So maybe there is a touch of the Alpine magic in there after all, despite the Austral being demonstrably not a handling legend – more a fine choice in a class of fairly ordinary-handling cars.
Mind you, we haven’t driven any other Austral variant yet and it’s worth emphasising that a base model may well be a different beast from the car we’ve driven here. It will, after all, have different suspension, steering, powertrain and interior finish.
Speaking of the interior, the Austral’s Tesla-style touchscreen with in-built Google software is a real gem. The graphics are sharp, the menu layout is logical, and it has all the features you want, including Google maps, on a vast screen, not to mention Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The cabin temperature controls are simple, physical toggle switches beneath the screen and the perceived material finish is good enough to trouble the likes of Volkswagen and Kia.
In the back, there’s ample room for two tall adults to sit comfortably, although the full-hybrid model misses out on the sliding rear seats that the mild-hybrid Australs get. The spring-loaded 60/40-split rear seats leave a small step up in the extended load bay when toppled forward, too, and there’s little to no usable underfloor storage, meaning that the Austral HEV manages a middling 430 litres of boot space.