With its compact SUV, the Austral, the brand with the diamond has inaugurated a new e-Tech platform that combines a turbocharged three-cylinder gasoline engine and two electric machines coupled to a small Lithium-Ion battery. We were able to ask the manufacturer about this new architecture that delivers 200 horsepower.
Perhaps you had the opportunity to read our test of the Renault Austral e-Tech Full Hybrid, which launched a new hybrid engine for the occasion that was far from boring. Its 200 horsepower allows the brand’s latest compact SUV to take the road at a good pace, which also benefits from a surprisingly efficient chassis for a vehicle in this segment. A driving pleasure that we owe to the work carried out on the CMF-CD modular platform, but also to the second-generation e-Tech Full Hybrid block that combines a new gasoline engine, two electric motors and a new Lithium-Ion battery.
e-Tech Full Hybrid: what changes in this second generation
You have probably already heard of these Renault e-Tech engines. Have you probably come across this mention stuck on the back of the Clio or Arkana in question already put on the road by the French manufacturer? However, these latter vehicles do not operate on the same base as the Austral. For this one, we are talking about the second generation e-Tech Full Hybrid architecture at Renault and that changes everything (or almost). Several components make up this powertrain. The first is a small-displacement combustion engine (1,200 cm3) that works with three cylinders and a variable geometry electric turbocharger that allows both to deliver torque at low revolutions and to guarantee dynamism at high revolutions and higher speeds.
Other novelties refer to this gasoline engine and some of them are inspired by the manufacturer’s diesel engines. “We used all of our engine knowledge and layered bricks from our diesel engines to give this engine an unrivaled 41% efficiency, just like a diesel”explains Sylvain Blanchon, project manager for mechatronic systems at Renault.
Thus, the three cylinders of this small block of 1.2 liters work according to a long stroke of the pistons, as in the diesel blocks, to which a second brick is added: an EGR valve. The latter works at low pressure and is intended to inject inert gases into the intake to lower the maximum combustion temperature and improve efficiency.
To finish with the mechanical part, the automatic gearbox with claws has also been reworked to absorb this power of 200 hp as well as the accumulated torque of 410 Nm.
What’s new in electric motors
The “hybrid” part of this second generation of the e-Tech Full Hybrid is made up of two electric machines. The former, which develops 50 kW (205 Nm of torque), plays the fairly conventional role of a traction motor. This is called “e-motor” while the second electrical group is a high voltage generator called “HSG” for High voltage starting generator.
Two electric motors make up this e-Tech Full Hybrid block
As its name suggests, this ensures the starting of the combustion engine and the gear changes of the dog automatic gearbox, but it also aims to recover the electricity produced by the combustion engine when it behaves as a generator to recharge the drums.
Battery that also evolves, since it goes from a capacity of 1.2 kWh (in Arkana, for example) at 240 V to a capacity of 2 kWh at 400 V. Renault informs of another important novelty since this battery is now cooled by the air conditioning the network. The lithium-ion cells sit on a plate that ensures proper conditioning of the battery pack.
The battery pack is cooled by the air conditioning network.
The advantages are obvious, because it is a question of delivering energy and electrical resources more frequently and for a longer time, and this, whatever the climatic conditions in particular. However, these data must be considered in the context of this type of cars electrified by hybridization, whose expectations and needs are lower than in a PHEV, for example.
100% electric starters and very low consumption
According to Renault, all this allows the Austral to make 100% of its starts in electric mode – which we were able to verify during our test – but also to make 80% of the WLTP cycle in the city in electric mode. The WLTP homologation mixed cycle allows Renault to announce a consumption of 4.6 liters per 100 km, which we did not have time to check during our tests. A longer test would probably have allowed us to do better than the 6l/100km recorded on a mixed route.
Anyway, this new set that combines all these technologies allows Renault to apply quite classic patterns, namely Eco, Normal and Sport driving modes.
Depending on the driver’s choice, but also on the profile of the road and the pace adopted, five powertrain configurations are possible, which are transparent to the driver:
- An electric mode using the 50 kW electric motor. This is managed electronically and is limited by the small capacity of the battery.
- An “e-drive” mode to recharge the battery. This uses the thermal engine as a generator that, through HSG, will re-inject energy to the battery. In this configuration, the wheels are driven solely by the 50 kW electric motor and up to the maximum speed of 130 km/h.
- A dynamic mode that, as its name suggests, combines power for sporty driving. It is what Renault calls “parallel hybrid mode” which also gives rise to fifteen possible configurations between the four transmission ratios coupled to the thermal block and the two electric motor ratios.
- An energy recovery mode during braking and deceleration whose intensity can be adjusted according to four levels (0, 1, 2 and 3) thanks to the paddles on the steering wheel present on Austral.
- Finally, fifth and last configuration: the heat engine mode only.
Test – Renault Austral E-Tech: will the diamond hybrid SUV finally take the lion’s share?
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