August 12, 2014
What’s Hot: Beautifully-sorted chassis and handling, impressive turbo engine.
What’s Not: Limited rear legroom; audio-control hidden behind the wheel.
X-FACTOR: Euro styling mated with a classy interior and quality build - plus, it’s a little out of the ordinary.
Vehicle style: Small five-door hatch
Engine/trans: 97kW/205Nm 1.2 litre turbo | 6spd EDC dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption listed: 5.6 l/100km (95RON) | tested: 6.8 l/100km.
The Megane is Renault Australia’s best-selling model. Having spent some time in the latest GT-Line hatch, we can understand the French brand's upbeat expectations for its new Megane hatch and wagon line-up here.
With Renault’s Australian sales up 53 percent year-to-date, the arrival of the new Megane range is sure to add some sales impetus to the French nameplate in this country.
There are no fewer than 17 variants in the revitalised Megane family range. They are all well-priced, generally well-kitted and drive particularly well.
We chose the GT-Line hatch with its impressive new 1.2 litre turbocharged petrol engine for this test.
The engine is mated to a Getrag six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
Quality: While the entry-level 'Authentique' Megane models are pretty bland and uninspiring inside the doors, the same cannot be said for the GT-Line.
The first thing you notice is the quality look to the seats; with contrasting black leather and lighter-grey cloth-inserts, they are every bit as good as they look.
As well as the leather, there is a stylish blend of plastics and tasteful chrome highlights. Surfaces generally are appealing to the touch, and the sense is of a quality, well-built interior.
Comfort: For front-seat passengers, the beautifully crafted and bolstered seats are a stand-out feature. These are among the best you’ll find at the Megane’s price-point.
However, rear-seat comfort is severely hindered by a lack of leg room if the front-seat occupants are tall (and have the seats pushed well back). Headroom is also a little tight there.
That said, the rear sear - at least for the outer two occupants - is pretty comfortable and lightly bolstered for added support.
Equipment: While the entry-level Megane Authentique is a tad skimpy for standard features, the GT-Line comes with something of a smorgasbord.
Stand-out features include automatic dual-zone climate-control, fog lights, hill-start assist, electric mirrors, cruise control, 17-inch alloy wheels, satellite navigation with a seven-inch touch screen, an automatic parking brake, hands-free entry and start, and automatic headlights and wipers.
Also standard are cloth-leather seats, front-and-rear parking sensors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear-shifter knob and a fancier CD/MP3/USB/AUX audio system with both voice and fingertip controls.
Storage: The Megane GT-Line hatch is not exactly class-leading when it comes to storage. While there is a reasonable 372 litres of boot space under the hatch, inside there are some storage shortcomings.
The most glaring is that there is just one cup holder for the whole car… and it’s a tiny affair tucked at the front of the centre console beneath the centre stack.
Another omission is no roof-mounted sunglasses holder - a feature we see in many cars sold in this country today.
There are however pockets on each of the four doors, map pouches behind the front-seat backs, a smallish glovebox and an equally smallish bin beneath the front centre arm rest.
There is also a small but handy under-floor bin in the boot and a small 'secret storage' under the driver's feet.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: Despite its relatively small engine, the new Megane hatch is very much a drivers’ car.
While the ride is sporty and handling is very good, there is enough compliance and suspension travel to be a comfortable day-to-day driver.
The combination of an outstanding seat with plenty of adjustment and a great-to-hold leather-wrapped sports steering wheel (with height-and-reach adjustment) means it is easy to quickly dial in the perfect driving position and start feeling at one with the car.
And while 97kW and 205Nm are nothing to write home to Mum about, the Megane GT-Line feels reasonably lively in normal driving.
It has ample power for joining fast-moving traffic, and will kick-down and get around safely when overtaking.
While the dual-clutch transmission has a manual-shifting mode for the console-mounted shifter, we would prefer to also have found steering-wheel-paddles.
Refinement: Plenty of attention to the Megane’s noise, vibration and harshness qualities has resulted in a pretty refined package.
Wind and road noise levels are perfectly acceptable and it’s only on the coarsest and most pitted roads where the GT-Line’s in-built refinement slips a little.
Despite its somewhat diminutive capacity of just 1.2 litres, engine noise is remarkably subdued unless you are really pushing things with the tacho up near the red line.
Ride and handling: Renault Sport engineers have done a fine job with the GT-Line’s chassis.
As any in good hot hatch - or in the GT-Line’s case, warm hatch - its underpinnings are clearly on the sporty side but free of the harshness that can blight some in this sector.
Turn-in is precise and predictable, it is easy to place the Megane accurately in a corner, and it’s also not easily unsettled on rougher surfaces.
Braking: Stopping power comes courtesy of 280mm x 24mm ventilated discs at the front and 260mm x 18mm solid discs at the rear.
Pedal feel is well-weighted and we experienced no performance loss under test, despite some hard stops.
ANCAP: 5-Stars (curiously, a 3-Star vehicle under EuroNCAP testing)
Safety features: Six airbags, pre-tensioning front seat belts, ABS brakes with emergency-brake-force distribution and brake assist, electronic stability control with anti-skid regulation, traction control and understeer control.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five-years unlimited kilometres and five-years roadside-assist.
Service costs: One-year servicing intervals covered by Renault’s capped-price service program under which the first three services are capped at a value-for-money $299 per service.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
It’s a bullpit, the small hatch segment. There are so many cars to choose from it must do buyers’ heads in.
You can be safe, and fall in with the crowd, and choose the market-leading Corolla, Mazda3 or Hyundai i30. Or maybe a lower-specced Golf TSI.
But the Megane is a little different. It’s good buying and as competent as the better performers in the sector, but it’s also ‘an individual’ and will appeal to buyers who want to stand a little apart.
- Toyota Corolla Ascent CVT - $23,540
- Hyundai i30 Trophy auto - $24,000
- Holden Cruze 1.8 Equipe - $21,690
- VW Golf 1.4 TSI DSG - $23,990
- Mazda 3 Maxx auto - $24,990
- Peugeot 308 Style auto - $27,490
Note: all prices are Manufacturers’ List Price and do not include dealer-delivery and on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
For a car that’s not far off being at the end of its life-cycle, the Megane hatch continues to hold its own in the highly competitive world of small hatches.
While it goes up against the likes of the list above - the Toyota Corolla, Hyundai i30, Holden’s Cruze, VW Golf, Mazda 3 and Peugeot 308 - for pricing, ride and handling, as well as build-quality and cost-of-ownership, the GT-Line hatch is right up there.
With value-for-money pricing for replacement parts, a five-year unlimited kilometre warranty and a low capped-price servicing offer, it’s a car with a lot going for it.
Renault Australia boss Justin Hocevar and his team have high hopes for continuing sales growth of the French brand in Australia.
It’s a bit of a secret, this Megane. But we think this GT-Line Hatch is a good buy; it certainly impresses for its quality interior and on-road handling.
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