Renault Samsung Motors (RSM) CEO Francois Provost speaks during a launch event for the QM3 crossover utility vehicle at the Platoon Kunsthalle in Seoul, on Dec. 6. / Courtesy of RSM
When the new model of QM3, known as Captur in Europe, was introduced at the Busan International Motor Show in 2012, it "captured" Koreans' attention with its iconic design.
Renault Samsung Motors CEO Francois Provost grasped Korean consumers' need for the crossover utility vehicle. With confidence that the car can make a hit in the Korean market, he persuaded Renault Group to launch the new QM3 here for the first time in Asia.
And Provost was right: When the company started to receive pre-orders for the imported compact sports utility vehicle (SUV) on Nov. 20, the 1,000 cars allocated to Korea were sold out in seven minutes.
There are many reasons for the explosive demand, including affordable prices that are lower than those in Europe, high fuel economy, and an interior focusing on practical use and safety.
The prices of the QM3 here start from 22.5 million won, which is even lower than the 30 million won, or 21,100 euros, set in Europe. Although tariff and shipping expenses are added, the company set the low prices to target the compact diesel car market.
For between 22.5 million won and 24.5 million won, customers can choose one color or a dual-tone roof and body option.
The QM3 also satisfies a growing demand for highly fuel-efficient, small-sized diesel cars. Its 1.5-liter diesel engine's efficiency stands at 18.5 kilometers per liter, the highest in its segment. "The high efficiency will attract young customers who are considering buying imported diesel SUVs for fuel economy reasons," a company official said.
The interior is innovative. It has a large-sized glove compartment. Its rear seats slide to provide more loading capacity, with the size of the trunk being enlarged from 377 liters to 455 liters.
The seat covers can be taken off easily with zippers so customers can wash them easily or change them with different colored ones. The company holds a patent for the seat.
In after-sales service, Renault Samsung set the prices of parts for the QM3 at about 85 percent of those for the QM5, lowering repair costs. "High repair charges are the most unsatisfactory factor for imported car owners. But QM3 owners can have their cars repaired at a reasonable price," the official said.
The vehicle also obtained top grades in safety on the European New Car Assessment Program.