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Renault Sport looks to SUVs

Practically sporty: RS or GT versions of the Renault Kadjar (below) or forthcoming Arkana (left) SUV could be on the cards in the future.

Shift to Renault Sport SUVs inevitable but technical issues must be overcome

Renault logo18 Sep 2018

A KEY executive from Renault’s performance arm, Renault Sport, has admitted that the company is planning go-faster versions of the company’s upcoming SUVs, but much work needs to be done to ensure they deliver on live up to the brand’s passenger car offerings.
 
Renault Sport general manager of overseas sales Jean Calcat said that while nothing has been signed off yet, it was inevitable SUV lines would be added to its current 10-model line-up in order to survive, let alone grow, in the next decade.
 
“When you look at the development of cars around the world, SUVs are a big thing, electric is a big thing, so it would probably make sense in the future for Renault Sport to look at SUVs and EVs,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the Megane RS in Queensland last week.
 
“I would say, short term, the Catch 22 situation we are facing, is the strong point of RS’s handling and road-holding. Which is slightly paradoxical with what an SUV is all about. 
 
“So, say we’re Porsche: we’re German, we need big engines for the autobahns, and German drivers will go flat-out on the autobahns whenever they like to. So, for Porsche to do a Cayenne or Macan with a big engine, it makes a lot of sense … but I would say that for us French manufacturers, it is a little bit more difficult to find the right solution.
 
“So, right now, we are looking into it, but we haven’t as yet (got) a firm commitment in that direction. But we are not stupid you know; we are looking at what Alfa Romeo is doing, Volkswagen, SEAT… but as I speak, there is no official product in the pipeline.”
 
Mr Calcat said that taking the half-step to a GT performance and suspension upgrade rather than going full-bore RS might be the right move for SUVs, given the weight and centre-of-gravity hurdles that must be cleared for a Renault Sport SUV to be taken seriously in key markets such as France, Germany and Australia.
 
“I would probably say GT rather than RS,” he revealed. “And, yes, we are aware where the market is going (with SUVs), and Renault Sport is there to support Renault in terms of image and not in terms of volume – 50,000 on one side and four million (units annually) on the other side – and so the more that Renault is going to go SUV.
 
“I understand that the Koleos is already the best-selling Renault in Australia, while the Kadjar is the most popular Renault in China – in fact, over there, Renault only sells SUVs … so, if we don’t want to disappear at Renault Sport, at some stage in the future we will have to venture into SUVs.”
 
Renault Australia managing director, Andrew Moore, added that the call has already been put out for higher-performance versions of SUVs moving forward, regardless of whether they wear the GT rather than the RS badge.
 
“Speaking to Jean Calcat, I’d love to see Arkana in a GT or RS version, we flagged that with the factory already,” he said. 
 
“Now I’m not saying like a Megane RS that’s suited to a racetrack, but a high-performance engine with all the styling (and specification upgrades) etcetera.”

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