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Renault revs up for busy 2014

Additions: New vehicles such as the luxury Clio GT (left) and its Captur crossover derivation (below) will join the Renault range here in 2014.

More newcomers, updates and dealers keep a resurgent Renault working hard

Renault logo16 Dec 2013

RENAULT Australia will capitalise on its recent uplift in sales and market share with a host of new or refreshed vehicles in 2014, including a new luxury Clio variant, a second SUV and a 12-seater bus version of the Master van.

But the French brand is modest in its volume expectations, with a commitment to achieving sustainable growth hand in hand with better customer satisfaction, and backed up by broader as well as better dealer representation.

Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the Clio RS 200 EDC in Melbourne last week, Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar revealed that he would be happy to see the company’s volume grow by 10 per cent in 2014.

“With a first full year of Clio, Clio RS, commercial vehicle range growth, and a fair bit of action on the Megane range, and Captur of course… we should grow,” he said.

“And if we achieve 10 per cent next year, we will be very happy.”

Since the brand was relaunched (for a second time in nine years) in 2010, sales have already risen by 227 per cent, with year-to-date sales of 6247 units in 2013 already up by 40 per cent.

With the 7000-volume mark in sight, this will be the best-ever result in Australia for Renault.

“We have done this in a very sustainable fashion, building year on year with sustainable growth,” Mr Hocevar said.

“This is something I’ve been very conscious about bringing to the Renault brand in Australia… but we still have a long way to go.”

As well as building its customer base over the last three years, Renault’s dealer numbers have increased from 21 to 37, with an aim to have around 45 outlets throughout Australia by the end of 2014.

While it is too soon to gauge the customer response to the all-new X98 fourth-generation Clio light car, Renault is confident that in it will become the company’s best-seller next year, thanks to positive reactions to the keenly priced TCe 90 and TCe 120, as well as the highly anticipated launch of the RS 200 EDC.

These will be aided by the arrival of the luxury focussed Clio GT by Renault Sport midway through 2014.

Set to sit around the $25,000 mark, it will feature the same 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine drivetrain as the TCe 120 EDC dual-clutch variant, but with an RS-style body kit, some chassis upgrades and more standard interior features.

“With the migration of people into smaller vehicles, it seems that down-sizers are going for the upper-end versions,” Mr Hocevar said.

“And we know that people looking to do that aren’t necessarily looking for as much power as we offer in our Clio RS, so the GT will be an interesting proposition that will fill a gap, with RS styling, a sportier ride, a good level of equipment and still a very sprightly motor in the 1.2 turbo.

“If it gets the green light it would be about the middle of next year. We have to give the new RS a bit of breathing space first, to get it out there – especially as this is the first time we’ve been able to offer a Clio RS at (a sub-$30,000 opening) price point.”

Still on Clio, its sub-compact SUV offshoot, the J87 Captur, will complete the quintet of recent baby crossover vehicle releases when it surfaces in about July, taking aim at the Holden Trax, Peugeot 2008, Ford EcoSport and Suzuki S-Cross.

While Renault is keeping mum on prices, expect a $21,000 opener with the Clio TCe 90’s 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol powerplant.

Along with the TCe 120 EDC, it is believed that the Captur will offer the 1.5-litre four-cylinder DCi turbo-diesel also destined for the latest Clio, and currently serving the X95 Megane small car.

“I think the addition of a diesel would make the Captur a very attractive proposition in the market,” Mr Hocevar said.

Speaking of the Megane, a Phase II facelift with the latest Renault corporate snout as seen through the eyes of ex-Mazda designer Laurens van den Acker is poised to hit our market later in 2014 as well.

Finally, the recently facelifted Kangoo series of compact vans, an uptick in Trafic medium van sales, and a much expanded Master large van range should see Renault’s presence in the commercial vehicle space improve considerably through 2014.

Sales to the end of November are already nearly 85 per cent up on the same period in 2012, and will be boosted by freer supply all round, as well as the brand’s first foray into the minibus market.

“We’re looking to introduce a 12-seater bus variant of the Master,” Mr Hocevar said.

“It is a unique opportunity for us to offer a vehicle with that much capacity and good luggage space, because some of the other 12-seaters don’t have that and they have to end up towing a trailer.” “(LCV) deliveries to date this year have topped 2000 vehicles, our best yet. In November, the Trafic mid-size van was the most popular European in its segment, and Master and Kangoo were both second in their respective market segments.”

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