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Big rear end gives way to curves

Despite a debut this month at the Paris motor show, with styling that finally ditches the dumpy J.Lo rump in favour of a chic new set of curves, the timing for a Down Under debut is not set and not certain for next year.

Renault Australia says it is committed to the new Megane hatch and coupe, as well as the many other Megane-based models that will follow, but says it can't short-cut the French company's global roll-out plan.

“We aim to be on sale in Australia within 12 months of the first sales in Europe,” says Renault Australia marketing chief Craig Smith.

“Megane is rolled out in Europe in November, and it's a staged roll-out that goes for quite a while after that.

“So the indicative timing here is late 2009 or early 2010 ... it's a case of being able to access the models we need.”

Smith says Renault concentrates first on left-hand drive at home in France, gradually spreading the footprint from there.

But he says the roll-out for the new Megane is also complicated by plans to build the cars in a number of factories.

“The international models don't come on stream for a while,” he says. “Some will be manufactured in Europe and some will not. The difference is the cost base.”

Renault's plan for Australia is still under discussion with head office and it is likely to be a mix-and-match process.

“We'll take both models,” Smith says. “So the final line-up will have cars made in Europe and some made somewhere else.”

However, just where else they might be made is not a certainty, according to Smith.

“That is still to be confirmed,” he says.

“The Koleos is made in Korea, we have factories in South America and eastern [Europe]. There are all sorts of choices.”

And what about the Megane line-up, which stretches to nine body styles in France?

Smith says it probably won't be all nine models, but also won't be too far off that.

The company will “definitely be looking at the RenaultSport models”. He has already seen the cars and is confident they could provide the final breakthrough for Renault Australia after more than five years of struggle and sluggish sales.

“The cars are sensational,” Smith says. “From a local point of view we can't get the cars soon enough. They are everything we need.

“It's a great looking car, the right size, and the right range of powertrains.”

And despite the 12-month delay before the arrival of the new Megane, Smith says the Megane sedan will take Renault part of the way through next year, but he says there will be a gap between the two.

Despite the delay, Smith says Renault Australia plans to be aggressive with their pricing, although he can't commit to a significant reduction from the current stickers, which run from $24,990 for the Megane sedan and $26,990 for the hatch.

“We'll aim to be in the largest segment of the market [with] pricing below where we are at the moment and with the same product.”


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