Renault Fluence 2011 Review

September 2nd, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

The Renault brand is striving to re-establish itself as a stylish alternative to more mainstream machinery in NZ with its success relying on three key models. There’s the well-known Megane hatch, the seen-it-round Koleos crossover and now, a small/med sedan named the Fluence. While the Megane is pegged to be the volume seller, it’s booted brother the Fluence has been given the tough task of pulling its weight in a market segment that’s recently become more dynamic and much more competitive. Can this Euro four-door trouble more established foes like the Mazda3 and Holden Cruze? Renault wants to find out and gave Car and SUV a test drive in the Fluence for a taster of French motoring in Aotearoa.

The Fluence is based on the Renault/Nissan C platform (like the Megane) and is manufactured in South Korea by Samsung. It’s available in NZ in one specification – petrol engine with an auto CVT transmission. At 4.6 meters long it’s large for the segment and offers more passenger and cargo space than most key competitors. Continue reading “Renault Fluence 2011 Review” »

Renault Twingo gets facelift for 2012

July 29th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Renault has just dropped the first image of its new 2012 Twingo micro car before it officially debuts at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show.

There is more than a hint of Nissan in the new Twingo with styling cues share with the Juke and it rolls on the same platform as the previous-generation Micra.

The new model features refreshed front a rear ends with an enlarged Renault badge on the front fascia and a rounder, wider grill. This limited refresh will need to carry the baby Renault for a few years but its nothing new for the model line. The first generation Twingo was in production for a staggering fifteen years from 1992 to 2007 when the second-gen model was initially introduced. Continue reading “Renault Twingo gets facelift for 2012” »

Renault and Williams destined for Clio hot hatch glory

July 18th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Back in the early ’90s Renault and Williams were dominating Formula One, and their success led to the creation of one of the best known hot hatches of all time. Now, with news that the two are getting back together for the 2012 F1 season, rumors have started flowing that they’ll once again collaborate on a new Clio-based hatch that could prove a very special machine.

This new hot hatch won’t be built overnight with little chance of Renault simply slapping on a new coat of paint, bigger alloys and some special badging. Instead, rumours are suggesting some major engine mods could result in a new Clio Williams that may produce as much as 180kW of power.

That figure is a large step up on the current Renaulsport Clio’s 146KW, and could even be enough to trouble its big brother – the 184kW Renaultsport Megane. The hot hatch could also include a chassis setup similar to the RS Clio Cup cars, but with the Sachs dampers from the more hardcore 2005 Clio Trophy and the brakes and rolling stock from the Megane Trophy car. Continue reading “Renault and Williams destined for Clio hot hatch glory” »

Renault facelifts Koleos SUV for 2012

June 24th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Renault has just revealed the facelift version of its Koleos SUV for the 2012 model year.

The refreshed Koleos features a thoroughly revised front end with a new chrome grille and slimmer, sportier headlamps. The side mirrors now include LED turn indicators.

In terms of power the Koloes will be built with three engine variants. Two diesel mills, the dCi 150 with a 110kW power output and the dCi 175 which pumps out 129kW.  For petrol fans there is a 125kW TR25 petrol engine that completes the small range. Exactly what Koleos variants will be offered in the NZ market hasn’t been announced.

The Koleos will continue to be built as either a 4×4 all-wheel drive or a 4×2 front drive model. There’s also a new colour on the Koleos palette, Cayenne Orange as pictured. Continue reading “Renault facelifts Koleos SUV for 2012” »

Renault Megane RS Trophy claims FWD record at the ‘Ring

June 20th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Renault has further pushed its claim of having the world’s hottest hatch by lowering its own longstanding lap record for a front-wheel drive production car at the Nordschleife. Renault first achieved this title in June 2008 when its Megane RenaultSport (RS) Trophy special claimed ultimate front-driving bragging rights.

The 197kW Megane RS took just  8 minutes and 7.97 seconds to lap the Nürburgring racetrack beating the time of the previous generation Mégane Renaultsport R26.R by 9 seconds. By comparison, another higher-powered hottest hatch contender the Ford Focus RS took 8 minutes and 26 seconds to complete a lap back in 2009.

