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Why Renault Megane RS switched to five doors only
Styling and practicality issues meant Renault Megane RS was ready for five doors
26 Sep 2018
RENAULT has revealed that the move to a five-door Megane RS was inevitable, given the shrinking demand for the three-door body style and the everyday practicality that only a five door could deliver.
According to Renault Sport general manager of overseas sales Jean Calcat, the company’s desire to increase the Megane RS’ international sales potential against the Volkswagen Golf GTI ultimately sealed the deal for.
He also added that limited resources, small investment yields and potential sales cannibalisation would probably preclude the development of a Megane RS wagon for this generation.
“The Megane III RS was a great success, no question,” Mr Calcat told GoAuto at the launch of the Megane RS in Queensland earlier this month. “We sold around the world just over 30,000 units, which was probably above our initial expectations.
“But we had small criticisms about the (old) car… while it’s true the customer base was usually single people, when they got married and had kids, they didn’t find it that easy to manage (a three-door body style) on a daily basis, outside of a track.”
Mr Calcat admitted that while Renault was so nervous about dropping the three-door body from the smaller Clio RS when it launched the current generation in 2012 that it employed styling tricks to disguise the back doors using hidden handles.
No such deception was necessary for the latest Megane given that buyers of the larger hot hatch look for presence and proportion.
“When we moved from Clio III RS to Clio IV RS several years ago, and we moved from three-door to five-door, we were scared that some of our customers would criticise us and would actually run away from us,” he said.
“And we did prepare to have to justify (the change) … but believe it or not, we never had to do so, because customers accepted the five-door shape – bearing in mind that the design of Clio IV was quite clever with its hidden back door handles.
“Which we decided not to do this for Megane five-door because the designers wanted to give the car a more robust look, a more Volkswagen or German-car kind of look. They said ‘we’re not hiding the rear doors. We don’t care! We’re showing the rear doors.’”
Mr Calcat added that Renault Sport invested in unique bodywork to ensure greater differentiation between the RS models and the lower-grade Megane variants so it could effectively take the fight to rivals such as the Golf GTI, Ford Focus ST and Peugeot 308 GTi, which are either predominantly or sole five-door offerings.
“We decided with this Megane IV RS, as on Clio III, to make the shape wider,” he said. “On the old Megane RS three door we had some wheelarch extensions – which were OK looking from a distance, but frankly closer up, from a quality standpoint, we’re not very proud of it.
“We thought we could have done better. So, for the new car, we thought: ‘OK we’re going to get it right, so make the car wider, spending money on new fenders front and back, and not leaving the same shape of the car like we did on the old car which was criticised.
“Also, the company being more and more international… we have to make some decisions, and one of them is for cars like the Megane RS to only be developed as one base shape.”
As a result of this, as well as the growing pressure to develop other variants such as GT and RS versions of SUVs moving forward, Mr Calcat also declared that there would not be a Megane RS wagon (estate) in the foreseeable future.
“Frankly the answer is probably no,” he said. “We have not done in the past. We are very happy with the (one rung down) GT Estate, which works. We toyed with the idea of doing an RS Estate. The previous (K95) Megane GT had the Megane RS engine slotted in it but with a detuned engine (220 brake horsepower), but we wouldn’t develop a wagon version.
“Again, It’s a matter of resources. Right now, we have 10 different Renault Sport models, including GT-Line, GT and RS, and we have five different bodies. We’ve developed the Sandero RS (for South American markets), we also have Twingo GT, Megane GT and RS hatch, Megane GT Estate and Clio RS. We sell 50,000 units per year around the world, so we don’t have huge resources, and so we try to invest where we see potential.
“Plus, Renault is also wary of a Megane RS wagon taking customers away from the bread-and-butter hatch. If we were to have an RS estate it would probably cannibalise a lot of the hatch sales. Would it actually bring additional sales? I don’t think so.”
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