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Renault Sport expands retail presence

Meaner Megane: More Renault models will follow the Megane GT220 with GT styling and chassis tweaks.

Three-tiered Renault Sport retail roll-out to boost international profile

Renault logo13 May 2013

RENAULT SPORT is to take on a broader role at retail level with a three-pronged sub-brand roll-out designed to greatly increase the international profile – and profits – of Renault’s performance and motorsport arm.

To begin with, the performance trim levels available on a range of Renault passenger cars will be – in ascending order – GT Line, GT and the long-established RS.

GT Line is a cosmetic and equipment upgrade that includes wheels, tyres, seats and decals, while GT brings some RS chassis and performance enhancements.

But GT falls short of the full-fat RS modifications that Australians have adopted more enthusiastically than every other market outside of France in models such as the Megane RS 265 Cup.

The Megane GT 220 Estate will be the first of the non-RS Renault Sport family of cars to be made available in Australia later this month, while the Clio GT unveiled at the recent Geneva motor show in March is on the cards for a late 2013 release here.

Speaking with Australian media at the Megane GT 220 Estate launch, Renault Sport international affairs manager Jean A Calcat said the time has come to push the performance brand to a global level.

“The idea is that we start with the RS to create the image and then tune down,” he said.

The upcoming rear-engine, rear-drive Twingo is also expected to receive Renault Sport treatment as the French firm attempts to increase driver and performance appeal across as many appropriate models as possible.

However this means that SUVs and MPVs – like the Captur, Koleos Scenic and Espace – are likely to miss out, as Renault Sport is very mindful not to sully the brand’s standing among performance and motorsport enthusiasts.

“The Scenic is a good example. We are not planning to develop an RS version of this model because it is an MPV frankly,” Mr Calcat said.

“Even though Opel had developed an OPC version of the Zafira, at the time I don’t recall it was a very good seller.” On a more practical level, limited financial, manpower and time resources will also keep the non-passenger car Renaults from undergoing the Renault Sport upgrades.

“Here our role is to see if we can develop an RS version for all of Renault’s cars. But the size of our organisation and the lack of budget means we are not developing RS on every single Renault car.

“So (beyond Clio and Megane) as far as I know I don’t know if a decision has been made on which future model will be developed at RS.” Mr Calcat added that Renault Sport could easily extend its expertise on more global passenger car models made outside of Europe, but only if they are true Renaults and not Nissans wearing the big diamond logo, such as the K13 Micra-based Pulse built and sold in India.

“There is no reason why we wouldn’t look at products developed outside of Europe as long as they are Renault products. For us it makes no difference.

“Today we have Renault Sport products sourced outside of Europe. The Fluence, for example, is offered with a GT by Renault Sport version, assembled in Argentina, and sold in South America. So we are really very open (to possibilities).

“Renault Sport Technologies is in charge of reworking all Renault cars. Whether they are sourced inside or outside of Europe.”

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