While Australia’s small car market may be dominated by hatchback sales, wagons and sedan still contribute significant numbers, despite numerous manufacturers bypassing at least one, if not both, of the alternate body-styles.
Renault has taken its time, but although months have elapsed since the Megane hatch range went on sale, the supporting sedan and wagon have finally arrived, creating a range with something for everyone.
While small wagons are still rare the Megane joins the recently refreshed Golf as the only small load-luggers for the moment, unless you count the wagon-ish Skoda rapid, with Holden set to add an Astra wagon to its range soon. Sedans are far more common, with most, but not all competitors playing the four-door game.
Vehicle Style: Small sedan and wagon
Price: $27,490 - $39,490 plus on-road costs, $29,990 - $42,490 driveaway (limited offer)
Engine/trans: 97kW/205Nm 1.2-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 151kW/280Nm 1.6-litre 4cyl turbo petrol | 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 6.0-6.2 l/100km
Both sedan and wagon bypass the entry-level Life specification available on the Megane hatch instead starting one step up with the Zen grade, from there theo two ranges split with the wagon available in GT-Line and GT trims, and the upmarket sedan sold under the Intens label.
Zen and GT-Line models are powered by a 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, while the GT wagon gets a sportier step-up thanks to a more powerful 1.6-litre turbo engine and the same 4Control four wheel steering system from the GT hatch.
Without a proper base model the Megane wagon and sedan can’t compete with the cheapest Japanese and Korean small cars, but as an introductory offer Renault will launch the sedan from $29,990 driveaway, and the wagon from $30,490 driveaway.
Renault understands the less adventurous sedan is an ideal fit for older buyers that might be downsizing, while wagon’s more youthful appeal, not to mention it’s sporty GT model, and larger cargo bay are aimed at active young families.
- Zen: Cloth trim, climate control, automatic lights and wipers, cruise control with speed limiter, keyless entry and start, 16-inch alloy wheels
- GT-Line: Alcantara trim, heated front sports seats, electric sunroof, auto-dimming rear view mirror, 7.0-inch TFT instrument cluster, 17-inch alloy wheels
- GT: Black and blue alcantara interior, alloy pedals, 18-inch alloy wheels
- Intens: Leather trim, Nappa leather steering wheel, LED headlights, electric sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 7.0-inch touchscreen (Zen) or 8.7-inch touchscreen (GT-Line, GT, Intens), Aux and USB inputs, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, eight-speaker audio
- Cargo Volume: 503 litres (sedan) 580 litres to back seats, 1504 litres to front seats (wagon)
Both new Megane additions offer more interior space compared to the five-door hatch owing to a wheelbase that’s 43mm longer, which allows extra rear legroom and comes as a welcome step-up over the hatch.
From the driver’ seat there’s nothing dramatically different about the interior layout of either the wagon or sedan. The megane’s interior style is conservative, but crucially well-finished and fitted with more than a hint of Volkswagen influence visible in some areas.
Standard equipment for the Zen includes keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, auto lights and wipers, cloth interior trim, 7.0-inch infotainment, 16-inch alloy wheels, front and rear park sensors, and cruise control with speed limiter.
The GT-Line wagon adds a more sporty styling kit, 17-inch alloy wheels, grey mirror caps, side parking sensors and self-parking capabilities, a rear seat armrest, alcantara upholstery, rear privacy glass and a larger 8.7-inch infotainment screen.
On top of its performance upgrades the GT wagon also scores alloy pedals, blue trim highlights, and 18-inch alloys while the Intens sedan sticks with a 1.2-litre engine but adds the larger infotainment, leather seat trim, a sunroof, rear privacy glass, Nappa leather steering wheel and 18-inch wheels.
Cargo space for both models is up on the hatch’s 430 litres, with the sedan able to carry 503 litres and the wagon rated at 580 litres before folding the rear seats.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 97kW/205Nm 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol, 151kW/280Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
- Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, front wheel drive
- Suspension: MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear
- Brakes: Ventilated front, solid rear discs
- Steering: Electric power steering, 11.3-11.4m turning circle (10.4m GT)
Buyers of the Zen, GT-Line, and Intens will find a 97kW/205Nm 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the bonnet, which although not the most powerful amongst the Megane’s competitors, is still one of the torquiest non-performance engines of the small car class.
As a result the engine packs a decent mid-range response, helped out by the responsive nature of Renault’s Efficient Dual Clutch (or EDC) automatic.
Zen specification also goes without Renault's Multi-Sense driver mode control, which is added to other models and does a fine job of adjusting throttle and transmission response in Sport mode, making for a more intuitive drive.
Engine noise and vibration from the 1.2-litre engine beats the refinement of cars like the Corolla and i30’s base engine. Sedan models claim 6.1 l/100km fuel consumption, while the wagon quotes a 6.2 l/100km figure.
Drivers who desire a more exciting drive, but aren’t prepared to go without the cargo capacity of the Megane wagon will delight in the 1.6-litre engine of the GT wagon, closely related to the engine that powers the smaller Clio RS range.
With 151kW and 280Nm it’s not quite up to hot hatch standards, but straddles the gap between the more pedestrian models and red-hot performance cars.
Renault also bolsters the GT’s appeal with suspension and steering tuned by Renault Sport, 4Control four wheel steering, steering column mounted paddle shifters, launch control and multi-downshift capability for the seven-speed EDC auto.
The GT and Intens both also roll on 18-inch wheels, which takes away some of the ride comfort of lesser models and their smaller wheel packages, less of a problem in the sporty GT but more obviously out of place in the plus Intens.
Concentrating on the GT, the 4Control steering system allows the rear wheels to turn slightly, opposite to the fronts for tighter turns at low speed and in the same direction as the front wheels at higher speeds for a more planted feel.
The result is pin-sharp handling free from nervousness, that enhances the regular Megane’s already impressive agility, and combined with the sportier suspension tune makes the Megane GT feel right at home on twisty roads with a settled ride and sublimely accurate cornering.
ANCAP Rating: The Renault Megane range has yet to be tested by ANCAP.
Safety Features: All Megane models feature six airbags, electronic traction and stability control, ABS brakes with brake assist and electronic brakeforce distribution, front and rear park sensors, reversing camera, tyre pressure monitoring, and rear ISOFIX child seat mounts.
Zen models can be optioned with autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning, and auto high beam for $700, with GT-Line, Intens and GT receiving the added safety features as standard, plus side park sensors, self-parking, distance warning, and adaptive cruise control, plus blind spot warning for the GT-Line only.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Five years, unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Renault offers a capped price servicing schedule with services set every 12 months or 30,000km (whichever occurs first) prices at $299 per service. Your Renault dealer can explain full terms and conditions of the program.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The likeable Megane hatch range has effortlessly transitioned into sedan and wagon forms - there’s a level of sophistication across the entire range that could only come from a European manufacturer, inviting comparisons with the class-benchmark Volkswagen Golf.
Renault is spot-on when they suggest the sedan, particularly in upmarket Intens trim, will appeal to more discerning mature buyers, yet at the same time the dynamic appeal and sporty nature of the GT wagon should help keep average buyer age down, whilst also luring family buyers out of on-trend SUVs.
Unfortunately the price of entry isn’t as low as some competitors, and the lack of a price-leader as a showroom lure could dent sales, Renault is taking a near-premium risk with these Megane variants instead of going for mass appeal.
By the same measure the lack of standard safety kit for the price is also disappointing - Not all small cars come with tech like autonomous braking but plenty do and it just seems greedy of renault to not include it as standard.
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