Renault Australia‘s managing director Justin Hocevar has declared that he’d love to offer the 2015 Renault Twingo in Australia – but there’s a problem.
The French brand’s tiny rear-wheel-drive, rear-engined Twingo city car slots below the Clio in the line-up, and as such it is expected to be sharply priced in the European market – something that Renault Australia may struggle to replicate, according to Hocevar.
Speaking at the launch of the new Renault Clio GT, Hocevar said he would love to see the Twingo in Renault showrooms across Australia, and that he would strongly consider any RS sports variant that could potentially come along. But he admitted that pricing is what will determine the car’s fortunes for the local market.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Hocevar said, “We’d love to have it in Australia but we’re not prepared to bring it to Australia and have it uncompetitive in its class.
“And we take a view that that segment is extremely competitive – all the action is between that $13-$15k driveway – and for a European brand to compete in that space is tough.”
Referencing Volkswagen Australia’s recent decision to axe it’s manual-only Up! due to “insignificant” sales volume, Hocevar said the segment is a difficult one due to it currently being “predominantly dominated by pretty low-cost Korean and Japanese vehicles”.
“We think Twingo’s a great car and we’d love to compete in that space but I think from a pricing point of view it’d be pushing up too close to the B-segment hatches and that’s when it’s going to become uncompetitive.”
When asked if – similar to earlier Clio variants – a sole performance variant could be exclusively offered to local buyers rather than a full model range, Hocevar responded by saying sport derivatives of any given model are automatically put into a completely different price point.
“There’s a whole lot of different reasons for purchase. It’s less pragmatic, functional reasons and, let’s say, more emotive reasons.
“I think that if Renault Sport were to lend their hand to the next-generation Twingo and the specs of the car stood up well and the performance and price was right, yeah, it’s something that we’d entertain.
“The fact that it’s rear-drive, rear-engine, [has] a super tight turning circle, incredibly smart use of space for a small vehicle, makes it extremely interesting and pretty exciting.”
Sadly for enthusiasts, Renault corporate design senior vice president Laurens van den Acker has previously said that while the new Twingo embodied many traditional sports car qualities that make an RS version a tantalising prospect, packaging limitations may prove the death of any potential sports version inspired by the outrageous 235kW/380Nm V6-powered three-door Twin’Run concept.
“If I had a wish it would be to make a proper RS version,” van den Acker told CarAdvice at the car’s international debut at March’s 2014 Geneva motor show, “but it’s too early to say.”
Back in February, Renault Australia corporate communications and sponsorship manager Emily Ambrosy told CarAdvice the local division was still considering the tiny but mighty model saying: “At this point it’s not looking very likely – but it’s certainly not off the agenda.”
Based on the same platform as the upcoming Smart ForTwo and ForFour – and reportedly sharing up to 70 per cent of their parts – the 3581mm-long Renault Twingo is powered by a choice of a 51kW/91Nm 1.0-litre or 66kW/136Nm turbocharged 0.9-litre three-cylinder petrol engine.