Special Coverage

Auto Show

GENEVA – Renault SA introduces six new cars at the auto show here, led by the new 5-seat Megane Scenic and 7-seat Grand Scenic.

Renault would like its Scenics to dominate Europe’s lower medium-minivan segment in the same way the Volkswagen Golf dominates its segment. To do that, the Renault Scenic III will have to unseat the Citroen C4 Picasso, which is the current leader.

Renault also presents a facelifted Clio that goes on sale in May, Clio Renault Sport with a 203-hp engine and Megane Coupe Renault Sport with a 2.0L turbocharged engine making 250 hp.

In addition, the French auto maker launches its Megane station wagon. The model will offer one new engine, a 1.4L gasoline direct-injection mill with “the torque of a 2.0L, power of a 1.6L and fuel efficiency of a 1.0L” says Jerome Stohl, Renault’s new executive vice president-sales and marketing.

The new Scenic and Grand Scenic go on sale in April and June, respectively.

The Scenic range is important to Renault, which credits the marque making the auto maker what it is today.

Sales of the Scenic were three times higher than Renault planned when it was introduced. Profits from both the Scenic and the Megane, on which it is based, put Renault in position in the 1990s to take control of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

However, the Scenic II stalled a bit in the face of new competition led by the Citroen Xsara Picasso and now the C4 Picasso, both of which are considered by many critics to be better looking.

The Clio, as well as the Scenics, will introduce the TomTom navigation system in Renault’s lineup, costing less than €500 ($629). Clio has never had an integrated navigation system before, and some trim levels of the Scenic will get the system in series.

Later this year, Renault will also have a facelifted Trafic van. Having so many new cars this year will help the auto maker in the face of the global economic crisis, says Stohl, because new products “give people a reason to buy a car.”

Meanwhile, Dacia, Renault’s entry-level brand, debuts an all-wheel-drive concept car here, its first, which is a low-slung cross/utility vehicle roughly based on the Sandero. Measuring 59 ins. (149 cm) high and 167 ins. (425 cm) long, it has a far sportier character than most vehicles in the segment.

The show car is powered by the 1.5L diesel making 77 hp and boasts 44 mpg (5.3 L/100 km) fuel economy.