That's because, if you want to establish some street credibility in the Australian market you need a halo car, preferably a coupe. So after eight years of battling to re-establish its local identity, Renault Australia finally has a car that could pitch the brand into the mainstream, the Megane coupe.
The company's managing director, Rudi Koenig, this week confirmed that the coupe would join the line-up around June next year with a hatch and sedan to follow. Koenig believes the new-generation Megane has the potential to be a volume player. It wants to start with the coupe to establish some credibility and recognition, much like the impact the Koleos has had among buyers, he says
The Megane will be pitched as a volume seller with keen pricing to attack the dominant Japanese players. "We will clearly be concentrating on these Japanese rivals," he says. That means pricing could start around $22,000 for an entry hatch, rising to VW Golf GTi territory for the performance-oriented coupe.
"Megane will be a car in both hatch and sedan form that will be very important for us," he says.
"The small car segment is vital and it's the segment that produces the highest volume selling cars. "We have to succeed in that segment."
Renault could have introduced the European-built Megane sooner but it would have had a premium European price. "In that segment, let's face it, we are the weakest because our previous model's shape wasn't accepted in the market," Koenig says. "The new Megane has a mature, sporty shape that has global appeal."
The coupe will be sourced from France. It has taken a long time to secure the new Megane because Koenig wanted the "international" version of the hatch and sedan, which will be built in both Turkey and South Korea.
"The basic design and DNA will be maintained but some features will be specific to Australia," he says.
Renault Australia is now working out potential sourcing and has several options. It can import the hatch and sedan from Turkey or from its Renault-Samsung affiliate in South Korea.
"That will be decided before the end of this year," he says. "That's one of the pressing issues I will be discussing with Paris."
The sedan and hatch may even end up coming from different plants and could have different names.
"That's to be sorted out," he says. "But we are determined to bring in a car that gives us a competitive edge, either in the vehicle itself or value proposition."
The range-topping coupe arrives first, closely followed by a hatch and sedan by the end of 2010. In Europe the coupe is available with three petrol engines and three dCi turbo-diesel engines. Renault Australia is expected to go for one or two highly specified models.
At the top-end the choices are a six-speed manual 134kW/300Nm 2.0-litre TCe petrol turbo or a 104kW/195Nm normally aspirated petrol four with CVT transmission, as well as a 96kW/300Nm 1.9-litre dCi with a six-speed manual.
In Europe the even the entry model gets 16-inch alloys, air conditioning, electronic stability control with anti-skid regulation and understeer control, six airbags, electric heated body coloured door mirrors, cruise control and electric windows.