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