To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The report of the Renault Megane’s death was an exaggeration.”
Rumours have abounded Renault might axe its small car, but Reuters reports the company’s new CEO, Luca de Meo, has committed to its future.
Three sources told the news organisation de Meo wants the Megane to be a pillar of its future C-segment ranges, with the Megane expected to spawn a sporty crossover variant.
A source told Reuters, “Luca de Meo wants to develop slightly different silhouettes to add value.”
A crossover Megane would overlap somewhat with the Arkana coupe SUV, which will be introduced next year in both Australia and Europe. Renault also has the Kadjar in this space, though it’ll be discontinued locally.
A leaked internal memo seen by Reuters showed Renault needed to cut back on the number of products within its model ranges by around 30 per cent.
The Espace, part of the Renault range since 1984 and the first European MPV, is reportedly on the chopping block, as is the mid-sized Talisman sedan and wagon range.
Renault will also reportedly axe the Scenic, the vehicle that effectively ignited the small MPV segment in Europe in the 1990s.
Last year, Renault sold 129,222 Meganes in Europe, which meant it was outsold by the traditionally much lower-volume Seat Leon from de Meo’s last company. That tally was down from 270,381 in 2010 and well off from the Megane’s all-time high of 465,778 sales in 2004.
Segment stalwarts have declined over the same period but not quite as precipitously. For example, Volkswagen sold 497,051 Golfs in 2010 and 410,779 in 2019, while Ford sold 269,412 examples of its Focus in 2010 and 224,401 last year.
In contrast, Renault sold 407 Meganes last year in Australia, down from 2066 sales in 2015. The current local range has been dramatically pared down since 2015, however, and now comes only in hot R.S. Cup, R.S. Sport and R.S. Trophy models.
While Renault has said it’s focussing on its SUV and van range, it has committed to the Megane in Australia.
A spokesperson from Renault Australia said, “The Megane R.S. is a staple of our line-up and we are looking forward to an updated version of our popular hot hatch arriving in the first half of 2021.”
The Megane lost its convertible with the redesign in 2016. Since then, it’s shed its sedan, wagon and three-door hatchback variants in 2018, as well as its sporty GT-Line and GT five-door hatchbacks in 2019, to focus on the R.S. models.
Rumours of the Megane’s death were fuelled by remarks from design chief Laurens van den Acker back in May.
At the time, he said, “The Megane is in a segment that’s increasingly under pressure. You have to put your money where the future of the market is.”