First DriveThe new Renault Megane GT 220 is essentially a toned-down version of the hallowed Renaultsport 275, but does it have the required DNA?
First DriveFacelifted range-topping Mégane features revised styling and tweaked chassis, but ergonomic flaws and a substantial price tag dent its overall appeal
What is it?
It's the latest warm hatch to join what's becoming an increasingly crowded area of the market. Designed to fit between the bread-and butter Meganes and the extreme RenaultSport versions, (particularly the new R26 edition with a limited-slip diff), the Megane GT is available as both a petrol and a diesel.
That means it can take on rivals like VW's supercharged Golf GT and Peugeot's 3067 HDi oil-burner.
The engines on offer are a 163bhp low-pressure turbo petrol unit, and a 148bhp DCi diesel that's previously seen use in the Laguna. They are both available in three- and five-door layouts (SportHatch and Hatch in Renault-speak).
The GT's set-up has been designed for enthusiastic drivers who don’t want the extreme Renaultsport suspension, so while it gets stiffer springs, (24 per cent stiffer than regular) they are more pliable than those fitted to the R26. Stiffer front and rear anti-roll bars, revised shock absorbers, a lower bodyshell (by 10mm), changes to the electric power steering and new front dampers complete the picture.
What's it like?
Not bad at all, actually. The petrol engine feels willing enough, and the low-pressure turbo means it never reaches that awkward juxtaposition of turbo lag and hefty kerbweight. In fact, it barely feels like a turbocharged car at all, although the engine note isn't particularly fragrant higher up the rev range.
The electric power steering is smooth if a little vague, and the six-speed gearbox is slick. The GT's handling is no match for the top-handling hot hatches, but then it's not meant to be. And Renault's engineers seem to have found a decent balance between stiffness and ride quality. This is not an unpleasant car in which to cruise along.
Inside, the Megane feels a little ordinary. But at least it gets a reasonable amount of basic kit. 17in alloys, auto headlights and wipers, electric heated door mirrors, electric front and rear windows, ESP, traction control and CSV understeer control are all standard,
Should I buy one?
You could do far worse. It certainly doesn't feel noticeably slower than the Golf GT and with the petrol SportHatch weighing in at £16,170, it undercuts its German rival by the thick end of £2k. In this area of the market, figures talk.