Renault Group

There once was a car named Austral

6 December 2021

Renault has just revealed that “Austral” is the name of its next vehicle, providing an ideal opportunity to take a look at the brand’s model-naming strategy. Sylvia, Model-naming Strategy Manager within the Renault Global Marketing Department, gives us a behind-the-scenes look at her role as a “name researcher”.


Dauphine, Espace, Twingo and Clio are some of the Renault names embedded in our collective imagination. Will the brand’s future models also become household names? As Renault reveals the name of its next SUV, it offers some insight into the brand’s new model-naming strategy and shows that the wheels of change have been set in motion.

The name you give a vehicle shapes its personality.

Model-naming Strategy Manager, Renault Global Marketing


Renault’s model-naming convention has changed over the years. For many decades, Renault vehicle names started with the letter “R” (for Renault) followed by a number. However, over the course of the brand’s history, most models have sported actual names.
Actual names are much more impactful, as the meaning behind the name evokes an emotional response. Any brand that seeks to create connections with its customers must not forget this!
Furthermore, coming up with actual names creates an opportunity to play around with different lengths and sounds. “Short, playful sounding names like Clio and ZOE suit vehicles that are small, urban and agile, whereas long, imposing names like Talisman work well for large statement cars,” explains Sylvia.
Certain names have even transcended concepts and vehicles to go down in automotive history. For instance, Espace (which means “space” in French) is a highly appropriate name for such a spacious vehicle, while Twingo is a very punchy name with a dynamic feel to it.


The name you hear when a vehicle is launched is the result of many years of thought and research. A number of key Renault stakeholders focus their efforts on achieving the right balance between the new vehicle’s name, identity and target market, as well as the brand’s values and personality. Renault’s Marketing, Design, Product and Legal teams work in close collaboration and, in some instances, draw on the expertise of naming agencies.
Renault draws on its considerable expertise throughout the whole process. Any names we work on need to match the vehicles and the promises and benefits that accompany them. Much of our work centres around the emotional responses the names evoke and how they are perceived by the target audience.
The names on the back of vehicles are the result of many years of thought and research
Sylvia explains that there are three main ways of finding a name.
The first option is to bring back an iconic name to link the brand’s past with its future. For instance, Renault took the original Mégane name and gave it a modern twist for the Mégane E-TECH Electric, a new high-tech, compact hatchback that will hit the market in early 2022. 
The second option is to choose one of the many names from the growing list of names trademarked by Renault.
Renault has trademarked a great deal of names it is keen to protect. These names are something we are proud of and cherish, as they encapsulate our past and secure our legacy.
The third option is to draw on our creative energy to put forward new names.
Renault revives the iconic name Mégane for its new electric compact hatchback
An initial list with dozens of names is gradually whittled down based on a battery of legal, linguistic and cultural “litmus tests” performed in all countries where the vehicle will be sold.
Three names are shortlisted and submitted to the executive managers and the CEO, who has the final say on the name he feels best suits his vision for the vehicle.
And the name that came out on top for the brand’s highly ambitious latest-generation SUV was… Austral!


In 2005, Renault trademarked “Austral”, a name that fulfils a number of key nomenclature criteria.
Derived from the Latin word “australis”, Austral conjures up the vibrancy and heat of the south, the tranquil pleasure of nature, as well as wide open spaces, evoking limitless opportunities. The name resonates in many European languages, including French (which is important for a brand proud of its roots), Spanish, English and Italian. An international name is a perfect choice for a vehicle that will be sold across Europe and further afield.
The name carries great meaning, provokes an emotional response, and reflects the vehicle’s positioning as a C-segment SUV that is ready to take on any challenge. With two As and the consonants “STR” in the middle, the word is built around a harmonious balance of sounds that are “easy to pronounce” and “serene”, evoking the SUV’s power and control.
Lastly, the name ties in particularly nicely with the brand’s strategy and identity, as Renault seeks to maintain an image as a modern brand that radiates warmth, cares about people and prioritises their needs.

Austral, which injects fresh momentum and opens the door to the “Nouvelle Vague” era announced by Luca de Meo, encapsulates the alchemy of the images it conjures up, the sounds it is built around, the product itself and the brand. As Sylvia explains, “now that the new name has been unveiled, the magic can begin.”