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Wagon to multiply Renault Megane range

Room to move: Renault Australia will expand its increasingly popular Megane line-up with a wagon derivative by mid 2013.

Sub-$30K Renault Megane wagon charged with wooing buyers in growing niche

Renault logo1 Oct 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

RENAULT has confirmed the release of the Megane wagon in Australia before the middle of next year, as part of a range extension over the next two years that might also include the arrival of the warmed-up, sub-RS GT variant.

To be priced somewhere “under $30,000” for both the petrol and turbo-diesel models on offer, the Megane Wagon will attempt to carve out a place in the small wagon segment, alongside the Volkswagen Golf, Opel Astra and forthcoming Holden Cruze.

According to Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar, the Megane wagon’s pricing will be on a par with the now-discontinued Hyundai i30 SW wagon when adjusted for specification, making the Renault a compelling value proposition.

The previous-generation Hyundai i30 wagon accounted for a substantial 20 per cent of that model’s sales until it was discontinued when the new model – built solely in Europe – was launched earlier this year.

Mr Hocevar also dismissed Toyota’s claims that the C-segment wagon market in Australia is not big enough for it to bother with the just-unveiled Auris/Corolla wagon.

35 center imageFrom top: Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar Renault Megane GT hatch and wagon.

In time, Mr Hocevar expects the Megane wagon to account for about 30 per cent of overall Megane sales, with only a slight amount of buyer cannibalisation between the bodystyles.

“It is an opportunity to further expand and grow a relatively solid but not crowed market,” he said.

“While I can’t yet announce exact pricing, we benchmarked it against a now-discontinued Korean-branded wagon, and spec-adjusted it comes out to be about the same.

“And I think Toyota’s volume aspirations with the Corolla are different to ours with the Megane wagon.

No other details are forthcoming for the time being, including whether the wagon that Australians will see will be the existing Phase 1 or yet-to-be-seen facelifted Phase II version due sometime in 2013, and sporting a similar nose treatment to the new Clio.

Whichever iteration arrives, it will be built in the same Spanish plant that manufactures the Megane RS 265 three-door hatch, rather than at the Turkish site that the Megane five-door hatch is sourced from for Australia.

This means there will be key drivetrain and specification differences, including a naturally aspirated version of the RS 265’s 2.0-litre petrol engine, according to one insider, mated exclusively to a six-speed manual transmission.

Automatic buyers will be catered for by the turbo-diesel version, which will drive the front wheels via Renault’s EDC dual-clutch transmission.

The Megane carry-all is in the mould of the classic ‘sports wagon’, boasting a sloping roofline, yet at 4560 mm long, and with a wheelbase of 2700 mm, it still manages a boot capacity of 524 litres.

As well as providing an alternative for previous-generation i30 SW buyers to consider, Renault expects the latest Megane to challenge wagon versions of the new Opel Astra, Peugeot 308, Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Octavia, and soon-to-be-released Holden Cruze.

While Ford has for now dismissed the notion of a Focus wagon for Australia, Honda may choose to import the newly announced Civic wagon out of Europe – though the production version of that car is still many months away.

Meanwhile, if it does arrive, the Megane GT will brandish a chassis tune developed by Renault Sport Technologies, although – as we reported back in April – it is designed to be the softer luxury alternative to the lauded hot hatch.

In Europe the GT is currently available in two 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo iterations – the TCe 180 petrol producing 132kW of power and 300Nm of torque, and the DCi diesel in 150bhp (110kW/360Nm) six-speed automatic and 160bhp (118kW/380Nm) six-speed manual formats.

Depending on whether the cars in question are the three-door coupe, five-door hatch, CC coupe convertible, or wagon versions, pricing estimates would put the Megane GT in the mid-$30,000 bracket.

Buoyed by growing interest in the Megane range, Renault is enjoying a minor renaissance in Australia, with sales up 35 per cent over last year’s efforts. September figures to be released this week show year-to-date volume has hit 3400 units – the best in modern times, and just 200 units short of the 2011 total.

Aiding the push is the company’s zero per cent finance offer on certain (non RS and commercial) vehicles, as well as a special $199 servicing deal that was promoted as a ‘never-to-be-repeated’ event.

To help maintain the growth momentum, Renault says it will extend the financing, and also introduce a new $299 servicing deal for the first three years of the car’s life.

Defending the servicing price hike, Mr Hocevar says it is still cheaper than the usual price of servicing the cars at a dealership.

“It ends up costing about the same as Toyota’s $149 program on Corolla since theirs requires two annual dealer visits to Renault’s one,” he explained.

Both promotions run out on December 16, 2012.

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