Renault took a lunge upmarket at the turn of the century with the bustle-backed Mégane. Sales soared for a few years, then fell of a cliff. Then came today’s Mégane, which looks hastily styled and lacks character.
In the UK, Renault has suffered badly. In 2005 it had 7% of the market, but sales then collapsed. Renault UK axed the Modus, Wind, Laguna, Espace and Kangoo in 2011 and its market share bottomed out at 2% in 2013.
The good news is that the current Clio and Captur have hit the spot, with UK sales leaping from 46,173 units in 2013 to 66,334 in 2014 - a 44% increase.
But the Clio and Captur are fun, affordable cars. With the new Mégane, Renault wants a different image that suggests a deeper quality. Cracking that in the UK will be harder than in the rest of Europe, because Renault isn’t importing the impressive new Espace or the Laguna-replacing Talisman saloon, both of which would have reinforced the positioning of the new Mégane.