by Brad Leach - 22/07/13
Renault takes the fight right up to Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Opel Astra with a new Megane lineup which debuts wagon models including a high-performance turbocharged GT 220 which shares its chassis with the rip-snorting Megane RS.
And the extra good news is sharper prices – the new Renault Megane bringing French flair and style from just $20,990.
Megane is Renault’s best-selling model and is sold in more than 110 markets worldwide. If you’re shopping a European hatchback or wagon, the Megane simply must be on your list – it’s good, very good in fact.
As well as the new looks, extra features, addition of the wagon models and sharper prices, Renault has adjusted the Megane lineup with entry-levels now called ‘Expression’, upscale is still ‘Privilege’ (for the hatchback) and ‘Dynamique’ (for the wagon) and, we reckon the pick of the bunch - a new ‘GT-Line’.
‘GT-Line’ is more than cosmetic as its extras include a sporty chassis set-up from the RS 265 (firmer springs/dampers, lower ride height) as well as sports seats, a unique dashboard, LED DRLs, leather-wrapped Renault Sport steering wheel, fog-lights, satellite navigation and 17-inch alloy wheels.
‘Privilege’ adds 17-inch ‘Sari’ alloy wheels, charcoal-coloured leather seats (heated fronts) rear-view camera and lots more as well.
The stylish Renault Megane Coupe-Cabriolet gets an expanded range and is available in standard form at $36,990 – that’s great value for the folding hardtop two-door which now matches the sticker price of rival soft-tops.
And the same price buys entry into the show-stopper the ripping Megane GT 220 Sport Wagon.
Definitely worth the extra is the ‘Premium Pack’. For the GT-Line this adds ‘Cool Grey’ leather upholstery, Renault’s ‘Visio’ System (which includes auto high beam and lane departure warning), a rear-view camera, sunroof, heated front seats and front parking sensors) and Bi-Xenon headlights (the latter only in the GT 200 Sport Wagon).
The full range is:
Expression (petrol manual) $20,990
Expression (petrol CVT) $22,990
GT-Line (petrol CVT) $26,490
GT-Line (diesel EDC) $28,990
Privilege (petrol CVT) $29,990
GT-Line Premium Pack (petrol CVT) $29,990
Privilege (diesel EDC) $32,490
GT-Line Premium Pack (diesel EDC) $32,490
Dynamique (petrol CVT) $26,490
GT-Line (petrol CVT) $27,990
GT-Line (diesel EDC) $30,490
GT-Line Premium Pack (petrol CVT) $31,490
GT-Line Premium Pack (diesel EDC) $33,990
GT 220 Sport Wagon
GT220 Sport Wagon $36,990
GT 220 Sport Wagon Premium Pack $41,990
Coupe-Cabriolet (petrol CVT) $36,990
Coupe-Cabriolet GT-Line (petrol CVT) $41,990
Coupe-Cabriolet Privilege (petrol CVT) $43,990
No changes to the engine lineup. Petrol power comes from Renault’s naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre with 103kW/195Nm and fuel consumption of 7.9l/100kms. Drive is via a six-speed manual transmission or CVT automatic.
Diesel sees the 1.5-litre turbo-diesel with 81kW/240Nm and fuel consumption of 4.7l/100kms. Renault Megane diesel drives via a six-speed twin-clutch Getrag automatic transmission.
Coupe-Cabriolet versions exclusively employ the 2.0-litre petrol/CVT combo
Of course the big news is the Megane GT 220 Sport Wagon which runs the same turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine as the brilliant Megane RS265 hot hatch. ‘265’ stand for 265 horsepower but – as the name suggests – for the Sport Wagon, this dynamic powerplant is detuned to 220 horsepower (162kW). Peak torque is 340Nm from 2400rpm and fuel consumption is rated at 7.3l/100kms (combined cycle).
The Renault Megane GT 220 Sport Wagon is exclusively six-speed manual.
