By Barry Green
Based on Renault’s Common Module Family C/D architecture, the newcomer features a wide range of specifications more commonly associated with the next segment up and seen on the new Espace and Talisman.
It is longer, lower and has a wider front and rear track than its predecessor. Bolder, more chiselled exterior styling and 3D Edge effect lighting at the front and rear further sets it apart.
Four variants are offered: the entry level Life; mid-range Zen; GT-Line; and – until the arrival of the RS next year – the hero of the range, the GT.
“On the road, the new GT is a very impressive performance hatch that will appeal to enthusiastic drivers,” Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar said.
“The Life, Zen and GT-Line models will surprise and delight a wide range of new car customers, from those buying up to those downsizing, who don’t want to give up on premium, luxury or advanced technology features.”
The GT benefits from Renault Sport technology in the form of a new generation, turbo-charged petrol engine, 4CONTROL four-wheel steering, R.S. Drive Mode with Launch Control and Multi Change Down shift control.
Configured by Renault Sport’s engineers specifically for the new GT, 4CONTROL steers the rear wheels, generating (in Renault’s words) ‘a sporty, dynamic and precise cornering feel to deliver an unprecedented and unrivalled driving experience’. At speeds up to 60km/h (80km/h in Sport mode), the rear wheels are steered in the opposite direction to the front wheels for greater manoeuvrability. Above 60km/h (80km/h in Sport mode) they are steered in the same direction to enhance cornering grip and control.
Alcantara-covered sports seats with integrated headrests, flat-bottomed leather-wrapped sports steering wheel and aluminium pedals carry the sporty theme through to the interior.
The unique MULTI-SENSE personalisation system allows the driver to select Normal, Comfort, Sport or Perso modes, to configure engine, transmission and steering settings, as well as interior lighting and dash displays at the touch of a button.
The new R-LINK 2 multimedia infotainment system covers audio, satellite navigation (from Zen variant onwards), telephony and vehicle settings, including access to Easy Park Assist (GT-Line and GT), all via the standard seven-inch landscape orientation capacitive touchscreen, or optionally, through an 8.7 inch portrait tablet-style screen (GT-Line and GT), both of which offer pinch and zoom functionality.
The GT is powered by the latest generation Renault Sport 1.6-litre high efficiency engine mated to an enhanced Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) seven-speed transmission, controlled by paddle shifts mounted on the steering column. It delivers its maximum power of 151kW at 6000rpm and maximum torque of 280Nm at just 2400rpm, giving a broad, useable power band. ADR combined cycle fuel figure is 6.0 litres/100km.
At the new model launch out of Byron Bay and through the winding roads of the Gold Coast hinterland, the GT particularly impressed with its strong, eager engine response and planted grip. Renault has achieved what not many do in Sport mode – melding a fine balance of compliant, but not too firm, ride with well-weighted steering and entertaining dynamics. And, yes, you definitely can feel the 4CONTROL doing its thing, working with you in flowing the car through a corner.
The Life, Zen and GT-Line offerings are powered by a 97kW four-cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine that delivers 205Nm, and in six-speed manual guise uses 5.5 litres/100km (5.6 in seven-speed EDC auto mode).
The all-new Megane has more space front and rear. Front shoulder room increases by 22mm, while in the rear there is 20mm more knee room and 27mm more shoulder room. The cargo space extends to 434 litres with the rear seats up and 1247 litres with them folded.
Renault points to the interior being quieter and more cosseting, thanks to a stiffer body shell and additional insulation, while six airbags and an array of active and passive safety systems assist, alert and protect the driver and occupants.
A rear view camera and rear parking sensors, LED daytime running lights, auto headlights and wipers, and tyre pressure monitoring are all standard from the Life model up, while the GT-Line gains Blind Sport Warning.
An optional factory-fitted pack for GT-Line and GT models adds Pure Vision LED headlights, 8.7 inch portrait orientation screen and a high output Bose audio system.
As with all Renault passenger cars and R.S. models, the all-new Megane comes with a five year unlimited kilometre warranty, five year roadside assistance and Capped Price Servicing for the first three scheduled (annual or up to 30,000km) services, priced at $299 each.
Prices start at $22,490 for the Life variant with six-speed manual. Fitted with EDC, the Life costs $24,490, Zen $27,490, GT-Line $32,490 and GT $38,490 (all prices exclude metallic paint, dealer delivery and statutory charges).