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Future models - Renault - Megane

Next Megane to lift Renault

Fresh assault: The current-gen Megane (left) will be replaced by an all-new model next year which will make its debut at the Frankfurt motor show later this year.

Renault Australia says brand building and dealer expansion will benefit new Megane

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Renault logo1 Jul 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

RENAULT Australia is expecting its next-generation Megane hatch range will lift from being an also-ran in the super-competitive small-car segment to a viable European alternative when it arrives in local showrooms next year.

Set to be revealed at the Frankfurt motor show in September, the fourth-generation Megane is expected to take on the French car-maker's latest corporate styling direction – penned under the direction of design chief Laurens van den Acker – that is seen on recent offerings such as the Clio, Captur and Espace.

Speaking with GoAuto last week, Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar said the relatively modest numbers for the Megane in Australia are a world away from the numbers Renault was achieving after it returned to Australia in 2001.

“The current volume of the Megane needs to be put into the context of where Renault Australia started with that product and what our capability as an organisation, and a network, and level of awareness we were able to generate when we launched the current-generation vehicle compared to now,” he said.

“We have obviously built our network from about 20 dealers to about 50, we have built the capability of our organisation and we have worked a lot on our brand presence. Not only awareness, but also saliency, that understanding of what does the brand really stand for and what are the products in the line-up.”

Mr Hocevar said the work the car-maker has put in to build brand awareness and the dealer network, as well as the expected visual appeal it will have with the new design direction, should all combine to have a positive impact on sales when the new Megane eventually arrives.

“Now when we do go to the next-gen vehicle, our capabilities are set to take it to a new level.

“Secondly, I think what we've seen, particularly under the design direction from van den Acker – you know the products, you’ve seen the design direction form concept cars – we are still a French brand, but we are leveraging more of our European design and from an industrial point of view, leveraging the strength of the (Renault) group globally.

“The products are becoming a greater reflection of those capabilities.

“I think that means we are much better positioned to take this vehicle, leverage the strengths of the group in the local market and take it to a new level.”

The third-gen Megane went on sale in Australia in late 2010 and has provided Renault with moderate volume, but it has not managed to rise significantly above other compact Euros including the Peugeot 308 and Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

A facelifted version arrived mid-last year with new variants, more powertrains and a fresh face, briefly improved the fortunes of the Spanish-built Renault, lifting it by 11.3 per cent last year to 1382 units.

In 2014 it outpaced the Peugoet 308 (967), but the popularity of the new-gen Pug has pushed it past the Megane so far this year. It is sitting on 559 units to the end of May – a 15.7 per cent dip over the same period last year – while the 308 is up by 162.1 per cent to 705.

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta which outstripped both its French rivals last year with 2268 sales has dropped off by nearly 50 per cent so far in 2015and is sitting behind them on 538.

Little is known about the fourth-gen model at this stage, but it is likely to be built on the Renault-Nissan Alliance's Common Model Family platform that underpins the Euro-spec Nissan Pulsar, as well as the Qashqai and X-Trail.

When he confirmed that the Megane would surface at this year's Frankfurt show in an interview with indianautosblog.com, Mr van den Acker said the new model would be “a very sexy, very sensual, very attractive sporty looking vehicle with all the new technologies, which will install itself nicely in the line-up”.

In Australia the Megane line-up starts at $20,990, plus on-road costs for the base 1.2-litre petrol Authentique hatch and tops out at $41,490 for the GT220 wagon before you hit Renault Sport models.

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