump card of wisdom that leads us to go even further than the promised range. The brand announces an average consumption of 16.2 kWh/100 km, for a range of 434 km, making it easy to see lower consumption.

Renault Megane e-Tech

With compact dimensions, the lines are those of a compact sedan, but the volumes resemble a crossover. Habitability is not a reference, especially in the rear seats, but it is in line with most cars in its segment, as well as the trunk volume (389 liters).

The cabin environment is technological and innovative (the brand registered 300 patents during the construction of this car, such as the soundproofing system, which Renault describes as creating a “cocoon effect”).

Behind were Aiways U5 Prime, Kia Niro EV 64 kWh Tech, Nissan Ariya 63 kWh 214 4×2 Advance, Polestar 2 Long Range Dual Motor Pack Performance, Toyota bZ4X Lounge, VW ID.5 Pro and VW ID.Buzz Pro.

Civic, sporty family

A car capable of satisfying the needs of a family and, at the same time, giving moments of driving pleasure to those who sit at its controls.

As far as mechanics are concerned, in the 11th generation, Honda has put the purely thermal ones behind its back (the exception resists, for the time being, with the Type R, but this is another conversation), putting all its chips in a hybrid proposal , which has a 2.0-litre petrol engine generating thrust, but also energy for a small battery that powers two electric motors.

It doesn’t allow you to drive for a long time in purely electric mode, but the system knows how to manage energy wisely in order to reduce consumption and switching between the different modes is so intuitive that you often don’t even notice it.

Honda Civic

In the city, the Civic is not a demanding car, rolling smoothly, but imposing itself whenever necessary, drawing extra strength and power from the thermal engine, while being easy to manoeuvre: the steering is light in the right measure. Inside, there was a good evolution.

The Civic competed with Citroën C5 X Hybrid Plug-in 225CV Shine Pack, Nissan Qashqai e-Power 190 N-Connecta, Peugeot 408 GT Plug-in Hybrid 225, Megane E-Tech 60 kWh 220, Renault Austral TCe 200 Full-Hybrid and VW ID. BuzzPro.

Peugeot 408, dynamic and spared

An excellent design exercise, which placed the car among the most beautiful and elegant, repositioning a generalist car as an object of desire. The Peugeot 408 did not innovate in mechanics, already known from other models, although in dynamic terms it reveals a unique behavior.

With a length of 4.69 meters and a wheelbase of 2.79 meters, at the limit of what defines the C segment, the 408 has a spacious passenger compartment, both for those sitting in the front and in the back. As for cargo capacity, cars with a combustion engine store 536 liters; PHEVs are limited to 471, as the battery, with a capacity of 12.4 kWh, is mounted at the rear.

Peugeot 408

In Europe, a gasoline engine will be sold (the 1.2 PureTech three-cylinder with 130hp, with an EAT8 automatic transmission) and two plug-in hybrids, with 180hp and 225hp. It was the last one (price from €48,200) that was submitted to the jury’s evaluation and that combines a 180hp petrol engine with an 81kW electric motor, which is managed by the e-EAT8 automatic gearbox.

The remaining candidates among the PHEV were Citroën C5 X Hybrid Plug-in 225 Shine Pack, DS 7 E-Tense 4×4 360 Opera, Mazda CX-60 2.5 e-Skyactiv PHEV AWD Takumi, Opel Astra 5P GS Line 1.6T PHEV 180.

DS 7, condensed luxury

Spacious, with hand-stitched leather seats and automatic massage system. When you press the start button, BRM’s luxury analogue watch comes out of the dashboard and the exquisite Focal’s 14-speaker sound system makes you forget you’re driving in silent mode.

In the competition, DS chose the star of the company: a PHEV, with all-wheel drive, with 360hp of combined power, which stands out for being attractive, safe and fun to drive. Price: from €74,765.


The E-Tense 4×4 360 is the top of the range for the DS 7 and everything about it exudes convenience and luxury. The level of comfort contributes to well-being and the elevated driving position exudes confidence. And the 360hp of power guarantee a (very) fast driving, with dazzling accelerations.

Care for details is everywhere and the technological package is very complete.

In the class, it competed with Citroën C5 X Hybrid Plug-in 225 Shine Pack, Mazda CX-60 2.5 e-Skyactiv PHEV AWD Takumi, Opel Astra 5P GS Line 1.6T PHEV 180 and Peugeot 408 GT Plug-in Hybrid 225.

X-Trail, off-road comfort

More comfortable than ever, the X-Trail offers a good experience for all occupants. To this end, Nissan has refined the original formula, catering to an increasingly cosmopolitan clientele.

With electrified mechanics and a well-stocked package of equipment, even at the most basic level, the N-Connecta (there is also the Tekna and Tekna+), can be configured with the e-Power system, with two driving wheels or be combined with the e-4orce (the 4 reads like an “f”), served by two electric motors, one of which is mounted on the rear axle to provide four-wheel drive. The latter was analyzed (from €52,050).


The e-4orce is available in the electrified version of the X-Trail, with 213hp, which has the e-Power propulsion group, in which the electric motor (or, in this case, motors) controls the wheels, being fed with the energy produced for a petrol block (the 1.5-litre three-cylinder).

Inside the cabin there is no reason to complain. The interior, in the N-Connecta equipment level, offers refinement and noble materials well married with plastics wisely chosen and worked to give a perception of superior quality.

Also entered were Aiways U5 Prime and Kia Sportage 1.6 T-GDI HEV Tech.

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