Advance apologies to the Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France and their eagle-eyed cohorts regarding the title header.
Earlier in the year I spoke at some length about Renault’s Mégane Grand Coupé offering, a car which is not only unavailable in drear old Blighty, but also (somewhat surprisingly) within Renault’s homeland. Introduced to the Irish market earlier this year, the Mégane sedan (sorry, but it’s neither grand nor a coupe) appears to have taken off here, with my highly unscientific visual survey suggesting that it comfortably outsells the hatchback version.
Which is altogether rather good going, given that c-segment saloons have been taking a hit in Ireland owing to the inexorable rise of the compact crossover. Its progress has been aided by its appearance, which lighting treatments aside, is mature, well proportioned and undeniably handsome. It’s quite a sizeable car in the flesh too. Certainly, from appearances, one would find it difficult to justify the larger Talisman model, were such a vehicle made available.
But not only is the Mégane doing well, Renault itself is on something of a roll in the Irish Republic, with car sales in the year to September that are within touching distance of matching those for the entire year in 2016. So far during 2017, Renault holds 7th position in the Republic with a market share of 6.4%, up from 5.7% at the end of last year. To put that into perspective, Skoda are only marginally ahead over the same time period at 6.8%, but Renault have comfortably outsold Opel and Peugeot, with the German marque on 4.9% in 8th place and the Lion of Belfort at a paltry 2.9%, well down in 12th place.
These are impressive figures in a market which has virtually stalled in the second half of the year in the wake of Sterling’s dramatic fall in value against the Euro. Renault have made significant inroads in the Irish market over the past five years or so, aided by a revitalised range of cars and it’s believed, one of the most aggressive incentive packages within the ROI industry. Clios, Capturs and Méganes massively outsell their French industry rivals here and have lately been giving the market leaders something to think about as well. Even in light commercials, Renault command 13.4% of the Irish market.
The Mégane saloon on these pages, sporting a Co. Offaly registration number and photographed one overcast afternoon in the West Cork coastal town of Kinsale, was notable for its unusual rich mocha hue, which in the diffused afternoon light both highlighted and obscured the car’s lines. Recent familiarity has not softened the chintzy lighting arrangements, nor minimised the plethora of character lines and decorative flourishes, but overall, it’s a dignified enough looking device.
The Irish car buying public’s affair with the three-volume c-segment saloon isn’t quite sated then, despite there being a third party in the bedroom of late. So while crossovers might be bagging more of the duvet, I wouldn’t necessarily write off the saloon just yet. Not this one at least.
17 thoughts on “Mégane à Trois Volumes”
I’ve admired this model before on a fleeting trip to Dublin. These ‘compact’ saloons (they aren’t, actually a Eoin points out) are a favourite of mine, as everyone is bored of reading by now. I like the metallic brown colour too (it doesn’t sound so nice when put like that). Renault’s range is definitely improving, albeit, quite slowly and the Clio is starting to look a little left behind in a class of spangly new metal. I especially lament the lack of Espace in the UK.
I still can’t quite make out what that title is meant to say. Is there a pun I’m missing?
Makes sense now with correct spelling. You guys really need a sub editor.
I knew you wouldn’t fail me…
I hate to disappoint.
I don’t understand why Renault makes this car in RHD but does not offer it in the UK. Is it big in Singapore or Australia?
They don’t even sell it in France from what I can see on their website.
The short answer to why this isn’t offered in Blighty is that nobody would buy it. ‘Compact’ saloons of this ilk are forecourt poison in the UK for some reason. As to why the French market is denied is probably explained by the presence of the Talisman, which isn’t a whole lot bigger, I’d expect. The Megane is about as large as anyone would reasonably want or need, so I’d imagine it would steal a lot of sales (and profit) from the Renault mothership.
I’m surprised they took the trouble to market it here to be honest, but from the numbers I see, their decision appears to be vindicated. In fact, taken as a whole, I’ve seen more Megane’s of all stripes in just under a month in Ireland than I’ve seen over half a year of time spent in Britain this year.
Small to medium saloons aren’t too popular in France either, or at least they haven’t been since the 1980’s.
A quick scan of Renault’s international web sites showes that the ‘Gran Coupé’ (seems that coupés need four doors nowadays) is not offered in France or Spain.
You can get it in Portugal, Greece, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland.
These are countries that either bought cars like the booted Corsas or VW Derbys or have a tradition of Dacias being sold there.
Which makes me think of this Gran Coupé as the spiritual successor to the good old Renault/Dacia R12. Which in turn might answer the question why it is not offered in France or Britain.
I recall reading that, relatively early on in its sales cycles, the 4 door version of the current Mazda3 had surprised it’s UK concessionary by comprising over 10% of UK sales. It doesn’t sound that much to me, but obviously they feared worse. I guess the point is that the 3 is engineered for a RHD market in the first place, so why not offer it in other such markets. It’s arguably even more odd that Renault has engineered a RHD Mégane saloon and then decided not to sell it in one of the largest RHD markets.
“The short answer to why this isn’t offered in Blighty is that nobody would buy it. ‘Compact’ saloons of this ilk are forecourt poison in the UK for some reason.”
What did all the people who bought Ford Orions go on to buy? Does a 3-series/C-Class adorn their drive by this point?
Yes, quite likely. Or a Golf, or a Focus.
Perhaps I should have been a bit more specific. I’ll try again: ‘Compact’ front-wheel drive saloons of this ilk from so-called non-premium manufacturers are forecourt poison in the UK. Only that won’t necessarily hold either. Take the Audi A3 Saloon. By far the nicest of the A3 bodystyles and arguably the classiest, neatest, best-designed car Audi currently makes and yet it sells in tiny numbers in Britain. Does better here, outselling the hatch by some margin, yet still a comparatively rare sight. It’s puzzling and the only reason I can rationalise is price point/finance numbers/snobbery. Take your pick.
With the current A3 hatchbacks Audi again could not be bothered to offer style and practicality at the same time.
The Sportsback again is not a proper estate car and –at least to my eyes- is just plain ugly. If you can’t stand the Sportsback’s looks and nevertheless want four doors in an A3 you look at the saloon. That’S before you open that car’s bootlid and find an opening barely bigger than a letterbox slit.
Even getting a crate of mineral water through this ridiculously small opening would be difficult, not to mention hard case luggage (let alone Ikea boxes). The foldable rear seat therefore is no more than a sick joke because you won’t be able to get any objects through the boot opening that are large enough to require a folded rear seat.
The message clearly is that if you need the space you better get a Golf Variant or a Skoda Octavia Combi and if you want an Audi, you should buy an A4 Avant.
So what does that make the A3 saloon, exactly? Evidently people aren’t deterred by the boot volume or aperture dimensions. Would it be akin to the 1983 E-30 3-er which was a pretty small car with not a lot of room. I might hazard that the impractical nature of the A3 saloon is a selling point especially now the A4 is so big (are they less popular now?)
There seems to be a market segment for cars that are deliberately less roomy and less practical. BMW was very successful in this market with the 02 up to the E36 and currently serves it with the two door 1-series saloon. Alfa’s 156 targeted the same customers and seemingly Audi sees a niche for itself with the A3 saloon, too.