Warm hatches tend to fill the hole between a standard hatchback and a hot hatch. But with the new Megane hatchback just launching, this new Megane GT ultimately acts as a warm hatch precursor to the red hot Megane Renaultsport which will arrive sometime next year.
So what of the GT? Well, it’s still designed and engineered by the Renaultsport team, so there are plenty of treats in store, like all-wheel steering for example and some exclusive design features like a unique grille, bumpers, diffuser and Renaultsport badging.
The GT is also based on Renault’s CMF platform, the same one as its Kadjar SUV, and the French brand expects 70 per cent of its models to use this platform in the future.
Power in the GT comes from a turbocharged 1.6-litre TCe petrol, which produces 202bhp and allows a zero to 62mph sprint time of 7.2 seconds. You can shoot off the mark using launch control if you so wish, too. There’s also a decent 280Nm of torque on offer, which comes in at 2,400rpm. Renault will be introducing a 163bhp diesel variant to the GT in 2017.
This petrol certainly feels nippier than your usual 1.6 petrol, especially when you have its variable Multi-Sense Sport mode activated, which noticeably sharpens up the throttle response and makes the engine sounds sportier – through the speakers anyway. It’s not hot hatch fast – and it’s not supposed to be – but it definitely offers enough punch to tackle similar warm hatches like the Peugeot 308 GT, and is arguably a bit more menacing than its French competition.
The 1.6-litre TCe comes mated to a seven-speed EDC automatic only which comes accompanied with steering column-mounted paddle shifters. It’s clear the Renaultsport team have worked their magic with this gearbox, with sharp gear changes and Multi-change down when braking, allowing the revs to bounce up and fire you out of a bend.
Ride and Handling
Naturally, the Sports mode weights the steering up, although you still get good levels of feedback and the weighting doesn’t feel as artificial as other variable electrical systems.
As with other warm hatches, the GT model is noticeably firmer than the standard Megane, which in return makes it more planted in the corners – and thankfully doesn’t upset comfort too much. This is aided by its 4Control all-wheel steering system, which gives the car extra stability on twisty roads by turning the rear wheels by up to 2.7 degrees at speeds of less than 50mph (in Sport mode). This essentially helps you when tucking the car into a bend and reduces the likelihood of understeer – to a certain extent of course. This is the only car in its class to offer this. At first, this system can be quite intrusive, as the back-end loads up and it feels if someone other than yourself is helping the car through the corners. Once you get used to it however and learn where the car’s limits are, it can make even mediocre driver’s feel like they are hitting the apex of a bend like a pro. It almost feels like there is a pole through the centre of the car, which keeps body control in check and stops the back-end leaning out. The Multi-Sense system gives you a bit of variety when it comes to comfort. If you are nipping out to the shops and don’t necessarily want a sporty drive, then you can go for the tamer Neutral, ECO or Comfort mode. Each of these modes offering similar, lighter steering set-ups. Naturally, the Sports mode weights the steering up, although you still get good levels of feedback and the weighting doesn’t feel as artificial as other variable electrical systems. For those who want to make it their own, there is Perso mode – which allows a bespoke set-up of things like steering, throttle responsiveness and engine note.
Interior and Equipment
The Renault Megane has sold 6.6 million units since 1996.
The obvious additions on the inside are the blue carbon fibre-effect inserts plastered on the dashboard and doors, blue GT badge on the steering wheel and the boy racer-styled blue and black bucket seats. These are great additions and certainly give the Megane a hot hatch appeal – even if it is just aesthetic. The GT Nav model is also tech-happy with a reversing camera, automatic dual zone climate control, DAB radio, Bluetooth and of course sat-nav. Many of these features are housed within Renault’s new 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen, giving a premium Tesla-like feel. This screen looks great and is very easy to use, although its responsiveness could be a bit sharper. There’s some useful safety kit too, like traffic sign recognition, automatic headlights and lane departure warning – which sounds a bit like a machine gun when you venture out of your lane. The layout of the Megane’s cabin is less busy when compared to the old model, definitely a good thing, and thankfully the outdated toggle on the centre console has vanished. There are a few solid plastic bits on the fascia which seem as though they are alluding to the fact that you don’t have the top trim, but that’s just the way it’s designed. Although it gets chunky bucket seats, practicality in the back of the Megane is still really good, with lots of leg room and, regardless of its sporty exterior, plenty of head room too. The boot is a great size as well, and even though there is quite a big loading lip, its sheer 434 litre size makes up for it. And the rear seats are 60:40 split folding.
Fuel economy and efficiency wise, the Megane GT is about right for a warm hatch, claiming an average return of 47.1mpg and emitting 134g/km of CO2
For £25,500 you get quite a lot of car. You can get a well-specced Ford Focus ST for that price, but it’s still good value for money. Our test car came out at £28,575, due to some plush optional extras like hands free parking (£350) and Metallic Paint (£525). Fuel economy and efficiency wise, the Megane GT is about right for a warm hatch, claiming an average return of 47.1mpg and emitting 134g/km of CO2. Something like the Peugeot 308 GT offers slightly stronger figures, but nothing to shout about.
The beauty of a warm hatch is that it offers tasty performance but doesn’t hurt the bank too much. And that’s what the Megane GT does. Its combination of offering things like launch control, the 4Control system and impressive variable steering modes make it fun to drive and yet easy to live with. Plus, the likes of its new portrait touchscreen and swanky bucket seats make it feel rather premium - great for those who may not be able to go all-out for a hot hatch.