NIP’N’TUCK

Re­nault Megane’s mid-life GT-Line vari­ants are for driv­ers who value on-road dy­nam­ics. It’s a smart for­mula

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - CRAIG DUFF craig.duff@cars­guide.com.au

RE­NAULT has fi­nally got a han­dle on what Aus­tralians want— and has launched a GT-Line vari­ant of the Me­ganes to give it to us.

The hatch and newly in­tro­duced wagon join the lineup as part of a mid-life up­grade, pri­ori­tis­ing driver in­volve­ment over ve­hi­cle ac­cel­er­a­tion. What they miss in a straight line they more than make up for when the roads twist and tighten.

Toss in a de­cent ride over bro­ken sur­faces and it’s easy to see why Re­nault Aus­tralia ex­pects the GT-Line to give the Megane a de­cent kick in sales.

VALUE

En­try starts at $26,490 for the 2.0-litre petrol hatch with a bet­ter-than-aver­age con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion. The 1.5-litre turbo diesel with a dual-clutch au­to­matic adds $2500.

Step up to the leather-clad in­te­rior of the GT-Line Pre­mium Pack ver­sions and the petrol model is $29,990, diesel $32,490. Wagon ver­sions of all mod­els at­tract a $1500 pre­mium. GT-Line ver­sions are eas­ily iden­ti­fied by the hon­ey­comb front grille flanked by boomerang-shaped day­time run­ning lights, 17-inch al­loy wheels and a re­vised chas­sis and sus­pen­sion tune. Be­yond the heated leather seats, the Pre­mium Pack adds a sun­roof, re­vers­ing cam­era and driver as­sis­tance soft­ware.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The driv­e­trains carry over, mak­ing the Vi­sio soft­ware the big­gest in­no­va­tion in the facelifted Me­ganes. The sys­tem uses wind­screen-mounted cam­eras to scan the road ahead, au­to­mat­i­cally switch­ing the head­lights from high to low beam if it de­tects ap­proach­ing lights, the tail-lights of a car ahead or street lights in­di­cat­ing the ve­hi­cle is in an ur­ban area. There is a lane-de­par­ture warn­ing chime if it de­tects the Megane cross­ing white lines.

DE­SIGN

The ex­te­rior styling still looks con­tem­po­rary from any an­gle. In­side, the lay­out has some ob­vi­ous short­com­ings against the com­pe­ti­tion— in­clud­ing a marked ab­sence of cuphold­ers — the sin­gle drink stowage nes­tles at the front edge of the cen­tre con­sole so tall bot­tles or large cups of cof­fee, can block ac­cess to some of the con­trols for the au­dio. The over­hauled sound sys­tem is op­er­ated with a log­i­cal joy­stick/but­ton set-up be­tween the seats.

Seats are won­der­fully com­fort­able but the ped­als are slightly off­set to the right, not hugely, and driv­ers ad­just swiftly. The wheel ad­justs for reach and height but Cars­guide sus­pects the in­clined in­stru­ment panel may be prone to re­flec­tions with the sun­roof open. A road test will tell.

Rear legroom is mod­est to the point not many adults will be pre­pared to spend much time there. That’s com­mon in small cars so it’s more of a cau­tion than a crit­i­cism.

SAFETY

Re­nault stacks up well on the safety front. ANCAP rates it a five-star and it earned a score of 35.83/37, with the lo­cal crash-tester not­ing of the off­set test: The pas­sen­ger com­part­ment held its shape well . . . slight risk of se­ri­ous chest in­jury for the driver.’’ Six airbags are stan­dard and the fun­da­men­tals— steer­ing, chas­sis and brakes— are good enough to avoid most prob­lems in the first place.

DRIV­ING

The driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence has been as sharply honed as the price on the GT-Line Me­ganes.

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