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Driven: Renault's Megane GT220 hatch targets Golf GTI

Playing Golf: Renault's refreshed Megane range includes a new sports hatch, the GT220, that is designed to go head to head with VW's Golf GTI, but is $6000 cheaper.

Fresh look, new powertrains and more models for Renault Megane in mid-life rev up

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24 Jul 2014

RENAULT Australia is going after the top-selling Volkswagen Golf GTI with a new hot hatch of its own, the Megane GT220, as part of a major small-car facelift that also includes a broader range and Renault's bold new front design.

Previously only available in the limited-edition Megane GT220 Sport Wagon, the 2.0-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder petrol engine – a detuned version of the force-fed powertrain of the fiery 195kW Megane RS265 Cup coupe flagship – provides 162kW of power and 340Nm of torque in the five-door GT220 hatch and GT220 Sport Wagon that are both now permanent fixtures in the range.

The Megane range grows from 14 to 19 variants, with more diesel choices, a wider spread of its 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine, a new dual-clutch automatic transmission and the fresh look that brings the Megane into line with Renault's new styling language introduced on the latest Clio.

On Megane, the new brand identity includes a new front bumper and grille with a bigger Renault badge and daytime running lights.

The outgoing Megane was already riding a crest of a sales wave in Australia, up 88 per cent in the first half of this year, and Renault Australia expects the refreshed model to edge even closer to the Australian motor industry mainstream.

The new Megane GT220 hatch and wagon will sit between the mid-range GT-Line and RS265 sports coupe, and will be priced from $35,490 plus on-road costs for the five-door hatch and $36,990 for the Sport Wagon.

That makes the GT220 hatch $6000 more affordable than the 162kW/350Nm VW Golf GTI which starts at $41,490, and more than $8000 cheaper than the most affordable Megane RS265 Cup ($43,990).

While the Golf is available with a choice of six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic transmissions, the Megane GT220 will come only with a six-speed manual.

Renault Australia claims the GT220 can accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 7.6 seconds, which is more than a second slower than the Golf GTI manual.

The Megane's fuel economy is said to be 7.3 litres per 100km on the official combined test cycle, but this is also slightly inferior to that of the Golf which manages 6.2L/100km in manual form.

The Golf is offered in one well-equipped trim level that includes high-end items such as adaptive chassis control and sat-nav, plus a range of up-market options such as leather seats, while the Megane GT220 will be offered in two levels.

The upmarket Premium trim adds leather-clad heated seats, rear-view camera, front parking sensors, panoramic sunroof and sat-nav with seven-inch screen and Renault's track-style driving data monitor.

GT220 Premium prices are $39,490 (plus on-roads) for the hatch and $40,990 for the Sport Wagon, which is still cheaper than the standard Golf GTI.

While the GT220 will inject more excitement into the Megane range, the most popular engine choice is expected to be the 1.2-litre turbocharged TCe 130 four-cylinder petrol unit, which replaces the outdated 2.0-litre petrol engine in Megane.

Sipping 5.6 litres per 100km, this engine is 28 per cent more efficient than the clunker it replaces.

Producing 97kW and 205Nm, the down-sized 1.2-litre engine was launched in the Megane in a limited form last year, but because it was available only with a manual gearbox, it has found only 72 buyers since then.

Now with an alternative six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, Renault expects the unit to take off, accounting for at least 60 per cent of Megane sales in auto form. For the few that still want to swap cogs themselves, a six-speed manual is also still available.

The next biggest seller in the Megane range is expected to be the 2.0-litre dCi 110 diesel which is now available in three hatch and three wagon variants, including entry level models, which Renault believes will improve its popularity Available only with the Getrag dual-clutch auto – unusual in a European small car – the Megane diesel has 81kW of power and 240Nm of torque, delivering thrifty 4.5L/100km fuel economy and carbon-dioxide emissions rated at 118 grams per kilometre.

The new Megane five-door hatch range now has four levels – entry level Authentique (replacing Expression), GT-Line, GT-Line Premium and sporty GT220.

Pricing starts at $20,990 for the 1.2-litre petrol Authentique – the same list price as the former 2.0-litre Expression – with a $2500 premium for automatic transmission.

The cheapest diesel is the $25,990 Authentique dCi, but that includes the dual-clutch auto as standard.

The wagon range also has four levels – Dynamique, GT-Line, GT-Line Premium and GT220 – and kicks off with the petrol-powered Dynamique with auto transmission at $26,990.

The most affordable diesel wagon is the Dynamique dCi at $29,490.

Standard equipment in the Authentique hatch includes manual air-conditioning, cloth seats, daytime running lights, fog-lights, cruise control and hill-start assist.

The GT-Line adds sportier suspension, combo cloth-leather seats, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control air-conditioning, auto headlights and wipers, electric parking brake, sat-nav with seven-inch screen, front and rear parking sensors, leather steering wheel and gear knob, GT interior trim and more.

Stepping up to the Premium line adds full leather heated seats, automatic headlight dip and lane departure warning, rear seat central armrest, rear-view camera, and panoramic sunroof.

The wagon starts at a higher level of trim than its hatch counterpart. The base Dynamique wagon gets dual-zone climate control, parking sensors, auto lights and wipes, leather gear knob and steering wheel, 16-inch alloys, fog lights, electric parking brake and wagon-only items such as roof rails and cargo net.

The GT-Line and Premium packs for the wagon are similar to those of the hatch.

Like all Renault passengers cars now, the Megane comes with a five-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, roadside assist and capped-price servicing.

2014 Renault Megane pricing*
Hatch
Authentique TCe 130. $20,990
Authentique TCe 130 (a) $23,490
Authentique dCi 110 (a) $25,990
GT-Line TCe 130 (a) $26,990
GT-Line dCi 110 (a) $29,490
GT-Line Premium TCe 130 (a) $30,990
GT-Line Premium dCi 110 (a) $33,490
Wagon
Dynamique TCe 130 (a) $26,990
GT-Line TCe 130 (a) $28,490
Dynamique dCi 110 (a) $29,490
GT-Line dCi 110 (a) $31,490
GT-Line Premium TCe 130 (a) $32,490
GT-Line Premium dCi 110 (a) $35,490
GT220 Hatch and Wagon
Hatch $35,490
Sport Wagon $36,990
Hatch Premium $39,490
Sport Wagon Premium $40,990
*Excludes on-road costs.

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