Renault is determined to be a big player amongst a host of European marques currently being imported to Australia. The French maker used to be huge in this country, building cars here for many years, and would like to return to its days of being a mainstream player downunder.
Using the time honoured method of increasing sales, Renault Australia has cut prices on its biggest selling model, the Megane. It has greatly expanded the number of models on offer and, best of all, has introduced a high-performance station wagon.
The latter is the most interesting so let’s open the story by looking at it. The Megane GT 220 Sport wagon is a slightly detuned version of one of our favourite high-performance cars – the Megane RS 265 coupe. While the 265 is a semi-track model for the very serious driver, the 220 is aimed at the person looking for a family transport with a healthy dose of driving excitement.
By the way the numbers 265 and 220 refer to the peak output of the engines in horsepower. The French, who invented the metric system, don’t use it when measuring power outputs of engines, preferring to use the imperial units of horsepower. May we cynically suggest that’s because 265 and 220 are bigger number than 195 and 162 (the power in kilowatts for the powerplants)?
We spent a great couple of hours driving the GT 220 wagon in the hills behind Brisbane and were impressed by the engine responding with a minimum of lag, the endless torque provided once it was on song and the overall handling and ride package. As it’s less fierce than the Megane 265 coupe the wagon will make a competent daily driver.
As well as the hot Sport wagon, there’s also a standard wagon with good load carrying capacity. As well as back seats that fold flat, the front passenger seat can also fold flat. With the front seat down there’s a load length of 2550 mm.
Renault Megane wagon is sold in Dynamique level specification with 16-inch alloys, dual-zone climate control, roof rails, and rear parking sensors. It can be ordered with a petrol or diesel engine, but only with an automatic transmission in Australia.
The Megane CC (Coupe-Cabriolet) with its folding hard-top is now offered in three models, previously there was just a single, rather expensive, one. In a new entry level specification the Megane CC begins at just $36,990, making it bargain priced in its class.
For those looking for more, there’s a Renault Sport designed GT-Line as a package on the Megane hatch, station wagon and Coupe-Cabriolet. This has a sportier front bumper design, a honeycomb grill and boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights. Megane GT-Line is available in a signature Malta Blue colour, sometimes called French racing blue.
Inside, the GT-Line Megane has sport seats and steering wheel.
The GT-Line has firmer suspension than the standard models. We found this to be rather firm, and created quite a bit of tyre noise on the rough and ready Aussie backroads we used on some sections of our drive program. So it might be best to try it for yourself before falling in love with the appearance changes.
Renault Megane hatch comes in a new entry level specification, Expression. This has a recommended retail price of just $20,990 with a manual gearbox. Interestingly, the Megane Expression automatic has an rrp of $22,990 which is the same price as the outgoing manual model.
A fully imported European machine for the price of an Asian car? That’s likely to spark a lot of buyer interest in the new and expanded Renault Megane range.
The complete 2013 Renault Megane range is:
Mégane Hatch Expression Petrol: $20,990 (manual), $22,990 (CVT)
Mégane Hatch GT-Line Petrol $26,490 (CVT)
Mégane Hatch GT-Line Diesel: $28,990 (EDC)
Mégane Hatch Privilege Petrol: $29,990 (CVT)
Mégane Hatch GT-Line Premium Pack Petrol: $29,990 (CVT)
Mégane Hatch Privilege Diesel: $32,490 (EDC)
Mégane Hatch GT-Line Premium Pack Diesel: 32,490 (EDC)
Mégane Wagon Dynamique Petrol: $26,490 (CVT)
Mégane Wagon GT-Line Petrol: $27,990 (CVT)
Mégane Wagon GT-Line Diesel: $30,490 (EDC)
Mégane Wagon GT-Line Premium Pack Petrol: $31,490 (CVT)
Mégane Wagon GT-Line Premium Pack Diesel: $33,990 (EDC)
Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet Petrol: $36,990 (CVT)
Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet GT-Line Petrol: $41,990 (CVT)
Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet Privilege Petrol: $43,990 (CVT)
Mégane GT 220 Sport Wagon: $36,990 (CVT)
Mégane GT 220 Sport Wagon Premium Pack: $41,990 (CVT)
Note: Prices do not include government or dealer charges. Contact your local Renault dealer for drive away pricing.