The facelifted Renault Megane range is being launched in Australia this week, and the company's local chief has responded to the car's recent Euro NCAP crash test score of three stars.
When the Renault Megane launched in 2008 it garnered a five-star Euro NCAP crash score. But in the European safety authority's latest round of testing the updated 2014 Megane managed only three stars due to a number of factors including a seatbelt reminder system that didn't offer information in enough languages. As with ANCAP, Euro NCAP is tightening its safety criteria every year, arguing that advances in technology must be taken into consideration.
Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar told CarAdvice the facelifted model is just as safe as it ever was for pedestrian and occupant protection, but admitted it would be a challenge to get that message across to buyers and dealers.
"By no means will we ignore [the three-star score]. There’s no doubt that when you receive a result like that it’s disappointing," he said. "It is a challenge for us to live with it, but we’ll go about our business of informing people of the facts. And they’ll come to realise that these sorts of confusing outcomes are not going to be to their detriment, or see them with less safety.
"But for me there’s probably a few analogies – one would be if you asked a sporting team to play under a new set of rules, when they’ve been playing under a different set of rules for a very long time, it’s an overnight change," Hocevar said.
"I can’t think of any examples – if any – of where this has happened before. Where a vehicle that is so late in its product life-cycle it gets retested under a completely new, stricter regime," he said.
"So there is a challenge for us, and that challenge is principally around the communication of it. So we’re having to do a big job to educate our dealers and the consumer around the facts," he said. "And for me the facts are that it was a five-star car. It achieved a best in class result – 37 out of 37. If it was tested again under that same criteria, nothing’s changed.Occupant safety, pedestrian safety, the gamut of safety systems are all available to provide genuine safety for the vehicle. None of that has changed.
"What has changed is that there is that new set of much stricter testing regimes for 2014, and things that would aid getting a higher score now would have been technology that just wasn’t available back then, and it’s not available in a lot of other vehicles that were even tested last year."
Hocevar hinted that there was a lack of realistic consideration in terms of the levels of safety technologies that are expected to be offered - and, in turn, for buyers to be expected to pay for.
"Automatic braking, lane-departure warning – these are some of the features that even here in Australia the consumer is not prepared to pay for yet," he said.
The car is expected to remain a five-star ANCAP recipient, as Renault advised CarAdvice that it had received "no advice from ANCAP" as to a change of score for the car.
"As it stands, they still classify it as a five-star vehicle," Hocevar said.
Stay tuned for more on the 2014 Renault Megane on Thursday, when the car's pricing and specifications will be released.