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Renault's Asian move


Renault to rely on South Korea for its new compact SUV, the RAV4-rivalling Koleos

24 Aug 2007

RENAULT claims product diversity will underpin its growth in Australia inside the next five years.

Key to this is the introduction late next year, or in early 2009, of a South Korean-built compact SUV to challenge the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.

Based on the Koleos Concept presented at the 2006 Paris motor show last September – as well as the virtually identical Samsung QMX Concept revealed in Seoul earlier this year – the as-yet unnamed Renault soft-roader/crossover SUV is expected to debut in production guise at the Frankfurt motor show next month.

It will be the first French-badged SUV to ever be sold in Australia.

Co-developed and built by Samsung Motors (in which Renault owns an 80 per cent share) in South Korea, this vehicle will be sold in different markets as both a Renault and a Samsung.

As a result of sourcing it from Asia, Renault should be price-competitive with Japanese and Thai-built rivals which dominate the light-SUV segment in Australia.

Much of the SUV’s architecture and mechanical hardware – including the MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension set-up, as well as the part-time on-demand 4WD system – will be derived from the new-generation Nissan X-Trail.

However, the body and interior will be completely different to the Nissan, while the Samsung version will have its own alterations to differentiate it from the French-badged vehicle.

Overseas reports suggest that front-wheel drive-only models may also be offered in some markets, although the lower import duty that 4WD vehicles attract in Australia will probably rule this out for our market.

Renault will be at the forefront of the compact SUV game, with stability, traction and hill-descent control, as well as ABS and a swag of airbags, all included in the package.

On the engine front, the latest-generation dCi common-rail turbo-diesel engines will probably be available in Australia from launch, joining the 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol unit expected to be on offer. In Europe, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol powerplant is also part of the plan.

Speaking at the launch of the Megane sedan diesel and Renaultsport hatch range earlier this month, Renault managing director Rudi Koenig revealed that the SUV will be a vital player in the growth of the brand in Australia.

“This vehicle will give us a much wider reach of the market,” Mr Koenig said. “We are certainly looking forward to getting that car.” Mr Koenig is also keen to challenge any perceived notions of cost-cutting or money-saving as a result of the SUV having an inexpensive Asian source. “Unlike some other vehicles that are rebadged Korean product, ours is based on a Nissan platform … that has been designed as a global vehicle,” he said.

The last Renault model to use 4WD was the RX4, a jumped-up version of the original Scenic mini-MPV sold locally from 2001 to 2004. It utilised several bespoke body panels, a simplified and toughened torsion beam rear suspension set-up and part-time AWD.

Read more:

Renault eyes diesel duties

Koleos may be a contender for Australia

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