The new record was set by Renault Sport’s development driver Laurent Hurgon, who understandably talked the car up, “The carefully-tuned Cup chassis, the dampers, the fade-resistant brakes, the Recaro seats, the power of the 265hp engine, the ready availability of torque between 2,500 and 5,000rpm and the car’s Bridgestone RE 050A (235/35 R19) tyres allowed me to make the most of the car’s enormous potential, especially into and out of the corners.”

The Trophy is a special edition of the standard Megane RS, power is increased by 11kW and torque by 20Nm through engine tweaks. The Trophy also comes standard with Formula 1-inspired Bridgestone Potenza RE050A high-performance tyres which may have made a big difference. Continue reading “Renault Megane RS Trophy claims FWD record at the ‘Ring” »

Renault Megane RS250 hot hatch goes on sale in NZ

May 11th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

Renault’s hot hatch, the Megane RS250 has just touched down in New Zealand.

It’s full name is the Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 and this French speedster is set to give Kiwi high performance hatch enthusiasts a new purchasing option.

The three door has a two litre turbocharged motor producing 184 kWs and 340 Nm of torque, which is fed to the road through a six speed manual gearbox and limited slip differential. It can cross off the 0-100kph sprint in 6.1 seconds and has an overall fuel consumption of just 8.7 litres/100 kms.

The Megane RS250 will be made available in two specification levels – “Cup” and “Trophee” models and will sell from $51,990.

Standard wheel fitment is 18 inch alloy wheels shod with 235/40 ZR18 tyres. Visible behind the alloys are four piston Brembo ventilated disc brakes, which make use of ABS and EBD. The chassis includes a traction control system and an electronic safety programme.

It’s this chassis which has helped the Megane RS250 when compared to other hot hatch rivals, many of which have similar straight line performance. This high handling ability has led to the Megane RS250 winning a load of awards overseas including Britain’s “What Car” best hot hatch.

Features on the RS250 Cup model include cruise control, automatic headlights and wipers, rear fog lights and parking sensors, headlight washers, an engine immobiliser and six speaker sound system with multimedia capability and Bluetooth. Continue reading “Renault Megane RS250 hot hatch goes on sale in NZ” »

Renault stages bold comeback into NZ market

April 14th, 2011 by Darren Cottingham

“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.” Continue reading “Renault stages bold comeback into NZ market” »

Renault to expand line-up in NZ and boost Koleos range

November 2nd, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

Renault is preparing to expand its range of models on the New Zealand market early in 2011 with the launch of the new Fluence sedan, Megane hatch, Megane Coupe Cabriolet, Megane 250RS Cup and Trophee models and the Koleos SUV.

The enlarged range of Renault’s Koleos should cater for a wide variety of buyers in the compact SUV market.

When the high riding five door arrives here early next year it will be available in 3 models, including two and four wheel drive options.

“Our customers enjoy the versatility of a compact SUV with its command driving position,” said Mark Patterson, the General Manager of Renault Cars New Zealand. “But they don’t always require the off road capabilities that come with an AWD. So to cater for this we will also make available a 2WD option.”

The still comprehensively equipped 2WD Koleos will be competitively priced with a 2.5 litre four cylinder petrol engine and Continuously Variable Transmission.

There will be two four wheel drive models available. The same petrol motor as in the 2WD is mated to a 4WD CVT gearbox, while a two litre diesel will come with a six speed automatic transmission.

“Renault has the compact SUV market covered with this range,” said Mr Patterson. “Whether the preference is diesel or petrol both 4WDs offer the ability to take their occupants to any kind of recreational destination in New Zealand.”

All three models come standard with a safety package that includes six air bags, ESP and ABS brakes.

Standard features across the range include air conditioning, a four speaker sound system, Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, 7 function trip computer, electric mirrors and windows, 17 inch alloy wheels and a rear spoiler.

The 2WD model also has the option of integrated satellite navigation and front fog lights.

Both 4WD models add hill descent and start assist control, dual climate control air conditioning, integrated satellite navigation, automatic park control, a central console, 6 speaker sound system, blinds on the rear side door windows, roof rails, front fog lights, automatic wipers and headlights, heated door mirrors, rear parking aid and iPod USB connectivity.

Optional extras include Xenon headlights, 18 inch alloy wheels and a sunroof.

Click here to read a Car and SUV review of the Renault Koleos.