Renault Megane GT road test review | Far from ordinary
RENAULT is finally starting to stretch its wings in Australia, a loyal customer base coupled with a growing list of new buyers allowing the brand to gain some much-deserved traction.
Hard work has been done to ensure a usable dealer network and to assure buyers that they are indeed getting value-for-money and will not be plagued by high parts and service costs.
The Megane, such a favourite with Australians, has been expanded to include 17 variants - all well-priced and nicely equipped for a wider appeal. We spent a week in the GT-Line Hatch and were pleasantly surprised.
The designers obviously opted for the less is more adage when considering the interior of the GT-Line Hatch.
It is decidedly subdued yet not in a disadvantageous way and the features that are put on show certainly have a sporty feel.
The console is uncluttered and sensibly set out with chrome ensconced instruments tilted slightly away from the driver. Dials and buttons are delicate sometimes too much so and there are certainly some print including the fuel gauge that would be better if they were slightly bigger.
The bucket-like seats with their ample side bolstering and striking leather and cloth make-up are the star of the show here. They are supportive and comfortable although my husband found them constraining on his broad shoulders.
The sporty steering wheel is well shaped, adjustable for reach and height and complements the driver's seat ensuring it is easy to quickly find a comfortable position.
Room in the rear is pretty tight both at the feet and head, as it often is in small cars, but obviously fine if you are carrying children. On the whole, storage is disappointing with just one cup-holder and that awkwardly placed under the front console.
The door pockets are quite accommodating but the little box under the driver's feet, the small glove box and equally small bin beneath the front armrest can't really hold much.
On the road
Such is its capability that it is difficult to believe the GT-Line Hatch is powered by a small 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine. It is ably paired with a Getrag six-speed dual-clutch auto transmission and packs a punch from low down in the rev range and will have you feeling pretty confident during an enthusiastic drive. The Megane GT-Line stays focussed around corners, copes well with changes of direction and allows you to merge or overtake with little conscious effort.
You have to work a little harder when approaching steep climbs though but once it finds its legs there is little to hold it back. The car obviously benefits from a retuned suspension - stiffer springs, firmer dampers and a lower centre of gravity - but it does not come at the expensive of ride quality and comfort with only the largest of road imperfections making an impact. It brakes well, is easy to manoeuvre and has an excellent turning circle too.
What do you get?
The French are not shy when it comes to inclusions and the GT-Line Hatch is equipped with those satisfying bells and whistles like 17-inch alloys, keyless entry and push-button start, dual-zone climate control, auto headlights and wipers, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, Renault's R-Link touchscreen media system with sat nav, LED daytime running lights, USB and Bluetooth phone and audio and heated electrically folding side mirrors. Safety features include six airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, traction and stability control, hill start assist as well as anti-skid and understeer control.
Manufacturers are falling over themselves to gain traction in this class and main rivals will be the Mazda 3 Maxx (from $24,990), VW Golf 1.4 TSI (from $23,990), Hyundai i30 Trophy (from $24,000), Holden Cruze 1.8 Equipe (from $21,690), Toyota Corolla Ascent (from $23,540) and the Peugeot 308 Style (from $27,490)
While not everyone wants the power of a hot hatch, more than most small-car drivers wouldn't mind a vehicle with a little more go. The GT-Line Hatch is one of those cars - offering a more than ordinary driving experience but also the option of carrying passengers when needed. Paddle shifters would be nice to experience "manual" mode.
Renault says that the 1.2-litre engine and dual-clutch auto transmission has helped bring fuel consumption down to 5.6 litres/100km, more than 2l/100km better than the old 2.0-litre engine.
We found that pretty close to the mark despite a fair number of pedal to the floor exercises. There is a five years unlimited kilometre warranty and capped-price servicing for the first year.
Renault has freshened up the Megane with a new grille, headlights, bumpers and bonnets with an over-sized badge taking pride of place. Little has been done to the rear though, the manufacturer missing a beat in ensuring a truly modern look.
The GT-Line Hatch is sure to find favour amongst drivers that are looking for something aside from the ordinary - a car which delivers a fun involved and comfortable drive with on-trend features and stylish European design. The GT-Line will offer a welcomed boost as Renault expands its horizons here as it attempts to underline its ability as a real competitor.
What matters most
What we liked: Sporty drive, great inclusions, a willing ally
What we'd like to see: Reverse camera, volume controls on steering instead of stalk.
Warranty and servicing: Five-year unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assist.
Model: Renault Megane GT-Line Hatch.
Details: Five-door front-wheel drive small hatch.
Engine: 1.2-litre six-speed EDC dual-clutch turbo petrol generating maximum power of 97kW @ 5500rpm with peak torque of 205Nm @ 2000rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch auto.
Consumption: 5.6 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line plus on-roads: $26,990.