Comments made in March by Renault Sport Technologies CEO Patrice Ratti suggested the next-generation Renault Megane RS – expected in 2017 – could follow the path of the all-new fourth-generation Clio RS200 (pictured below) in being exclusively offered with an automatic transmission.
Speaking at the launch of the new Clio GT, Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar indicated to CarAdvice there's no confirmation of the manual gearbox being axed just yet, but there's always the possibility.
"Look, they're keen to produce cars for the global market that will sell,” Hocevar said of the potential for the new-generation Megane RS to adopt a dual-clutch automatic transmission rather than continue to be offered with a six-speed manual only.
“Europe still has a very high uptake of manuals, and there's still a lot of people who would like to see a manual, so I wouldn't say that it's a fait accompli yet. I think that there's still some scope for it but time will tell. And I think when we look at the example of Clio [RS200] versus the [manual-only] Clio III RS, which was a fantastic enthusiasts' car, the Clio IV RS is a fantastic enthusiasts' car that a lot more people can live with.”
Speculating on powerplants for the Megane IV-based RS, Hocevar expects more fuel saving and emission lowering technology and supporting of the electrical systems rather than the use of “true hybrid technology as we know it in the market at the moment”.
“There's not a lot of scope for Renault to pursue that channel,” Hocevar said.
“Renault's taken the view that [hybrid is] sort of an interim measure, let's say a Band-Aid to fixing the bigger problem, and the bigger solution is going full EV.
"Say, for example, would we see a hybrid Megane? No. Would we see full EV models come from Renault? Yes."
Already heavily involved in EV development with the likes of the Zoe, Twizy and Kangoo Z.E. and Fluence Z.E. – not to mention supplying electric powerplants to the all-electric FIA Formula E championship series set to debut in September – the French car maker's capacity for future EV-based innovations appears strong.
If the Renault Twizy RS F1 concept (pictured above) from last year is any indication, Hocevar suggested the brand is open to the possibility of future production EV RS models. Of the chance of such models becoming a saleable production reality, he said: "Never say never."
In the meantime, Renault will debut its potent facelifted Megane RS as part of a range refresh in July, with a special edition model to celebrate the brand’s expect reclamation of the Nurburging front-wheel-drive lap record – as has been teased by the brand with its #under8 social media campaign – likely to follow.
Following the new-look Megane line will be the again-delayed Renault Captur in the third quarter of the year, while the recently unveiled third-generation Renault Trafic mid-size van arrives early to mid 2015.