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Frankfurt show: Renault Megane moves up

Big one: Renault’s new Megane will be one of the biggest small cars from Europe, with a big boot to boot.

Bigger, bolder Megane set to kick off new-model push by Renault Australia

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Renault logo15 Sep 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

RENAULT’S bigger new-generation Megane hatchback is set to fire the starting pistol on a hectic new-model blitz in Australia that will include the French company’s first one-tonne ute and the born-again Alpine sportscar.

Revealed at Frankfurt motor show today, the fourth-generation Megane will be released in Europe in early 2016 and arrive in Australia in the second half of next year.

To be built in Spain on the Renault Nissan Alliance’s flexible Common Family Module (CFM) architecture, the five-door Euro hatchback’s unveiling comes hard on the heels of the announcement that the Renault version of partner Nissan’s NP300 Navara, to be called Alaskan, is in the pipeline for Australia, along with Alpine’s hot-shot mid-engined sportscar that should land about 2017.

GoAuto also understands that an all-new, bigger Koleos SUV is on the agenda, meaning that within a couple of years, Renault Australia will be in its best position yet to cause some mainstream market mayhem, Euro exchange rate fluctuations permittingMissing from Renault’s Frankfurt show stand today were Megane’s flagship Renault Sport variants, with the focus here on the lesser models topped by Megane GT with its 152kW four-cylinder petrol engine and 4Control four-wheel steering system that is new to Megane.

This time around, Megane will have two five-door body styles – the hatch that is being shown in Frankfurt, plus a wagon to be unveiled next year. Both have been confirmed for Australia.

The three-door hatch has been dropped, with the sizzling Renault Sport variants moving to the five-door hatch layout next time around.

As always, Megane RS will be along later, at earliest late next year or more likely 2017.

In Frankfurt for the Megane unveiling, Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar told GoAuto that his company had high hopes for the new model which he believed had the wherewithal to take the brand to the next level in Australia.

The current Megane is Renault’s fourth-biggest seller in Australia, behind Clio, Koleos and Captur.

Mr Hocevar said that while he expected the SUV models to remain the brand’s top sellers, especially once a new Koleos arrives, he also expected the Megane to push higher in a segment that contains Australia’s highest sellers.

He said his company was planning a marketing splash for the new model.

“It will be nice to make big noise around Megane – an investment around that nameplate,” he said.

“Like Clio and Captur, we will have a substantial launch and let everyone know about this wonderful product.”

Mr Hocevar said there would be a “bit of a wait” for new-generation Megane RS variants, but the company would continue to offer the current RS range in parallel with the new Meganes to help cover the overlap.

The Megane RS provides a big slice of Megane volume, accounting for up to 25 per cent of the nameplate’s sales in Australia. Much of the rest of the volume is made up of GT and GT Line variants, which Mr Hocevar said underlines the attraction of Renault Sport in Australia.

Renault’s current Golf GTI competitor, the front-wheel-drive, 162kW Megane GT220 will not have a direct replacement, at least not at launch.

The new Megane GT has less power (152kW) from its TCe petrol four-cylinder engine, but gains a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for the first time, broadening its appeal.

The GT has been confirmed for Australia, but the rest of the range remains under wraps.

Mr Hocevar has hinted, however, that the success of the current 81kW 1.5-litre diesel engine should ensure that powerplant makes it into the new line-up.

Although a three-cylinder petrol engine lifted from Clio will be available in Megane in other markets, including Europe, GoAuto expects an all-four-cylinder, turbocharged powertrain list for Australia.

Mr Hocevar said a diesel hybrid version of the Megane planned for 2017 in Europe would be considered for Australia, but the business case had yet to be made.

He pointed out that the conventional diesel Megane was already extremely fuel efficient, and while the sub-3.0-litre per 100km fuel consumption rating for the hybrid was impressive, more Australian buyers would likely opt for the cheaper diesel.

At 4359mm long, the new Megane is 64mm longer than before and 10mm longer than logical rival, Volkswagen Golf.

The new platform has allowed the engineers to stretch the wheelbase by 28mm, which again is longer than that of most rivals.

The roof is 25mm lower, while the front and rear tracks are an impressive 47mm and 39mm wider respectively, meaning the new model not only has a bigger footprint on the road but a more squat, powerful presence.

Bigger external dimensions and longer wheelbase have translated into more passenger room, with an extra 20mm of rear knee-room, and a larger boot that now takes 434 litres – second biggest in this league.

The interior has received a massive work-over, with high-end features such as a full-colour head-up display and a 7.0-inch vertically mounted portrait-shaped touchscreen making their way down from high-end Renault models such as the Espace and Talisman.

Expensive-looking materials abound in the cabin that also includes a neat dash design that wraps around to the doors.

Automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control will be available, but it is unclear if these safety features will be on all variants in Australia.

So far this year, Renault has sold 971 Meganes in Australia, representing a fall of about 8.0 per cent over 2014.

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