NEW RENAULT MEGANE

renault_megane_frontRenault’s continuing strong push into the Australian market will be boosted by the introduction of an all-new Megane hatch. Aimed at offering a European car at a similar price to one from Japan or South Korea, French flair will be a major selling point of fourth generation Megane.

Prices start at $22,490 plus on-road costs for a six-speed manual version with the interesting title of Megane Life; its the only variant with a manual gearbox, a sign of the times – all others have a dual-clutch seven-speed automatic.

Moving up from the Megane Life is the even more interesting name of Megane Zen, at $27,490. Topping out the range is a pair of Megane GT variants, one a full-on GT, the other a dress-up tagged the GT-Line which has the sporting looks but doesn’t have the go faster bits to really power it along.

The GT-Line is likely to be a big seller because most of the Euro marques –
including the prestige brands – now have similar vehicles in their lineups. Today’s standard engines often provide more than enough performance for day-to-day use so owners can save a considerable amount by opting for a ‘Line’ type cars. In the case of the Renault Megane this means paying $32,490 for the GT-Line rather than an extra $6000 for the full-house GT version.

Gen-four Megane is longer and lower than the outgoing one and has wider front and rear tracks. Large headlights sit outside a big Renault diamond badge, there’s deep sculpting of the doors, and a distinctive shape to the C-pillars that works neatly. From the rear the Megane looks particularly low and purposeful, in part by using a similar theme to the latest Porsches in carrying the taillights in thin lines almost to the centre of the car.

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All models have alloy wheels; 16 inches on the Life and Zen, though with different designs from model to model; 17-inch diameter on the GT-Line, which can be optioned up to 18 inches; and 18s as standard on the GT.

Power comes from turbo-petrol engines in all models. The big gun engine in the GT is a 1.6-litre TCe 205 horsepower unit that produces 151 kW of power and 280 Nm of torque. The others, including the GT-Line have a 1.2-litre TCe 130 horsepower engine with 97 kW and 205 Nm.

Even the low cost Megane Life has keyless entry, dual-zone climate control, leather wrapped steering wheel and gear knob. Zen gains fancier DRLs with a 3D look, satellite navigation and an electric parking brake.

The GT-Line has an electric panoramic sunroof (front opening, tilting and sliding); front sports seats with integrated headrests; black Alcantara upholstery; rear privacy glass and chromed sill plates at the front doors.

The Megane GT car gets Renault Sport designed suspension and steering systems as well as RS Drive modes, steering column mounted paddle shifters (though we would prefer the paddles move with the wheel rather than being fixed to the column; aluminium accelerator and brake pedals; and Renault Sport badges.

renault_megane_interior

Infotainment is provided by Renault’s R-Link 2 Arkamys audio system with a 7.0-inch touchscreen and voice control. It has eight speakers, Aux socket and two USB plugs and two 12-volt charging points.

A portrait oriented 8.7 inch touchscreen is part of an options package. This shaped screen makes a lot of sense when using satellite navigation as it gives you a much longer view ahead.

A Bose audio system tailored specifically from the Megane is also optional.

Safety featuress on all variants include automatic windscreen wipers and headlights, and LED daytime running lights (DRLs), a reversing camera and rear parking sensors. The Zen also gets front parking sensors. The GT has a four-wheel steering system to further improve dynamics safety, more about it later.

A blind sport warning system is fitted to the GT-Line and GT – though we would like to think that owners of these sports models would know how to adjust the mirrors correctly and so not need an electronic warning.

Renault was the first company every to get a five-star safety rating and the French giant has taken safety even more seriously since that historic event. New Megane sailed through to five stars with ease.

A fascinating feature of the Megane GT is a four-wheel steering system. This uses computer controlled hydraulics, at speeds up to 60 km/h (80 km/h in Sport mode) the rear wheels are steered in the opposite direction to the front wheels to improve manoeuvrability, particularly when parking. Above those speeds the rear wheels are steered in the same direction as the front to cornering grip and control.

We tested this 4WS system during an extensive drive program in the hilly hinterland of northern NSW and south-east Queensland. The different is significant, with the full GT turning in with less movement of the steering wheel and holding its line with seemingly ridiculous ease.

This clever Renault ‘4Control’ system will prove a real winner for those who really enjoy their driving, indeed we suggest you try to tag onto a track day at a local circuit if you really want to push the hot Renault to its limit.

Renault Megane has a five year, unlimited distance warranty and five-year roadside assistance. Capped price servicing for the first three scheduled services is just $299 for each.

Renault Megane sedans and station wagons will join this new five-door hatch at a date yet to be announced. All that Renault Australia chief, Justin Hocevar will tell us at this stage is that they will arrive somewhere in the first half of 2017.

The complete Renault Megane hatch range is:
Life: $22,490 (manual), $24,990 (dual-clutch automatic)
Zen $27,490 (dual-clutch automatic)
GT-Line: $32,490 (dual-clutch automatic)
GT: $38,490 (dual-clutch automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Renault dealer for drive-away prices.

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