Cheap and Chic

High spec­i­fi­ca­tion and a low price are the new Clio’s prom­ises

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News -

start­ing price of about $16,000. Its role is to bring more peo­ple to Re­nault and build on re­cent sales suc­cesses that have pro­duced a 30 per cent jump this year, in­clud­ing a record tally in June.

Re­nault Aus­tralia boss Justin Ho­ce­var con­firms Clio 4 will arrive in less than 12 months, with the Re­naultS­port ver­sion fol­low­ing by year’s end.

‘‘ We have an ap­petite for growth,’’ he says. ‘‘ What’s miss­ing is what Re­nault has al­ways done very well, and that’s the small­est hatch.’’

The cur­rent Re­naultS­port Clio has main­tained a niche pres­ence for the past two years, al­though even this well- re­garded hatch is strug­gling as it en­ters its twi­light.

The re­vival plan for next year means main­stream mod­els in­clud­ing a five-door hatch­back and a choice of petrol and diesel en­gines, a move in­tended to po­si­tion the Clio against the higher qual­ity small cars from Europe and Asia.

‘‘ It’s about try­ing to break through and be­come main­stream. We’re im­prov­ing the rel­e­vance to the lo­cal mar­ket,’’ Ho­ce­var says.

Re­nault has al­ready re­vealed the new look for Clio 4, which in­cludes a hatch­back shape that’s more like a coupe.

Full spec­i­fi­ca­tions and the model line-up will come at the Paris show, in­clud­ing a Cars­guide pre­view drive, but Ho­ce­var is not in­tend­ing to go early on the de­tails.

‘‘ What’s the price point?’’ Ho­ce­var says. ‘‘ It’s too early to an­nounce but it’s fair to say we’re tak­ing a more ag­gres­sive ap­proach to po­si­tion it in the

mar­ket­place. Nat­u­ral com­peti­tors are the Mazda2 through to Polo.

‘‘ Price? Let’s say high teens. We’ll tend to favour a rel­a­tively high level of spec­i­fi­ca­tion. We’ve got a fiveyear war­ranty, which some of the oth­ers don’t, and our ser­vic­ing is once a year.’’

Ho­ce­var knows the Clio has failed be­fore but be­lieves he knows the rea­son for a cam­paign that fiz­zled out with heav­ily dis­counted sales to rental com­pa­nies. The com­pany’s sales reached 2350 cars by the end of July, up from 1808 at the same time a year ago, and Ho­ce­var be­lieves all the com­pany’s ef­forts — from a bet­ter war­ranty cov­er­age to low-cost fi­nance and even a tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial shot in Sydney— have helped.

‘‘ It took off rea­son­ably well, and they did 1700 cars in the first full year. What didn’t work in that ve­hi­cle’s favour was cur­rency. By about 2006 the dol­lar-to-euro rate was com­pletely dif­fer­ent to what it is to­day.

‘‘ Have we reached the point of cross­ing over into main­stream? No, we haven’t. That’s a longer burn for us, and a case of care­ful man­age­ment to achieve that goal.’’

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