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First UK drive: Renault Megane GT. Image by Renault.

First UK drive: Renault Megane GT
It's a warm hatch rather than a hot one, but Renault's Megane GT is appealing nonetheless.

   



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Renault Megane GT

4 4 4 4 4

Our second drive in the current range-topper for the fourth-generation Renault Megane sees us testing the 205hp, Renault Sport-fettled GT on UK roads. The good news is that we like it a lot more here than we did overseas, although we have concerns about the price.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Renault Megane GT Nav
Pricing: from 16,600; GT Nav from 25,500; car as tested 28,475
Engine: 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: front-wheel drive, seven-speed EDC dual-clutch automatic
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 134g/km (VED Band E, 130 annually)
Combined economy: 47.1mpg
Top speed: 143mph
0-62mph: 7.1 seconds
Power: 205hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 280Nm at 2,400rpm

What's this?

The all-new Renault Megane, now in its fourth generation and here tested in top-of-the-tree GT guise. That means it has a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine good for 205hp and 280Nm, a seven-speed Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) transmission and Renault's fancy 4Control active four-wheel steering system. Oh, and some input from the firm's fabled Renault Sport performance division.

It is not, though, the 'proper' RS Megane, which is due some time in 2017; rather, it is a fill-in model designed to bridge the gap between the regular hatchback range and the forthcoming out-and-out performance version. Therefore, perhaps the GT's clear USP is how attractive it is in the metal. Pictures don't really do the Megane justice, because it's a damn fine-looking machine up close and personal, even more so in this GT guise with its Iron Blue paint, 18-inch diamond-cut Daytona alloys, subtly beefed-up body styling and that rear diffuser with twin pipes peeking out either side. We love the wide rear light clusters, the neat way the radar has been hidden in the diamond badge on the Renault's nose and those C-shaped daytime running lights. Yes, it's a very handsome hatch, all told.

The inside is very good too, with adequate leg- and headroom in the rear for taller adults, a comfortable driving position and a decent-sized boot (434 litres with all seats in place), although the cargo area's floor is a good distance below the lip of the hatch aperture. Key features for the new car include the 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen and a seven-inch TFT instrument cluster, both of which are excellent, although they're spec-dependent: for the former, on Expression+ there's a very basic infotainment system in the centre of the dash, and on Dynamique Nav and GT Line Nav models it's a seven-inch landscape item instead; while the digital speedo isn't available on the Expression+ entry-level Megane - it appears at Dynamique Nav and above.

The GT model has deeper sculpted bucket seats with lots of blue detailing and some white stitching patterns on the chairs, while there are paddles to shift gears mounted on the steering column. Minor black mark here: they don't have the long lobes descending beneath the wheel, as on the current Clio Renault Sport, which means if you keep your hands fixed on the wheel's rim during cornering, you'll be groping in mid-air for the upshift as you're exiting right-hand bends. Tut tut, Renault Sport.

How does it drive?

When Kyle first drove this car at the tail-end of last year, he was singularly unimpressed. Disjointed was how he described the way the four-wheel steer Megane GT went about its business. He did, however, offer the caveat that further calibration time was possible between his test drive and the car appearing in showrooms.

And, on the basis of this blast around the moorland roads of England's northern fringes, it would seem some serious calibration work has been done, because the Megane GT felt properly engaging. However, we'd temper that summation with this: if you hear that Renault Sport has been involved in the development of the GT, and you're expecting it to go tearing into bends in a fury of front-end grip, cocking an inside rear wheel and even indulging its driver in some lift-off oversteer while it's at it, then this really isn't the car for you. In fact, you might even loathe it.

What it is, is a car that likes to get into a lovely, rhythmic flow. On a desolate back road draped over the sheep-spattered northern Pennines, the Megane GT simply oozed along the route, responding well to a driving style that doesn't require you to rev the living nuts off the thing or make the tyres howl in mournful protest come every curve. Revel in the 1.6-litre's punchy midrange and you won't be chasing the 6,500rpm redline, instead just shifting up on the approach to 6,000rpm and dropping the car back into the bulk of the torque. There's a fluid and supple feel to the ride/handling balance, which lets the GT breathe with the worst of the vicious cambers and ruts up on the moors, so you're not fighting with torque-steer or the car skipping off line thanks to intransigent dampers. Put it this way: despite modest on-paper stats of 7.1 seconds for 0-62mph and a 143mph top speed, the Megane GT feels a very quick and capable car across ground.

You'll notice the 4Control four-wheel steering, though, because it provides an odd centre-pivoting sensation to the way the Megane GT tackles low-speed corners. Up to 50mph it can steer the rear wheels as much as 2.7 degrees in the opposite direction to the fronts, and the system certainly does do its job at negating understeer and providing the Renault with real agility. But it's almost like the car is breaking into lift-off oversteer, only to freeze right at the point opposite lock would normally be required. You get used to it and soon build a rapport, yet you need to be prepared for the unusual sensation of the back end swinging around the first time you trigger the system.

Otherwise, it's a pleasant machine. It has a decent, tending-to-the-firm ride on its fixed-rate dampers and springs, the steering is weighty and reasonably communicative - if not absolutely brimming with feedback - the brakes are strong and well-modulated and the EDC gearbox reacts pretty sharply to either paddle inputs or clicks of the gear lever (NB: Renault has its sequential shift on the gate the 'correct' way round). There were only a few occasions where it refused to downshift when asked, although we were deliberately provoking it to almost over-rev. And the 1.6-litre M5MT engine, which is the same as that found in the current Clio Renault Sport, feels more cultured and sounds throatier here than it does in its full-on, smaller performance sibling. Sadly, even if we allow for the unrealistic nature of NEDC consumption figures, 47.1mpg still looks wildly optimistic, as merely moderately quick off-motorway driving saw the Renault returning around 21mpg.

Its biggest failing is not its outright lack of driver interactivity - the genuine RS Megane will deal with that sort of tomfoolery - but its price. We're all for warm hatches supplementing hot range-toppers, but at 25,500, the GT's about three grand too dear for its performance, we reckon. And with the Iron Blue metallic paint (525), the hands-free parking pack (350), the Safety Pack Premium (adaptive cruise control, distance warning and autonomous emergency braking for 400), the Bose sound system (500) and a two-tone blue-and-grey Alcantara Pack+ (1,200), you're looking at a Megane that costs 28,475 - and if we only pick one bona fide, full-fat hot hatch out of the current crop, then a basic five-door SEAT Leon Cupra 290 at 29,255 is going to hammer the poor GT Renault for driving thrills and pace.

Verdict

We'll happily revise our initial mark of the Renault Megane GT upwards by a significant degree on this showing, as it would seem any pre-production issues have been ironed out in final sign-off. Thus, while no scorching road rocket, the current Megane flagship feels like a very decent stab at a warm hatchback. But, like its natural Peugeot 308 rival - also called the GT, also packing a 1.6-litre 205hp engine, and also going with the blue colour theme - the Megane's pricing pushes it into genuine hot hatch territory, which seems a bizarre and highly risky move on Renault's part. Still, if you don't need ultimate boy racer performance and you like the GT's striking looks, this is a fine five-door motor to contemplate.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 22 Jul 2016



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2016 Renault Megane GT. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane GT. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane GT. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane GT. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane GT. Image by Renault.

2016 Renault Megane GT. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane GT. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane GT. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane GT. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane GT. Image by Renault.








 

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