RENAULT wants to offer a greater range of Clio variants in Australia than it does at present once the next-generation model surfaces overseas in September next year.
The French car-maker currently sells only RS hot-hatch versions of the Clio in Australia, with prices starting from $36,490, but is keen to tap into the burgeoning light-car segment against European rivals such as the Volkswagen Polo.
Set for its global debut at next year’s Paris motor show from September 29, the next Clio should be the first new model to take on the daring trends set out by design boss Laurens van den Acker with the curvaceous Dezir and Zoe concepts at the French show in 2010.
The car-maker’s facelifted Twingo city hatch became its first production car to take on hints of the new design direction in August this year, with a front end treatment featuring sleeker headlights and a slim-line grille integrated with an oversized Renault badge.
Details on the next-generation Clio are still scarce, but expect an array of frugal diesel and petrol engines, with the range once again headlined by a Clio Sport hot hatch.
From top: Renault Clio Sport, overseas Clio hatch, DeZir concept and facelifted Twingo.
Renault has also invested heavily in electric vehicle technology alongside alliance partner Nissan, but with the Clio-sized Zoe EV set for production from mid-2012 it seems unlikely that the Clio will come in zero emissions guise for the foreseeable future.
The French car-maker’s Australian arm has indicated that the next Clio would go on-sale here within six months of overseas sales commencing if it gets the green light from headquarters, meaning a likely debut around mid-2013.
Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar said at the recent Megane diesel launch that he was “disappointed we don’t have it (current Clio) now, but it’s getting on in its design life”.
Mr Hocevar said the business case for introducing more next-generation Clio variants to the local market was “looking promising” and that he had already seen the forthcoming model, which he described as being “definitely worth the wait”.
A re-entry into the prospering light-size vehicle segment would be a timely addition to the brand’s local portfolio and allow it to keep its current sales growth firmly on the boil.
“There’s a renewed sense of enthusiasm and winning spirit within our organisation,” said Mr Hocevar.
“We’re closing the gap on our strategic competitors; in fact we’re the closest we’ve been since the brand re-launched in 2002 … and we’re well on track to achieve our 2011 sales volume objectives.
“But its still early days and we realise we’re still in a transition phase towards bigger and better things for 2012 and beyond.”
Renault’s Australian sales have almost doubled so far this year – 2513 sales to the end of September compared to 1310 over the same period in 2010 – thanks to an influx of new models such as the Megane three- and five-door range, Fluence small sedan and Latitude large sedan.
The company also attributes much of this sales growth to its introduction of a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty on most passenger cars, as well as its new financial services arm, which offered an introductory rate of only 1.9 per cent on most passenger vehicles when it commenced in May this year.