The last Renault Sport performance car – and what’s likely to be Renault’s last petrol-powered hot hatch – will bow out in 2023, and will be succeeded by the Megane E-Tech electric car.
The Renault Megane RS – the last performance model from Renault Sport, and Renault’s sole remaining petrol-powered hot hatch – has less than a year to live.
As Renault switches its small-car focus to electric vehicles – and the born-again Renault 5 electric city car emerges as the French company’s next hot hatch hero – the countdown has begun to the end of production for the Megane RS.
It will still be built in 2023 – and sold in Australia – but time and buyer preferences are against it, and production is set to end before the end of next year.
Renault has already confirmed the Megane name will continue in Australia with the all-new Megane E-Tech Electric in late 2023 – a small SUV, not a hatchback, and powered by batteries, not petrol.
“Megane E-Tech will [arrive] at the very end of next year. So a year away,” the general manager of Renault Australia, Glen Sealey, told Drive.
“Megane RS ceases next year. I don’t have the production end date yet, but from a production stand-point it won’t continue beyond the end of next year.
“The demand for a hot hatch in Europe is waning. That can be replaced with an electric car. And it makes commonsense to switch across.”
He said the current stock of Megane RS in Australia was only a handful of cars, although this would be replenished early in 2023. Wait times on new orders are believed to sit at approximately three to four months.
The only version currently available is the Megane RS Trophy, priced from $62,300 before on-road costs with a 1.8-litre turbo engine making 223kW and 420Nm (400Nm in the six-speed manual).
Prices have risen significantly in the last 12 months, from $53,990 plus on-road costs for a six-speed manual version in early 2021, to $62,300 in July 2022.
“I think there are about five or six in the entire dealer network today. We still start to get a little bit of production in the early months of next year. But then it ceases,” Sealey said.
Four years ago, the fire-cracker Megane RS sat at the top of a broad Megane line-up in Australia, alongside hatch, sedan and wagon body styles, and multiple RS model grades (Sport, Cup and Trophy) – but all have been axed as sales slow.
The RS was once part of a heated showroom battle in Australia, and still faces the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Honda Civic Type R, Hyundai i30 N and just-launched Cupra Leon – but many of its rivals including the Ford Focus ST have dropped out of the contest.
“For Australia, we will miss this car. There will be a limited production of a final run, but I don’t know what that will be as yet,” he said.
However, he predicts a new battle between the growing number of compact electric cars.
“In terms of Megane E-Tech, there are natural competitors from Volkswagen coming it. But you’ve also got the Tesla Model 3 and Polestar, although, to be fair, they are probably a bit larger than the Megane.”
The Megane E-Tech Electric is based on a new dedicated electric-car platform, and offers up to 470km of driving range – though with a 160kW electric motor and a 7.4-second 0-100km/h time, it is largely a Megane RS successor in name only.
Meanwhile, Renault will remain in the hot-hatch market – but with its revitalised sports-car marque Alpine, and with electric power in the form of the Clio RS-sized Renault 5 city car. It is on Renault Australia’s radar.
Paul Gover has been a motoring journalist for more than 40 years, working on newspapers, magazines, websites, radio and television. A qualified general news journalist and sports reporter, his passion for motoring led him to Wheels, Motor, Car Australia, Which Car and Auto Action magazines. He is a champion racing driver as well as a World Car of the Year judge.
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Copyright Drive.com.au 2022
Copyright Drive.com.au 2022
DAP Pricing– Unless otherwise stated, all prices are shown as Manufacturer's Recommended List Price (MRLP) inclusive of GST, exclusive of options and on road costs.