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Renault Talisman a non-starter for Australia

Unlucky symbol: The handsome Talisman is left-hand-drive only, leaving Renault Australia without a viable sedan player in the local market.

Latitude follows Fluence out the door as Renault Australia abandons sedan sectors


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7 Jul 2015

RENAULT has revealed its knockout new Talisman overnight, but local management has confirmed it will not make it to AustraliaThe launch of the new Talisman sedan also marks the end of Renault Australia’s involvement in the sedan sector.

Set to replace both the Latitude and Laguna in Renault’s portfolio overseas, a lack of left-hand-drive availability means the Talisman was never a starter for Australia.

In an interview with GoAuto today, Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar said the unavailability of the Talisman means that the slow-selling Latitude would exit the market once current stocks were depleted.

“We’ve known for a couple of years that the European version (of the Talisman) wasn’t going to be available in right-hand drive,” he said. “We’re entering a phase-out of the Latitude in the Australian market. We’ll be wrapped up on it by the end of the year.”

The Talisman marks a step forward for the Renault brand’s presence in the segment, moving away from the relatively pedestrian design of the Latitude into a more premium space.

The 4850mm-long front-wheel-drive sedan will launch in Europe in 2016, and will be joined later by a wagon.

Two versions of a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine will be offered, along with three diesels a single 80kW variant of a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbo, and two versions (95kW and 188kW respectively) of the 1.6-litre turbo four.

The most powerful variant will sport two turbos, and be offered with a dual-clutch transmission only. DCTs and manual transmissions are in service on other variants.

Renault will also debut four-wheel steering on the Talisman, along with the option of adaptive dampers.

Its interior will be dominated by a tablet-sized 8.7-inch touchscreen that sits proud of the dash, and which can be manipulated via ‘pinch’ gestures like a tablet.

Mr Hocevar acknowledged that the Latitude did not perform well locally, and suggested that the company’s resources were best deployed elsewhere.

“We’ve only done fairly modest volumes over the last couple of years,” he said.

“It’s not a version that we invested a lot of marketing behind. We had a few good fleet clients that took that vehicle, but moving forward we won’t be represented in that segment.”

Just 39 Latitude sales have been lodged so far for 2015, with only three sold in June. Renault sold 96 Latitudes in 2014, from a high of 321 in 2013.

The company announced in May that its small sedan offering, the Fluence, would be deleted from the local roster.

Mr Hocevar told GoAuto that the mid-size segment was contracting, and had been for the past five years.

“There’s some very large, well-established brands in this segment that are struggling to get volume of significance,” he said.

“When you consider the investment you need to make in the commercialisation of those vehicles in our market, and communicating the product to the market, it makes it a challenge for that number of players to have a real go.”

The Talisman will replace both the Laguna and the Latitude with immediate effect, with Renault also dropping the coupe body style of the Laguna.

The aggressively styled sedan will compete with Volkswagen’s new Passat and Peugot’s 508.

The loss of two product lines in three months does not mean that plans for vehicles currently not on the Australian radar, like the large Kadjar SUV, have changed, though Mr Hocevar did not rule out adding it to local showrooms in the future.

“There are no immediate changes to our plans (for Kadjar), but we’ll keep our eye firmly upon the development of the SUV line-up within the group,” he said.

“It’s a case of never say never. If the opportunity arises and the business case aligns, then our position could change.”

While no other launches are planned ahead of a 220 Cup version of the company’s RenaultSport Clio in 2016, Mr Hocevar said that the company “might slip another one in” in 2015, but would not elaborate further.

“Renault is consistently strengthening its SUV portfolio on a global scale,” he said. “We have to be mindful of how any of those products might fit into our (local) mid-term plan, relative to other models we’re very committed to, and how those vehicles might suit a business case for Australia.”

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