We’ve always rated the Renault Megane interior and pleasingly changes for the updated range have been minimal. We like the distinctive sloping gauges in their curved binnacle and the nicely-trimmed dashboard still looks stylish.
Addition of height adjustment for the drivers’ seat is appreciated (combines with rake/reach adjustment for the steering wheel for a handy driving position for all sizes) as is the improved operation of the audio and satellite navigation.
GT-Line extras are impressive – sports seats, leather-wrapped Renault Sport steering wheel and satellite navigation.
The GT 200 Sport Wagon really cuts a swathe through the European wagon scene with a stunning carbon-fibre look dashboard, red highlights, RS monitor and Renault Sport seats.
Luggage space in the Renault Megane hatchback is 372-litres (rear seat in-place). The wagon is impressive with 524-litres (rear seat in-place) or 1600-litres with the rear seats folded and front passenger seat also folded flat (in which case you can transport items up to 2.55-metres in length).
Similarly, not much has changed outside – a revised front-end featuring a new front bumper, revised grille with gloss black and chrome highlights, available halogen DRLs and new-design alloy wheels.
GT-Line adds Renault Sport extras including a unique front bumper, honeycomb grille, LED DRLs and 17-inch alloy wheels.
The looks of the Renault Megane GT 200 Sport wagon with its 18-inch gloss black alloy wheels and gloss black rear diffuser is stunning.
The Gold Coast hinterland roads up to Mount Tamborine and back are some of the best drivers’ roads in Australia and certainly showed the prowess of the Renault Megane’s chassis. The prolonged rains haven’t been kind however and many sections of bitumen were broken and under repair.
Notwithstanding we did enough in our day behind the wheel of various models to confirm the latest Megane ranks amongst the best of the European hatchbacks and wagons.
Our favourite was the GT-Line diesel – the extra torque (240Nm) and excellent Getrag six-speed auto made for a great combo through those twists and curves. Renault’s 1.5-litre turbo-diesel is one of the most refined at all speeds and the extra rubber of the 17-inch wheels had us well-planted.
The 2.0-litre petrol engine is handy too and the CVT automatic is one of the best, responding nicely in both full automatic or when swapping cogs manually.
But star billing goes to the Renault Megane GT 220 Sport Wagon – in fact we’d say this is the best of the comparable high-performance European wagons we’ve driven. It even looks fast just standing still!
Sure the RS265-based chassis is firm but the ride never got jittery even over those roads of dubious surface quality. And the response of the turbocharged four-cylinder whipping through the six-speed manual transmission was mesmerizing to say the least.
Those rain-effected Gold Coast roads presented lots of broken bitumen and rough surfaces which resulted in some noticeable tyre noise (particularly in the GT 220 with its 18-inch wheels and 225/40 R18 tyres).
Renault Megane Verdict
Wow! Renault has all guns blazing with the expanded and updated Megane range. The GT 220 Sport Wagon is a ‘must-have’ hot Euro wagon and the $20,990 starting point for the ‘Expression’ hatch makes it enticing buying.
We like the driving dynamics – still European firm and precise but just a tad suppler than the Volkswagen Golf – and we like the classy interiors in all models. And if you can stretch the dollars, the ‘Premium Pack’ brings very handy extras.
Our picks would be the GT-Line diesel hatchback ($28,990 hatchback or $30,490 wagon).
Ford’s German-origin Focus is excellent, priced from $20,290, diesel or petrol but no wagon. Focus scores points for its classy European design and top-shelf driving dynamics.
Opel Astra offers a broad range, including the sporty GTC and OPC variants plus the Sports Tourer but you’ll need $23,990 for the entry-grade hatchback. German quality is a standout.
Rival French brand Peugeot has the new 308 well-equipped and its European style is not be overlooked. Diesel or petrol, hatchback or wagon and priced from $22,990, the 308 is a contender for sure but doesn’t match the Renault Megane or Ford Focus for driving dynamics.
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