The next-generation Renault Megane RS may follow the smaller Clio RS in ditching its traditional manual gearbox entirely in favour of a dual-clutch automatic transmission (DCT).
Speaking exclusively with CarAdvice at the Geneva motor show, Renault Sport Technologies CEO Patrice Ratti confirmed it was logical to offer a DCT in the next-generation Megane RS hot-hatch, which is due to launch around 2017.
“I think it will also make sense to have a dual-clutch on future Megane [RS],” began Ratti, “because now almost one-third of our sales of Megane [RS] are outside Europe in countries like Australia and Japan where dual-clutch will be appreciated.”
Ratti admitted the switch from manual to auto in the Clio RS200 (pictured below) had generated “mixed feelings” since its launch last year.
“The public really likes it [the DCT]. We had very good reports from all over.
“The journalists… Some of them really like it, others say a manual gearbox [is] something more masculine or aggressive. But overall we are happy with our choice because we have a pretty good combination. You can use it in automatic and have good fuel consumption and you have Race mode where you can change [gears] yourself.
“I think it’s the right choice and I think it’s the way sporty cars are going. In racing it’s the only thing you have, so we think we have the right direction. It will take some time for everybody to get used to it, but we don’t regret the choice.”
Ratti acknowledged the numerous advantages DCTs offered customers compared with manual transmissions, including faster gearshift times and quicker acceleration, better fuel economy, and the potential to incorporate features such as launch control and paddleshifters.
He said Renault Sport had not completely shut the door on the possibility of offering both manual and dual-clutch transmissions in the next-generation Megane RS, but said the decision to retain the manual would have to be supported by a solid business case.
“We have to study it [keeping the manual] very carefully,” Ratti said.
“It’s a question mainly of profitability: can you handle both versions, or do you need to consider it some more?”
Ratti revealed a personal soft spot for the manual and a preference for offering both transmissions, believing demand still existed for both.
“I think for the next 10 years there will still be a market for it [a manual Megane RS],” he said.
“I’m sure that in some time everyone will shift to dual-clutch, but for the next few years, if we can afford both, it would be good.”