Renault’s UK arm announced this week that the final Megane RS unit had rolled off the line in Palencia and was being sold by a dealer in Dundee. The French company produced more than 30,000 units of the iconic three-door turbocharged hot hatch over a seven-year life cycle.
In many ways a throwback to a more pure era, the manual-only coupe has become something of an icon, a simple front-drive corner-carver low on frills but high on dynamism.
Indeed, Australia has long been one of the world’s top few markets for the car, punching well above its weight alongside fellow right-hook markets the UK and Japan, and often challenging sales in the French domestic market. It was overall number two in 2015.
Given this, the managing director of Renault Australia, Justin Hocevar, told us today that the company had made the call to order a number of cars from the final production run, to tide buyers over for a while as we edge closer to the radically different next-generation Megane RS that launches in 2018.
“With such an uncompromisingly focused vehicle, there’s still plenty of life in this iconic model in the Australian market,” he said. “Therefore we feel it can run in parallel with the new Megane [in non RS guise] range for a period and therefore we have ordered up to extend its availability.”
As we have reported, buyers keen on the current car might want to jump in, because the next-generation Megane RS will be quite different, most notably on account of the fact it’ll be a five-door hatch.
We have seen a mule of the next RS Megane being tested, and noted the central twin pipes (in place of the current Megane RS’ single centre pipe), lowered suspension and big Brembo brakes.
The next Megane RS will get a power bump over the current car, with its turbocharged four-cylinder engine expected to produce 230kW-plus in answer to the game-changing Ford Focus RS.
Reports out of Europe also indicate that the car – unlike the manual-only current version – will get the option of two gearboxes: an EDC dual-clutch with paddles, and a conventional manual. That’ll certainly help Australian sales.
We asked Hocevar a few months ago if current-generation Megane RS fans had expressed concern over this broader direction.
“I would say, there is a bit of that,” he conceded, but added “the volume of feedback, though, is when are we going to get a paddle-shift car?”.
“I think in an ideal world we would be able to cater for both [manual and auto buyers],” he said, though added that the Clio RS could shape decisions around Megane RS.
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