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Renault Australia hopeful for RS SUVs

Captur-vating: The Captur small SUV could be the next model in line for performance upgrades from Renault Sport.

Local Renault arm petitioning head office for high-riding Renault Sport models

18 Nov 2019

RENAULT Australia is keen to see the expansion of its performance-enhanced Renault Sport range beyond its current line-up of hatchbacks into the increasingly popular performance SUV space.


Speaking to GoAuto at the local launch of the new Kadjar small SUV last week, Renault Australia senior product manager Charly Clercin said the French manufacturer’s local arm has been petitioning head office for an expansion of the RS range.


“That’s something Australia has been very clear with head office – the market is towards SUV and Renault Sport is quite successful in Australia, so it would make sense to bring both together,” he said.


“So that’s something we’ve discussed with head office, and that’s something we’re working on at the moment.


“There’s been no official plans with the company to have Sport SUV, that’s something as Renault Australia we’ve been pushing for.”


The only RS-fettled models currently in Renault Australia’s range are the Clio RS light hatch, due for a model changeover early next year, and the Megane small hatch, which is set to be topped by the Trophy R version before year’s end.


Mr Clercin said Renault’s head office was receptive to the idea of an RS SUV, however for such a vehicle to become a reality, the new variant will have to be seen as commercially viable in a number of global markets.


“They are always receptive, but they themselves are put in some constraints,” he said. “Obviously they’re not going to do that if it’s just Australia, it’s a matter of looking where else they could see opportunity and making sure it makes sense for the company to go that way.


“So we are making our voice very loud, but we need to get other countries on board to get that to happen.”


Renault has three SUV models to choose from as a donor vehicle for an RS variant, consisting of the Captur small SUV – due to arrive in all-new form in the second half of next year – the just-launched and slightly larger Kadjar, and the family-oriented Koleos mid-sizer.


Mr Clercin said the Koleos would be the least suited to RS treatment, due to its larger size resulting in a less nimble handling feel.


“Looking at what Renault Sport is known for, it’s all about handling and chassis and the way the car drives and feels rather than pure engine performance,” he said.


“Looking into that, you’re thinking it is something that’s more suited to the smaller SUVs so Captur or Kadjar.


“I’m not sure that Koleos is a vehicle that would be able to deliver on that promise of driving dynamics, so the focus would be on Captur or Kadjar most likely.”


Given that the Kadjar rides on the CMF-C platform that debuted in 2013 and is used on the Nissan Qashqai, and the smaller upcoming Captur scores the newer CMF-B underpinnings, the latter seems best suited to the RS treatment.


A Captur RS would employ a front-drive layout and likely borrow its powertrain from either the Clio or Megane RS.


The former uses a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine producing 147kW/260Nm, while the latter increases displacement to 1.8 litres and boosts output to 205kW/390Nm for the Sport and Cup, up to 221kW/400Nm in the top-spec Trophy.


A number of other enhancements would also be made to an RS-fettled SUV, including the chassis, suspension, differentials and steering.

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