RENAULT MEGANE GT-LINE
Renault and Peugeot go toe-to-toe in a French hatch match. Richard Blackburn awards a winner.
The new Megane GT-Line is $4500 more than the previous generation — and $10,000 more than the cheapest Megane — but comes with plenty of gear to justify the hike. There are front, side and rear parking sensors, satnav, dual-zone aircon, a sunroof and changeable ambient lighting. Warranty period is generous at 5 years/unlimited km. Capped servicing is due every 12 months/30,000km and is good value at $897.
The cabin has a sporty feel, thanks to heavily bolstered alcantara and leather seats with blue highlights. Blue carbon fibre highlights on the dash and door inserts add to the theatre, as does the digital speedo readout which can be configured differently depending on tastes. You can choose from five ambient colours and there are alloy pedals. Our car came with an optional tablet-style centre console that looked upmarket but was a bit fiddly to navigate.
It’s small and the power output is modest but the little 1.2-litre turbo has enough grunt for a lively drive. Initial response is good and a sport button allows you to change the throttle sensitivity, gear change points and steering settings. It also gives the engine note more growl.
Hasn’t been crashed locally but has six airbags and scored five stars in European tests. Misses out on automatic emergency braking but has blind spot warning and reversing camera.
Around town the dual-clutch auto can be jerky and the suspension struggles to absorb bumps. At speed, the ride is just as lumpy and there’s plenty of road noise. More disconcerting, though, is the way the front suspension gets floaty over bigger bumps. The car never feels comfortable or balanced on back roads.