Renault was expected to have a tough time in 2003 with what was viewed as an ageing model line-up. The company’s new Megane is changing that view, as it becomes the biggest-selling car in Europe, finally usurping Volkswagen‘s Golf.

Despite a slow start, Renault’s new Megane is finally having the kind of impact expected of it, as the French firm’s lower-medium offering became Europe’s biggest-selling car in the first half of 2003, overtaking Volkswagen’s evergreen Golf, and Peugeot‘s 206 supermini.

Renault sales increased by almost 13% in June, compared to the previous month. This was a much needed boost for the firm, after it was heavily affected by a 7.8% decline in its domestic market. The company had a 10.7% share of the passenger car market in Western Europe for the first-half of 2003.

Industry analysts had predicted a tough year for Renault due to what is seen as an ageing model line-up, and controversial styling of some of its products. Certainly the Avantime and Vel Satis models failed to take the market by storm.

The arrival of the Megane, however, is beginning to revive the company’s fortunes, and this trend is likely to continue when the Megane scenic comes into full circulation. The Scenic was the first “mini-MPV”, and represented a significant proportion of the Megane’s overall sales – the new model is likely to follow this trend. With Ford and Volkswagen both entering this segment, the competition will be stiffer, however.

Renault also hopes to compete more effectively with its rivals with the introduction of the Cabriolet and Turbo versions. Citroen’s C3 Pluriel is the latest addition to the cabriolet market, which along with Ford’s smaller StreetKa and the new Mini Cabriolet will be vying for buyers’ attention.

Overall, the outlook for the company appears to have picked up significantly. The company’s share price has risen by more than 30% in the last two months, and successes at its partner Nissan are certainly helping the firm’s position.

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