Renault stages bold comeback into NZ market

Renault stages bold comeback into NZ market

“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years” is how the famous LL Cool J rap lyrics roll and today they ring true for car brand Renault who has unveiled a bold strategy for increasing sales in the NZ market.

After minimal sales in New Zealand last year, Renault is punching off the ropes and expanding its model range with vehicles positioned in very different core market segments. Renault’s offerings will include the new Fluence sedan, Megane Hatch, Megane Coupe-Cabriolet and the Koleos SUV. The new-to-NZ models were unveiled as part of a press event held in Auckland yesterday.

The models have just gone on sale as Renault adopts “Drive the Change” as its brand positioning statement, a phrase to reflect its new direction into the NZ mainstream motoring environment.

“Drive the Change” expresses the fundamental values of the Renault business culture – enthusiastic, innovative and human,” says Renault Cars General Manager, Stephen Kenchington. “Renault is investing proactively for growth with the all-new European styled and engineered Renault Mégane Hatch, the segment-reshaping Fluence Sedan, and stylish and chic glass-roofed Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet and Koleos SUV.”

“For the ultimate in European enthusiast sports machines, Kiwi drivers will be offered the visually exciting, muscled and toned new Mégane RS 250 Cup or Cup Trophée models. These will re-set the benchmark in terms of performance, equipment, attainability, as well as head-turning good looks that really stand out.”

“All our new generation vehicles will be notable for their very high level of standard equipment and unique-to-class, user-friendly features,” added Kenchington.

Renault is certainly talking a good game and there’s some solid reasoning behind their confidence. The French carmaker remains the number one car brand in its domestic market and the Renault Group experienced a bumper year in 2010 with 2.6 million vehicles sold globally. With very few of those sales made here in NZ, how does Renault plan on turning their fortunes around across our land?

Renault currently has just four dealerships in NZ a number that will likely grow to help facilitate sales and service. Not happy with just niche offerings Renault will now compete in the mainstream market and is aiming at pulling people away from Japanese cars with its highly styled European options in the same price bracket. Renault will also work overtime in cultivating a brand reputation for stability and continuity while focusing on quality, safety and value within its products.

During the press event Car and SUV had a drive in each of Renault’s current offerings. While the Megane RS hot hatches haven’t touched down just Renault’s higher volume models made for some impressive motoring.

Renault Fluence

The Fluence is a small/mid size sedan that’s set to play a strong role in the revitalisation of the Renault brand and help extend its reach into new areas of the market. With elegant styling and generous space for passengers and cargo the Fluence is distinctive and practical. It offered a fairly soft ride during our drive and won’t match vehicles like the Mazda6 and Suzuki Kizashi for dynamic ability but it has plenty of equipment for the price and is a comfortable cruiser. Powered by a 103kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine the Fluence returns 7.8-litres/100km economy helped by a CVT automatic as standard.
Price: $34,990

Renault Megane Hatch

The Megane hatch has experienced major success overseas and is prepared to compete in the largest and most competitive segment in the NZ market. With cerative design and a solid quality cabin the Megane isn’t outclassed by any Japanese competition. During our drive the Megane showed good handling abilities and a characterful driving experience. The Megane makes use of the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine as the Fluence producing 102kW of power and 195Nm of torque. It will be offered in three specifications with two using a CVT transmission and a manual version for budget conscious self shifters. It’s a unique machine and while the Megane hatch may not appeal to all tastes it’s certainly competent and well equipped.
Price: $31,990 – $39,990

Renault Megane Coupe-Cabriolet

The Megane CC (pictured top) is squarely aimed at those looking for affordable European al fresco motoring. It’s nicely refined with the glass roof up and takes just 21 seconds for the electronic mechanism to stow it away. The CC will be offered as a single model using the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine as the hatchback version but fuel economy is rated at 8.1-litres/100km. Bold styling inside and out is a highlight and while it doesn’t drive like a sports car it’s an enjoyable steer especially with the roof dropped. The leather seats are comfortable and the standard equipment list is lengthy. All up, the Megane CC makes for a credible competitor against Peugeot’s 308 CC and VW’s Eos.
Price: $54,990

Renault Koleos

Following a recent facelift the Koleos still looks like no other SUV on the market and is offered in a choice of three variants. The entry-level model is a 2WD version with a 2.5-litre four cylinder petrol engine mated to a CVT auto gearbox. The mid-spec model sees the addition of a 4WD system and the top spec Koleos has a 2.0-litre diesel engine, four-wheel-drive and a six-speed conventional auto transmission. Standard features across the range include air-con, Bluetooth, cruise control, trip computer and 17-inch alloy wheels. Both of the 4WD models add goodies like hill descent control, integrated satellite navigation, park control and a 6 speaker sound system. The Koleos continues to offer practical family motoring for those who want to be a little different
Price: $37,990 – $49,990

The new vehicles are set to usher in an exciting growth period for Renault in NZ, expect to see a few more on our roads and check back for full Car and SUV reviews of some of these models and hopefully the Megane RS 250 hot hatch when it touches down in NZ soon.

To find out more about Renault’s new range click here to visit the Renault NZ website.

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