July 24, 2014
What’s Hot: Scorching performance for the money, five-door hatch versatility.
What’s Not: No automatic on offer, interior getting old.
X-FACTOR: As hot as a Golf GTI, it's a warm hatch only because the mental Megane RS 265 is even hotter.
Vehicle Style: Small performance hatch and wagon
Price: $35,490 (GT220 hatch) to $40,990 (GT220 Wagon Premium)
Engine/trans: 162kW/340Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl | 6sp manual
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.3 l/100km
Introduced last year as a limited-edition model and only available as a wagon, Renault Australia has now made the GT220 a permanent fixture of its Megane line up.
It has now doubled buyer-choice by adding a five-door hatch.
Powered by a detuned version of the heavy-hitting Megane RS265’s 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder, the GT220 range kicks off from just $35,490.
Considering the performance it offers, it’s a proper bargain.
The Volkswagen Golf GTI puts out the same power and slightly more torque, but retails for $6500 more. If price is important to you (as it is for the vast majority of car buyers), it’s an easy choice.
But because of its price tag and sub-RS position in the Megane hierarchy, some may make the mistake of thinking the GT220 is merely another ‘warm’ hatch. We can assure you, it’s anything but.
- GT220: Dual-zone climate control, cruise control, speed limiter, keyless entry and ignition, sports seats, Bluetooth phone/audio, RS Monitor 1.0, leather steering wheel and shift knob, reverse parking sensors.
- GT220 Premium (in addition to above): RS monitor 2.0, front parking sensors, reversing camera, lane departure warning, auto high-beam, glass sunroof
- Boot capacity: GT220 hatch, 372 litres with seats up. GT220 wagon, 524 litres with seats up, 1600 litres with seats down.
The interior melds the familiar features and greater versatility of the Megane five-door hatch with a few of the hotter-blooded Megane RS’ sportier features.
The well-bolstered cloth seats are comfortable and supportive, but we’re not so sure about the visual appeal of the two-tone leather in the GT220 Premium.
As with the regular Megane, the GT220 could do with a touch more steering-column adjustment, but otherwise it’s a comfortable cockpit to be in - as long as you’re okay with just one cupholder in the entire cabin.
The GT220-specific dashboard trim and red contrast stitching (grey on the Premium) add a nice visual touch, as does the “Renault Sport” script on the dash.
The inclusion of Renault’s RS Monitor performance datalogging software is great to nerd-out over, and records everything from laptimes, to peak G-force, steering angle, power torque and even brake-line pressure in the Premium.
The standard GT220 only gets the more simplified first-generation version of the RS Monitor; but other features like Bluetooth phone/media streaming, keyless entry/ignition, dual-zone climate control are all standard on all GT220s.
A 7-inch touchscreen infotainment display is optional for the base GT220 and standard on the premium, but is mounted high on the dash and is just a little too far out of reach for the driver.
ON THE ROAD
- 162kW/340Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl
- Six-speed manual, front wheel drive
- 18-inch alloys, disc brakes all around.
- GT220-specific suspension settings.
With 162kW of power and 340Nm of torque, the GT220’s 2.0 litre turbo four-pot delivers great thrust from down low, and with minimal turbo lag.
The 6500rpm rev-cut arrives all too quickly though. You can't help but think that this is an engine that’s had its wick deliberately wound down.
Its zero to 100km/h sprint time of 7.6 seconds reflects this - fast, but not as fast as the mechanically similar but considerably hotter RS265.
While some buyers will be disappointed that there's no automatic transmission, the six-speed manual has a great shifter action and ratios that make the most of the GT220’s midrange torque.
Third gear covers most situations, and the engine is happy to lope along in high gears if you prefer a more relaxed driving style.
The clutch can take some getting used to though.
A narrow friction-point and heavy engagement require some finesse to deal with (we stalled it moments after getting into the driver’s seat). The co-driver chuckled - until he did the same thing when he got behind the wheel.
Besides power output and gearing, the absence of a mechanical LSD in the GT220 is the main powertrain and drivertrain difference between the GT220 and Megane RS265.
While it's there to limit wheelspin in the RS, few will miss it in the GT220. The aggression required to get the GT220 into a situation where an LSD becomes useful is not something we'd recommend for daily driving, and there’s ample traction from the Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tyres.
And that brings us to the suspension.
It is, in a word, superb. The springs and dampers are definitely firm, but it’s not jiggly over rough roads and we found it to be more comfortable than the Megane GT-Line suspension.
Grip is also stupendous in the dry.
Like other Megane variants, the GT220 is blessed with a neutral chassis that can be coaxed into a tail-out slide with some persuasion, but the level of grip from its Dunlops means you’ll rarely overstep that boundary.
Turn the steering wheel, and the Megane GT220 will go there. Instantly. It’s not quite as telepathically-direct as the Megane RS’s wheel, but Renault Sport’s athletic DNA is still very much present in the GT220’s steering.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 35.83 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain), ISOFIX child seat anchorages, pretensioning front seatbelts.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Volkswagen Golf GTI is the closest rival for power and torque, and definitely a rival as far as handling is concerned.
Ford’s Focus ST brings more power to the party (a sizable 184kW), but there are also less-obvious competitors around a similar price point, like Subaru’s WRX and the Skoda Octavia RS.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The wider availability of the GT220 model is bound to be a winner for Renault.
Hot hatches are, well, hot right now, and having a very quick five-door in showrooms for a little over $35k will likely add a good number of sales to Renault Australia’s ledger.
It’s a hell of a lot of "go" for not much dough, and for Renault Sport fans who can’t stretch the budget to an RS 265 or need something with four doors and a little more space than a Clio (or a lot more space in the case of the wagon), the Megane GT220 should scratch that itch.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- Authentique TCe 130 MT - $20,990
- Authentique TCe 130 EDC - $23,490
- Authentique dCi 110 EDC - $25,990
- GT-Line TCe 130 EDC - $26,990
- GT-Line dCi 110 EDC - $29,490
- GT-Line Premium Pack TCe 130 EDC - $30,990
- GT-Line Premium Pack dCi 110 EDC - $33,490
- Dynamique TCe 130 EDC - $26,990
- GT-Line TCe 130 EDC - $28,490
- Dynamique dCi 110 EDC - $29,490
- GT-Line dCi 110 EDC - $31,490
- GT-Line Premium Pack TCe 130 EDC - $32,490
- GT-Line Premium Pack dCi 110 EDC - $35,490
GT220 Hatch and Sport Wagon
- GT220 Hatch - $35,490
- GT220 Sport Wagon - $36,990
- GT220 Hatch Premium Pack - $39,490
- GT220 Sport Wagon Premium Pack - $40,990