THE head of Renault Sport says the time is right for a mainstream performance SUV, but the question is whether one can be made economically while still staying true to the brand’s values of high performance and driver satisfaction.
“There’s a market for that,” said Patrice Ratti when asked about the potential for a Renault Sport-fettled SUV.
While luxury automakers are rolling out an ever-increasing number of high powered SUVs and crossovers, like the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63and Audi SQ5, fatter profit margins at the premium end of the market mean the business case is easier to justify.
It’s a different story at the lower and medium ranges of the price scale, where the Captur and Koleos sit. What’s more, Renault Sport isn’t interested in the approach adopted by corporate cousin Nismo, which has released a number of Nismo-badged SUV models - like the X-Trail Nismo and Juke Nismo - that were little more than styling packages applied over lightly warmed-over mechanicals.
So far, Renault Sport has yet to make a solid business case for a truly hot Renault SUV.
“If we’re able to find a way to do it at Renault Sport prices then there’s probably a market for that,” Ratti continued.
“But it’s not an easy thing to do because if we do it, it has to be ‘Renault Sport’, so it’ll need to have good handling and enough power.”
But would it harm the brand?
“Look at what happened with Porsche,” he said, “most of their sales now are of Cayenne and Macan, so I don’t think SUVs damaged them - but they did a good product.
“So if we’re not able to do a good product at the right price then we won’t do it. So nothing decided, but we’re looking at many things.”