The Austral, a new model, and a new name to compete in a C-SUV segment where Renault believes it can do better, will be officially presented next spring.
The C-SUV segment has become key for brands in the European market during the last decade, as millions of users have migrated from saloons, family minivans, and traditional ‘short’ compact to these compact SUV bodywork, now so fashionable. And to cite them is to speak normally of commercial successes: Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage, Ford Kuga, Volkswagen Tiguan, Peugeot 3008 … Hence, when Renault presented its Kadjar in 2015, manufactured in the Palencia plant of Villamuriel de Cerrato and Technically based on the second generation Qashqai (when it was still the king of SUVs in many countries), that smelled like a ‘bestseller’ to many, although the SUV of the diamond has always remained below expectations, far from those podium positions where the Nissan Qashqai continued to be; even after Renault updated its model in 2018.
Thus, the French brand had long been developing a successor whose arrival is now confirmed for next spring, a completely new SUV that will share many things with the third generation of the Nissan Qashqai, starting with its new CMF-C platform. But it will no longer be called Kadjar because at Renault they seem to pose for a ‘clean slate’ that even ends with the name, which leaves its ephemeral life in a generation. Even more striking in a constructor that is usually faithful to the names that do work, such as Clio, Mégane, Espace, Twingo … And we could even see a new Scénic again soon. But Kadjar will say goodbye and we will welcome Austral, a new name for a different model that will also be manufactured in Palencia, as part of the awards linked to the Industrial Plan 2021-2024 announced by Renault Group last March.
What do we know about that Renault Austral, in addition to its name? Well not much. But something yes, like that it will debut as a five-seater SUV and 4.51 meters long (two centimeters more than the Kadjar) or that it will not offer a 100% electric variant, because later the brand with the diamond will have an electric SUV, with its name and developed separately from the same platform released by the Mégane E-Tech Electric. And we also know that the Austral, more than a model, will be a family, because later, possibly at the end of 2022, a body with seven seats will arrive (in the style of Nissan’s Qashqai + 2, later reconverted into the current XTrail), as well as an Austral Coupé perhaps already in 2023, whose irruption could call into question the presence of the Arkana, with a similar philosophy and currently selling at a good rate, even above Kadjar in many countries. In addition, the Austral will have E-Tech versions, and that opens the door to both self-recharging hybrid mechanics and plug-in hybrids.
Profession: name finder
Sylvia Dos Santos is responsible for the Designation Strategy of the Global Marketing Directorate of the Renault brand, and she, who defines herself as a “name seeker”, is the one who explains why ‘Austral’ has been chosen, a word from the Latin ‘australis’ and quite widespread in the different European languages. For Dos Santos, “Austral evokes the colors and warmth of the southern hemisphere, it is a name that invites you to travel and perfectly suitable for an SUV; its phonetics are harmonious, balanced and easy to pronounce for everyone, a key point in its international deployment “. We do not know if the anecdote that occurred a few weeks ago, when the head of Design of the Renault Group, has reached herDutchman Laurens van den Acker unofficially revealed to a group of journalists, under a confidentiality agreement, the final name of the Renault Austral … which he correctly completed on the third attempt. The ‘easy pronunciation’ thing started with some difficulties and some laughs.
For Renault’s ‘name seeker’, “giving a vehicle a name is giving it a soul.” She knows better than anyone the history of the brand and the strategy used in each era to name its products. Although the R (for Renault) followed by a number was used for some decades to name vehicles, the naming system has usually been nominal. For Dos Santos, in fact, “giving a name to a vehicle is much more impressive and allows a model to be given meaning and emotion, something essential for a brand that wants to create ties with its customers.”
This type of denomination also allows you to play with the loudness and the length of the names. According to the person in charge of the brand names, “the short names with a cheerful sound that we already know, such as Clio or Zoe, are used to baptize small, urban and agile vehicles, while longer names, with a slower sound, such as Talisman, evoke the distinguished and more imposing side of the vehicle “.
But finding the right name is a long-term job. To find the symbiosis between the name, the identity of the new vehicle, and the customers it is addressed to, in addition to the values and personality of the brand, various actors intervene, such as the marketing, design, and product departments, and of course the legal; that sometimes also count on the assistance of specialized agencies in the creation of names.
For Sylvia Dos Santos, there are mainly three possible ways to find a name. The first option consists of retaking a historical, iconic name that has marked the history of the brand, which is what has happened with ‘Mégane’, which has been reinvented and modernized to become Mégane E-Tech Electric. the second alternative is to select names available from the large base of names already registered by Renault, and which is constantly being enriched: “we have a very rich name base, owned by Renault; we are proud, we are attached to it and we protect it; it is our source, they are our stories and our heritage of names. ”Finally, the third option is to create,” let the creativity flow by proposing new names, “according to Dos Santos.
The long list with several dozen names is gradually being reduced by what Renault calls legal, linguistic, and cultural ‘crash tests, which are carried out in all the countries where the future vehicle is marketed. Finally, a shortlist with only three names is obtained, which is already the one that is submitted to the judgment of the management bodies and the CEO, in this case, Luca de Meo, who arbitrates in favor of the one that best suits his vision of the vehicle. . And in the latter case, the winner has been ‘Austral’, a name that was part of Renault’s name base since 2005, and that it met many of the demands. Among them, logically, that of ‘working’ in French, but also in Spanish, English, Italian … With the Dutch we have more doubts after the anecdote mentioned.