Video: Great Escapes in the new Renault Austral | Top Gear
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Video: Great Escapes in the new Renault Austral

Three amazing adventures, over 1,000 miles, and one all-new Renault Austral E-Tech full hybrid…

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From the middle of London to the middle of nowhere, the all-new Renault Austral E-Tech full hybrid is up for adventure. Packed with life-improving tech, including built-in Google, it’s the ultimate assistant – making daily drives effortless and easy. But when it’s time to get away from it all, and with a driving range of up to 683 miles, it can do long-haul luxury too – whisking you into the wilderness in first-class comfort (massaging seats to the max).

To prove it, the Renault was sent on a cross-country road trip from the heart of the capital to the heart of the Highlands, exploring the Austral E-Tech – and Britain – in a series of Great Escapes (as you can watch above). Along the way, we’ll meet the tech-loving founders of a digital-detox start-up, an astronomical authority on the stars and the cosmos, and an ultra-runner who recently conquered all of Scotland’s biggest mountains in record-breaking time.



Starting in the heart of London, we’ll see the Austral E-Tech’s urban creds – from its tight turning circle, hybrid efficiency and low emissions – before using its on-board tech (including Google maps and Google assistant) to take us out of town. At the wheel: Hector Hughes, a digital start-up guru and a big believer in the power of tech – especially when it comes to cars. But he also knows it’s important to switch off sometimes. Which is why he founded Unplugged, whose off-grid cabins are tucked away in quiet corners of the countryside, and where digital detox is encouraged.

Although half the fun is getting there, and playing with the Austral’s apps, gadgets and techy tricks – including built-in Spotify (playlists booming through the Harman Kardon sound system), Multi-Sense Advanced driving modes (including Eco for up to 60mpg and Sport for when the road opens up), and the long list of driver assistance systems for a helping hand when you need one.



Next, our journey north continues, to one of the most remote parts of mainland Britain. In the sparsely populated borders of England and Scotland, far from any light pollution, Kielder Forest is an official international Dark Sky Park, one of just 200-or-so in the world, and one of the best places in the UK to view the Milky Way and the cosmos. It’s a stargazer’s paradise.

Arriving at nightfall, the Austral’s matrix LED vision headlights – the other stars of the show – lead the way as we rendezvous with Rosie Braunholtz, an expert astronomer at Kielder Observatory in the heart of the forest, featuring state-of-the-art telescopes, equipment and exhibits, including rare space rocks. And in the dead of night, the Austral creates its own light show, with its 48-colour interior ambient LEDs, customisable dashboard display 12-inch OpenR screen, and a panoramic sunroof for in-car views of the night sky.



Back in the light of day, we head for our final destination and the ultimate escape – the Highlands of Scotland, where we meet our guide to this wild landscape… plus a few of her friends. In June 2023, ultra-runner Jamie Aarons set a new official record for conquering all of Scotland’s 282 Munros (mountains higher than 3,000 feet) in just 31 days 10 hours and 27 minutes – breaking the previous record by more than 12 hours.

With American-born Jamie in charge of the Austral – and with her mountain bike and 20-foot-long kayak on the roof rack – we’ll recreate some of her record-breaking endeavours, as we retrace part of her route around the Highlands, from remote glens to high moorland, to trails, rivers and lochs, as well as exploring some of the UK’s greatest driving roads.

In her month-long quest, Jamie covered 1,600 miles and made a total ascent of 135,366 metres – the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest 16 times. And she did it all under her own steam, running, cycling and kayaking the whole way. Her Austral adventure is a little easier, helped by a maximum boot space of 1,525 litres with the seats down (creating a van-like space for essential equipment), four-wheel-steering tech for tackling mountain hairpins, and a 200hp hybrid powertrain to make light work of steep climbs.

Watch the adventures unfold in Renault Austral: Great Escapes, filmed all the way across the roads and trails of the UK. And check out the galleries too…

To find out more about the all-new Renault Austral E-Tech full hybrid, visit

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