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Renault looks to bring Kadjar to Australia

High priority: Launched in Europe in 2015, the sleek Kadjar now looks set to become the third member of Renault’s SUV stable in Australia – and could even spawn the first-ever Renault Sport SUV!

New Renault Oz chief pushes case for Kadjar SUV – including a Renault Sport version


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20 Mar 2018

RENAULT looks set to bolster its SUV range in Australia with the introduction of the Kadjar small/medium SUV that would slot in between the Captur crossover and the mid-size Koleos.

Renault Australia’s new managing director Andrew Moore has revealed the plan to GoAuto – and his push for the first-ever Renault Sport versions of its SUVs, starting with Kadjar – as he looks to capitalise on the booming SUV segment and return the company to a position of strong annual sales growth, following two years of negative returns.

He stopped short of confirming that the business case for Kadjar was locked down, but it looks to be a fait accompli as Mr Moore, who took the reins in October, made it clear that an expanded range of SUVs – particularly European-bred city-oriented models – were among his top priorities for the French brand after assessing the Australian operations.

This includes Kadjar, which was launched in Europe in 2015, and the next-generation Captur, which is due for release in a couple of years and is expected to be slightly larger than the current crossover.

“We’re looking into the next couple of years … and some of the new product I’m looking at I think there’s an SUV slant for Renault in terms of product available for Australia,” he said.

“But the vehicles have more of a stylish, aspirational city-type edge to them.”

Mr Moore has flown to Paris twice in the past few months to discuss the Australian strategy with top-level Renault executives, and is making his third trip this week, and said that pushing for high-performance RS-branded variants – starting with Kadjar – were high on his agenda.

This is particularly relevant given Australia is among the top markets for Renault Sport worldwide – third behind France and Germany in terms of outright sales volume for the previous-generation Megane RS, for example.

“Something we’re pushing for with the SUVs is Renault Sport versions,” Mr Moore said. “I think that’s just a natural progression of the Renault Sport brand and heritage.

“Probably more Kadjar at this point would be the first one – I’m requesting something around that – and we’ve said Koleos as well.

“I think for the SUV, it’s as much about the look and the power and not so much, you know, you’re not going to take it around a racetrack. People are migrating (from passenger cars) and they still want to have that ‘go’ and so forth.”

Vehicles such as a potential Renault version of alliance partner Nissan’s forthcoming Terra large SUV – based on the Navara utility – are currently not in the mix, with Mr Moore preferring to focus on sleeker and sportier models that appeal to city buyers moving from passenger cars into SUVs.

“We’re working on this brand positioning and so forth – and it’s probably six months away looking at the new product that we can source and so forth – but I think where it will sit is you will look at a Renault and go, ‘There’s a Renault SUV for me as a person that has migrated from a passenger car to SUV’ versus a person that is used to big, bulky SUVs,” he said.

“It will be a bit more sporty, comfortable, stylish, maybe sit higher but a little bit closer to the ground – I think it will be about lifestyle, but lifestyle from the city, versus a lifestyle built on the beach.”

Mr Moore contrasted Renault’s brand image with that of Jeep, which he said was more about being “out there” among sand dunes and the like, whereas the French brand was more for city dwellers who value aesthetics, around-town comfort, ride height, cabin roominess and the ability to access slightly difficult environments – be it at the local footy ground or further afield.

“That’s what I see will be the differentiator and that’s how we’ll position our brand – to be a good offering in that regard,” he said.

Mr Moore also said Renault was better placed to emphasise the lifestyle aspect of SUVs now that it has built up an improved ownership experience, stemming from what he sees as better quality, reliability, an attractive warranty (five years/unlimited kilometres) and longer services intervals (30,000km).

Mr Moore’s predecessor, Justin Hocevar, who was last week named as Jaguar Land Rover Australia’s new sales director, had resisted pressure from dealers (and other interested parties) to introduce the Kadjar, citing reasons such as the investment required to add a third SUV into Renault’s stable, the need to better establish Captur and Koleos in the market, the closeness in size between Kadjar and Koleos and the pricing and delivery advantages that come with the South Korean-sourced Koleos – hence the company’s focus on this model.

“In time, with more share and the expansion of our dealer network, does that create an opening for another small SUV? Possibly – it is certainly a case of never say never,” Mr Hocevar told GoAuto in July last year, just two months before he unexpectedly left the company.

“But I wouldn’t like to compromise our focus on making Koleos successful by introducing it (Kadjar) at this point in time.”

As reported, Renault Sport Cars managing director Patrice Ratti told GoAuto and other Australian media at the Frankfurt motor show last September that the performance division remains open to the idea of creating a hot Captur or Kadjar SUV, provided it can do so without compromising on performance and dynamics while keeping the price affordable.

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