By Vani Naidoo, Marque Motoring
Renault has spruced up the design of this fourth-generation Megane, dropped the price and tweaked the drive in the hope it will resonate more strongly with Australian buyers.
To help combat the perception that French cars cost a mint to maintain Renault Australia is offering the Megane with a five year unlimited kilometres warranty and full roadside assist and capped price servicing for three years.
Standard inclusions feature keyless entry and push button start, 7.0-inch touchscreen, Alcantara leather trim upholstery, dual-zone climate control, auto headlights and wipers as well as sat nav, park assist and privacy glass.
The Premium Pack ($1990) adds the 8.7-inch portrait screen, full LED headlights and a Bose sound system.
The GT sits low and wide on its 18-inch alloys, with curvy hips, sporty nose and sculpted flanks hinting at the fun that can be had.
A sharp LED headlight design, chrome and silver highlights and dual exhaust tips complete a distinctive, edgy look that sets it apart from competitors.
The Megane GT boasts an airy, well-appointed cabin with the black and blue sport-style bucket seats offering the comfort and support you need for a spot of energetic driving.
The blue is echoed in the contrast stitching on the steering wheel, in the ambient lighting, as a backdrop to the instrumentation and in the tint of the carbon fibre trim too, which not only lifts the ambience of the cabin but also gives it an air of the different.
However, the soft touch plastics and top-notch finishing sit alongside cheaper, easily marked materials and tardy shortcuts in adapting the European car to a right-hand drive market.
The optional 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen in our test car dominated the dash, looking completely at home in the sleekly integrated design.
It is responsive and offers good graphics quality but is not as intuitive as units that mirror the smartphone software we have become so accustomed to.
Megane GT is equipped with six airbags, traction and stability control and reverse camera with front and rear sensors. Surprisingly, there is not autonomous emergency braking or adaptive cruise control in Australian models yet.
Decent mid-range torque helps it along and it certainly doesn’t feel hesitant when you ask the question.
Unfortunately, the steering wheel paddles are oddly shaped and are not really comfortably placed with the gearbox’s penchant to shift up automatically if you try to hold on to a lower gear also detracting from the experience.
The new suspension set-up gives its more control and agility, while the nifty 4Control four-wheel steering improves flexibility and handling, allowing it to duck into corners easily and giving it stability while travelling at high speeds.
Below 60km/h the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front, making the car feel better balanced and supporting quick changes of direction, and pretty handy for parking, too.
The GT is sure footed and fairly comfortable over bumps and ruts, niggling a bit but not enough to irritate, but cabin noise can be a bit loud on coarse bitumen.
At 434 litres the boot is pretty handy, deep enough to hold the weekly shop along with a schoolbag or two.
Lodgings for rear seat passengers are comfortable enough provided you limit it to two and adults will find their knees touching the seats in front.
There are air vents back there and handy map pockets, two Isofix points, the middle armrest and door bins deep enough to be useful.
Not so useful are the front cup holders. They are oddly sized and not deep enough to hold that much-needed takeaway coffee without a degree of precariousness.
Renault claims a combined fuel economy of six litres per 100 kilometres and although ours was closer to 7.2 litres/100km during our week, that did include more short spirited drives than long trips.
With classy good looks and a responsive involving drive, the Renault Megane GT is one to consider.
Competitive pricing, an excellent warranty and an expanding dealership network also add to the allure.
This is a fun car, not without its idiosyncrasies, mind you, but we love the French for that.
Contact Barry Bourke Renault, 755 Princes Highway, Berwick. Phone 9707 2222.
2017 Renault Megane GT from $38,490 (plus on-road costs).