2013 RENAULT MEGANE REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Small performance wagon.
Price: $36,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 162kW/340Nm turbo petrol 4cyl / 6sp manual
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.3 l/100km | tested: 10.2 l/100km
Spoiler alert: I absolutely, unreservedly love the Megane GT 220.
Then again, I’m a sucker for hi-po wagons.
But will Renault's Megane GT 220 resonate with you the way it does with me?
If you're a pragmatic enthusiast - like a parent who needs cargo space but also enjoys a sporting drive - you’ll find more than a few things to like about the slightly oddball Megane GT 220.
Quality: It’s typical Megane here, which unfortunately means a pretty dated design.
Quality in the Spain-sourced Megane wagon is good though. The dash is soft-touch and the plastics generally are not unpleasant.
Renault has jazzed up the GT 220’s cabin with a faux-carbon strip and red accents, and there's also a Renault Sport badge on the passenger side to let you know this isn’t any old Megane wagon.
Comfort: The manually-adjusted part-leather, part-cloth seats strike a good balance between comfort and body-hugging contouring, and the reach/rake adjustable steering column makes it easy to get settled.
The back seat is more spacious than that of a regular Megane hatch thanks to an increase in vehicle wheelbase, and there’s even a decent amount of legroom for the centre passenger.
Likewise, rear headroom is abundant.
It’s not quite as comfortable as the front though, thanks to the flat and firm seat cushions.
Equipment: Standard equipment includes power windows, 18-inch wheels, LED daytime running lamps, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors and Renault’s RS Monitor datalogging computer.
Opt for the $5000 Premium package and you get full leather upholstery, auto-highbeam, bi-xenon headlamps, heated front seats, sat nav, a panoramic sunroof and a lane departure warning.
Storage: There’s a seats-up capacity of 524 litres in the back of the Megane GT 220 - plenty for the average small family, and enough to make the Megane one of the most capacious small wagons around.
The loading lip is impressively low as well, and is flush with the boot floor. A fold-up luggage divider and a pair of bag-hooks help keep small items secure, while folding the rear seats down allows much larger cargo.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Under the bonnet lies the 2.0 litre turbocharged inline four from the Megane RS. Mechanically it’s almost identical, but the tune has been wound down to 162kW from the RS’ impressive 195kW.
It’s still a stout performer. Get past the initial turbo lag and there’s a rush of torque (340Nm of it) from 2500rpm, and it doesn’t let up until the 6200rpm rev cut.
Driven sedately the big wave of torque easily carries the GT 220 to highway cruising speed and beyond, and there’s not a great need to use big revs to get places quickly.
A downside for some will be the unavailability of an automatic transmission. The default six-speed manual though is easy to use, there's a slick action to the shifter and ratios are well-matched to the torque charactersitics of the muscular turbo up front.
Refinement: Low-profile performance rubber and stiff suspension bushings and engine mounts mean the GT 220 can be noisy inside, but perhaps no more so than the average hot hatch.
Road noise may be an issue if you plan to use the GT 220 as a child-carrier, as tyre roar does becomes intrusive on coarse-chip roads.
Ride and Handling: Like the Megane RS265, the GT 220 channels all of its power to the front wheels. However unlike the RS265, the GT 220 lacks both a limited-slip differential and the RS’s sophisticated front suspension.
That means there’s torque-steer aplenty and lots of inner wheelspin when tramping the throttle in a tight turn.
The suspension is also very, very firm. It’s not quite as kidney-flattening as the Megane RS265, but it does lack the right amount of compliance to deal with juddery suburban roads.
But get it on the right kind of road, and it’s delightful. There’s loads of cornering grip from the 225-section Dunlop SP Sport Maxx rubber, and the longer wheelbase gives the GT 220 a more balanced feel than the full-blown RS.
The steering isn’t quite as incisive as the RS though and there are those torque steer and traction issues to contend with, but, for a sporting wagon, the Megane GT 220 provides plenty of thrills.
Braking: Compared to the big Brembos of the Megane RS265, the GT 220’s sliding-caliper stoppers seem a little underwhelming.
The extra weight of the wagon body also blunts braking performance, but for us it was the slack in the brake pedal itself that was most off-putting.
There’s just a bit too much play down there, and, in our tester, the pedal would clunk when we lifted our foot off quickly.
ANCAP rating: The Megan wagon has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety features: Stability control (switchable), traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, six airbags (front, front side, full-length curtain), ISOFIX hardpoints for outer rear seats.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years, unlimited kilometres.
Service costs: The first three services are capped at $299, with service intervals set for every 12 months or 10,000km.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
Skoda Octavia RS 147TSI wagon ($39,990 ) - Though technically a segment above the Megane wagon, Skoda’s Octavia RS is comparable in size and price to the Megane GT 220.
It’s a capable car in corners, but with 147kW and 280Nm its engine performance is eclipsed by the brawnier Megane. Interior ambience lacks the flasher sporting feel of the Megane. (see Octavia reviews)
Holden Commodore SV6 Sportwagon ($40,190) - The SV6 Commodore Sportwagon is over $3k more expensive than the Megane (and a good deal larger), but when you consider that price includes an automatic transmission you’re definitely getting more metal for your money.
The VF Commodore is also a delight to drive, with one of the best electric steering setups we’ve encountered and great rear-drive dynamics. Being a large wagon, you can also pack a heap of people, gear, or both into the SV6.
It may not be as light on its feet as the nippy GT 220, but the SV6 is arguably the more well-rounded package. (see Commodore reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
If you’re like me, you’ll overlook the Megane GT 220’s small failings (manual only, firm ride, traction, torque steer) because the rest of the package is so capable and so appealing.
It’s the ideal daily driver for a car enthusiast with a young family, or anyone with stuff to carry.
At $36,990 it’s also a very enticing alternative to the current crop of circa-$40k hot hatches, but, like most of those smaller hot boxes, you'll need to prepare yourself for a firm sporting ride.
That aside, the Megane GT 220 Sport Wagon is flexible enough to be both practical and enjoyable, and - for me anyway - it’s that breadth of ability that makes it so appealing.
There’s a catch though. Renault Australia is only bringing 220 of these to our shores, so snap one up while you still can.
Pricing (excludes on-roads)
- Mégane GT 220 Sport Wagon - $36,990
- Mégane GT 220 Sport Wagon Premium Pack - $41,990