2017 Renault Megane GT Review – Australian Drive
Alex Rae’s 2017 Renault Megane GT Review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The Megane GT is a fun to drive warm hatch and the four-wheel steering system is quite the trick. Renault Sport tuning helps it stick to the road when driving fast but it has some quirks and is no R.S.
2017 Renault Megane GT
Pricing From $38,490+ORC Warranty five years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 15,000kms/12 months Safety Not yet rated Engine 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol Power/Torque 151kW/280Nm Transmission seven-speed dual-clutch automatic Drive front-wheel drive Dimensions 4356mm (L); 1814mm (W); 1582mm (H) Bootspace 434 litres Spare space saver Fuel Tank 50 litres Thirst From 6.0L/100km
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WHILE WE WAIT for the updated Renault Megane R.S. to arrive, the Megane GT is the hottest model you can get in the range right now. The GT is effectively a warm option between run-of-the-mill models and the R.S. (when it arrives), replacing the Megane GT220.
The Renault Sport-tuned GT earns some street cred with that badge alone, but some purists will lament the GT doesn’t come with a manual which was the only option on the more powerful GT220. From Renault’s perspective however, it should see a boost in sales.
What is it?
The current-generation Megane is based on the Renault-Nissan CMF platform which underpins SUVs such as the Renault Koleos and small cars like the Megane and Nissan Pulsar.
Exterior styling on the GT is edgy and sporty, mixing sharp headlight design with that signature Renault grill. Bolstering its warm hatch image are a rear spoiler, silver and chrome highlights and dual exhaust tips.
Lower-spec Megane models get a smaller 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine while the GT and GT-line which have been tuned by RenaultSport receive a larger, more powerful, 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 151kW at 6000rpm and 280NM at 2800rpm. The more powerful engine and launch control function lower the 0-100km/h sprint from 10.6sec to 7.1sec.
The RenaultSport division has also tuned the suspension to ride a little firmer and more composed, and there’s four-wheel steering to sharpen turn-in and help reduce understeer.
Pricing starts from $38,490 (+ORC) which slips under rival Frenchie the Peugeot 308 GT ($42,990+ORC) but above the new Holden Astra RS-V ($33,190+ORC). There’s a reasonable amount of standard inclusions for the money, including 18-inch Magny-Cours alloy wheels, Alcantara leather trim upholstery, sports style seats, alloy foot pedals, 7-inch infotainment with reverse camera, front and rear parking sensor and auto parking, keyless entry and push-button start.
A $1990 premium pack adds LED headlights, 8.7-inch portrait infotainment screen and Bose audio sound system (pictured).
The GT misses out on blind spot monitoring (standard only on GT-line and non-optional on GT). Australia also misses out on autonomous automatic braking technology which is available on European models. Hmm.
What’s it like inside?
Inside feels properly sporty and features sports seats clad with black and blue Alcantara upfront with good side bolstering but, while the seats are well bolstered and hugging, they felt tiring after long drives due to lack lustre back support and not quite right ergonomics. The front seats are manually adjustable and a good driving position isn’t hard to attain in conjunction with tilt-and-reach adjustable steering wheel; but this is not a country cruiser.
A small digital display dash – a trend among new cars – looks good, and the fuel and temperature gauges remain on either side. The dash can be customised to a small extent and changes theme depending on drive mode, but it is not as comprehensive or well implemented as, say, Audi’s virtual cockpit.
The steering wheel has a nice feel in the hands at 9 and 3 and behind the wheel are two large column mounted paddle shifters which feel solid. Mounted to the column, rather than the steering wheel means the short-fingered driver might need to go fishing to find the paddle and the items in the GT would benefit from extending downward.
The 8.7-inch infotainment screen ($1990 premium pack only) has been implemented as a portrait layout rather than landscape, and while it fills the lower centre dash space it can also be a distraction when driving. It’s also a bit fiddly to use which doesn’t help the fact the climate controls have been integrated into the touch screen. Temperature is still controlled via a rotary dial, but changing a setting such as fan speed requires getting to the climate screen and trying not to push the wrong part of the screen while driving and bumping around.
Connectivity to the R-Link infotainment is via two USB ports which will read a phone for music but it doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto – a feature that would boost the infotainment’s functionality. Another issue of the R-Link is that it can no longer connect to Telstra through its 2G simcard to provide updates such as weather and live traffic. Without these functions the R-Link has loses a fair amount of appeal and there’s doesn’t seem to be a fix. We’ve asked Renault Australia for comment and will report back on this issue (owners have already reached out to us).
In the back there’s room for two adults but it is tight. The seats are comfortable and continue the theme from the front, a bonus is the air vent for rear passengers. There are map pockets behind each front seat and all windows are automatic up-and-down. The interior features hidden coloured strip lighting throughout which can be customised in the infotainment settings.
The boot is 434 litres, a good amount of room but it is more deep than long. The seats split fold 60:40 to extend boot space to 1247 litres, however the seats don’t fold flat into the floor.
What’s it like on the road?
The Megane GT achieves its goal of being a sporty warm hatch and there’s a good amount of pulling power. It hasn’t got the frenetic pep the R.S. model carries but it’ll still power through corners and provide ample fun. There’s not much growl from the exhaust unfortunately although extra in-cabin exhaust noise can be dialled up within the vehicle settings. Obivously we’d just like to have a more throaty, and natural, exhaust note.
The new four-wheel steering can be felt (when in R.S. mode) and it helps reduce understeer if really going at it; if not, you’ll likely never notice it unless you drive something without four-wheel steering back-to-back. The way it works is to turn in the opposing direction when under 60km/h and switch to turn with the steering wheel input over that.
The Megane GT is a pretty well rounded package for a warm hatch, and the 1.6-litre engine provides some usable power, but the seven-speed dual-clutch feels lazy around town and is hesitant to engage when you need a gear in traffic. But, like the rest of the car, as speed rises so to does its performance, although it won’t hold onto manually selected gears, shifting at redline – not something you always want it to do. The steering column mounted paddles feel nice at the fingertips and although could be a little longer do the job well, and are a nice change from steering wheel mounted paddles which can be both too small and hard to reach on tight corners.
What about safety features?
The Renault Megane GT hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP but it’s available, as standard on all models, with airbags covering the front and rear, traction and stability controls, front and rear parking sensors and reversing camera and speed limiter. Disappointingly the Megane in Australia doesn’t offer AEB which is available on European models.
Why would you buy one?
The Megane GT brings a sportiness to the updated Megane range and, more than just a show pony, it’s capable of some sharp driving thanks to a capable four-wheel steering system. The new dual-clutch automatic transmission that was missing in the previous GT220 model will open the door to more buyers too. The are some sacrifices for the sharp driving though, which is that the automatic isn’t perfect when crawling around in traffic.
The GT also isn’t going to satisfy buyers waiting for the Megane R.S., but it offers about seven-tenths of what that car likely will and leaves some money in the pocket. It’s also a five-door and the boot is large enough that’s it’s practical enough for operating as a small family car in between fun-Sunday runs.
Priced a little under the 308 GT, the Megane GT offers equal amounts of French flair but has a longer five-year warranty and reasonable 15,000km service intervals.