One of Australia’s most iconic hot hatches will shuffle off into the sunset in 2023, its maker has confirmed, but electrified replacements will eventually fill the performance void.
The Renault Megane R.S. will be available in limited numbers into next year, but won’t see 2024 as Renault globally moves away from its petrol-fired performance cars.
There are a small number of Megane R.S. models around at the moment, and a batch is expected to arrive in the early stages of 2023. It’s unlikely there’ll be a farewell special edition.
The much-loved hot hatch won’t be directly replaced, although the Megane badge will take on a new form when the Megane E-Tech electric crossover arrives here late next year.
“For Australia [it] will finish up next year,” Renault Australia general manager Glen Sealey told CarExpert this week, saying he would “miss it terribly” since he daily drives one.
Mr Sealey took the reins at Renault Australia in April 2021, when private distributor Ateco became the official distributor. It has grown the company’s sales by 40 per cent this year.
Australia has long been a major buyer of the Megane R.S. – particularly for the older, manual-only three-door model that preceded today’s higher-tech five-door offering. For years, Renault Australia bragged about being a top three market, often alongside France and Japan.
With the smaller Clio R.S. killed off a few years ago, the Megane’s death will leave Renault’s once enviable cupboard of pocket rockets looking bare. In so doing the French brand will take the same path as Ford Australia, which has killed off the Fiesta ST and Focus ST.
Renault globally is placing its planned performance range under the Alpine brand umbrella.
While the Alpine A110 coupe was axed from Australia in 2021 due to a change in Design Rules, the brand itself looks to have a future in this market longer-term.
We already know Alpine is planning to go all-electric by the middle of the decade and recently showed off its A110 E-ternité “rolling laboratory” concept which uses the same battery modules as the Megane E-Tech.
The brand plans to reveal its roadgoing electric replacement for th A110 mid-decade, built in partnership with British sports car specialist Lotus (owned by China’s Geely), using the brand’s new E-Sport electric platform.
Alpine is also planning to launch a high-performance electric crossover called the GT X-Over, and a hotter version of the upcoming 2024 Renault 5 EV, which would be the closest thing it offered to a traditional hot hatch.
“There’s an electrifying future, we’ve got terrific product coming through,” Mr Sealey told us recently. “… Any new product that’s announced from the EV side, we have our hands up for.”
For a little tease of its intentions here, consider the Renault R5 Turbo 3E concept revealed on September 23 this year.
According to Renault, the Turbo 3E is designed to drift, and as such has two electric motors, one for each of the rear wheels, generating a total of 280kW and 700Nm.
A smallish 42kWh lithium-ion battery pack is said to be good for “several laps or a raging gymkhana”, and tips the scales at only 520kg.
Coupled with a tubular chassis, FIA-approved roll cage, flat underbody and body that weighs just 980kg, the Turbo 3E is said to be able to complete the 0-100km/h dash in 3.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 200km/h.