Xavier Gobille unveils complete Renault SA product offensive at JIMS, renews brands support for the region
- Renault SA unveils first new models in two years – representing an extensive boost to the brand’s locally-available range
- Details confirmed commitment to SA motoring sector by Renault global, with investment into local production of new affordable Sandero
Renault SA celebrated a milestone month for the company, and the brand in the local market, culminating in its Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS) multiple-debut, as it takes the wraps off of five distinct new model ranges – not individual models – being added to Renault showrooms across the country over the next few months!
Xavier Gobille, Managing Director of Renault South Africa, takes up the tale of commitment to our region; “It’s been two years since we’ve launched a new model into the country, but now we’ve got five to announce! It’s a sure indication of the increased commitment the South African market is enjoying from this global automotive presence, and this product offensive represents just the most visible signs of this dedication, more on which later.”
The five new models each represent a distinctly new approach from the already distinctive brand, in their own way answering customer demands in a variety of modern customer segments. The sudden, dramatic bolstering of Renault’s product lineup in the country is sure to grow the brand’s market share in the crucial year ahead by providing satisfied existing customers with the choice of upgrading to another model in the Renault family, in just about any life stage, filling key gaps in the company’s overall product strategy with soundly-engineered, flagrantly styled and luxuriously specced vehicles.
The last vehicle unveiled by Gobille to the assembled ranks of the press and visiting dignitaries, is in fact the most relevant to the South African motoring industry, as not only is the new Sandero a superbly practical, comfortable, and affordable five-door hatchback it will also be manufactured locally at the Nissan South Africa (NSA) facility situated in Rosslyn.
This manufacturing commitment represents an enormous R1-billion investment into the country, as well as the creation of 300 more jobs in the automotive sector before the plant goes on line in January 2009. “While the Renault brand itself may be French, we’re pleased and proud to be a part of the team which is seeing Renault become African,” comments Gobille.
The Sandero itself responds to the growing trend for real automotive value, offering consumers a vehicle which is exceptionally roomy and practical, with an attractive list of luxury specifications, at a price of just R99 950. Backed by an unswerving commitment to engineering excellence, the new Sandero employs robust, reliable components backed by a proven drivetrain delivering years of uninterrupted service and long-term affordability.
Renault Laguna Coupe Concept
Before Gobille, ably assisted by scholars from one of Renault’s proudest CSR investments – the Valued Citizens Initiative (VCI) – lifted the veil on this key model, the attendant audience had been hushed by the revealing of the beauty that is the Renault Laguna Coupe Concept car.
Seen for the first time in Geneva this year, this classically proportioned, deeply seductive shape has already been confirmed as a production reality, although certain elements will of course be altered from this Concept car. It’s presence does however represent a promise that this stunning shape will come to SA shores shortly after launching internationally in 2009.
Representing the polar opposite of the automotive value scale, this irrepressibly alluring Coupe has been designed for those who appreciate the aesthetics of a pure drivers’ car, can see the value in the metallic artform of car design. Mr Gobille sums it up; “An inspiring, four-seater with genuine sensual appeal – combined with unprecedented performance and driving pleasure – we are confident that LAGUNA COUPÉ will capture the hearts of many.”
Although Renault SA did not go into the technical specifications of the finalised production car, international markets have had a high-tech six-cylinder turbodiesel unit incorporating the latest diesel technology to produce a whopping 450Nm of torque, and a similarly-impressive power output knocking on the door of 200kW.
This strong urge will be channelled to the front wheels via an intelligent, and creamy, 6-speed automatic transmission, while the Coupe’s level of dynamic ability is taken to another plane with an advanced four-wheel-steering Active Drive chassis. A petrol V6 is also available, for old-school enthusiasts, as are other sparkling motors in the existing Laguna range.
The presentation had gone from modern, urban chic to high-fashion on the automotive modelling runway, with the Renault Twingo unveiling preceding the visually-arresting Coupe. Not that the Twingo isn’t eye-catching in its own right, the aesthetics perfectly matching Renaults proud boast of this being the epitome of the city car ethos.
It’s undeniably cute, featuring compact dimensions while still incorporating unmistakable Renault family styling cues to further set it apart from the crowd. The new Twingo speaks the energy put into it by this passionate French team, seemingly bursting with enthusiasm even within the confines of the JIMS halls.
And yet despite this terrier-like impression, this is a small city car which excels in practicality as well. In fact it’s a true master of duality; funky yet comfortable, easy to handle yet secure on the open road, economical yet exceptionally safe, and even packing integrated communications features in-line with its distinctly modern image.
“For Renault, compromise is not in our nature, so we bring you the Twingo. An ultra funky little vehicle, Twingo combines top class practicality with motoring comfort while offering a host of customization and connectivity options. Representative of Renault’s new ECO2 symbol, Twingo affirms our commitment to a product offering that is both economical and ecological,” said Gobille of this exciting new model.
The new Renault Koleos had its wraps lifted before the Twingo, a first for Renault for being shipped with a factory-fitted 4WD system. It also represents the company’s first foray into all new waters of the automotive market, Koleos being a crossover vehicle offering the looks and space of a sporty SUV, the performance and economy of a good passenger car, and the offroad capabilities of a proper adventure vehicle in one flamboyant body package.
This model is based on the fruits of the Renault Nissan Samsung triumvirate, with the All-Mode 4X4-I drivetrain already seen in action on Nissan’s X-Trail SUV adding to both on-road security in slippery conditions, and outright off-road traction. It’s a modern and highly effective electronic design which splits power distribution from 100 percent to the front wheels, to 50-50 front to rear, as conditions demand.
“Renault inside 4×4 outside – This is why we like to call Koleos ‘The Complete Crossover,” explains Gobille succinctly.
And preceding this extensive range of superb new Renault models and neatly bookending the range with value propositions first and last to be unveiled, the new Renault Logan sedan, available in SA showrooms immediately before local production of its hatchback sibling Sandero gets rolling in January 2009.
Sharing the same B0 platform as the Sandero, Logan offers the identical, strong value proposition of this affordable hatchback. A similarly generous interior, extensive spec sheet and affordable purchase price, the Logan is even more practical with its commodious boot, ideal for the growing family in need of a reliable, affordable daily driver.
Despite the same R99 950 starting price tag, even entry level Logan models packs niceties such as power steering, electric windows, ABS with EBD and front airbags. A gutsy 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine is optimised for torque for relaxed stop-start driving. It also features a class-leading boot volume as well as the exceptionally roomy interior that the versatile B0 platform provides.
Model additions address new markets, commitment entrenches new positions in all
After revealing all five of these new models to the JIMS audience, Gobille concluded his presentation with the results of the 2008 Synovate Vehicle Quality Awards, announced in October. The proud recipient of two top accolades, the brand’s achievement in this respected study reflects it’s tireless commitment to driving quality at all levels, from engineering through to customer service, Renault has achieved tangible successes across the board.
He continues to assure the assembled guests of the arrival of the Renault Sport Twingo during the course of next year, completing the new Twingo lineup, as well as promising support from Renault South Africa to customers looking to source full-blooded race cars available from this performance-dedicated arm, from Megane Cups to Formula Renault single seaters. Clearly the Renault brand is keen to throw its full might into the region to drive the anticipated growth levels.
Concludes Gobille; “Market conditions – both globally and locally – continue to be challenging in the extreme. But, we believe that there are exciting times ahead; we are confident of Renault’s turnaround in South Africa and have concrete strategies in place to ensure this. It is my experience that companies get turned around by good products. And from what you have seen here today, clearly we have no shortage of these:”