SMALLER is bigger these days and in the case of Renault’s Megane, the body language says it’s a 2.0 litre, and it certainly goes like a 2.0 – but under its bonnet is an engine almost half of what one would expect: a 1.2 turbo.
That was one of the surprises in the Megane Wagon GT-Line, the middle one of the three-model range.
Another was the spare wheel, which looked smaller than most space savers, but hey, it’s a French car and the tricolor folk are known for la creativite.
Turned out it wasn’t a wheel at all. Under that neat round cover was a big Bose sub-woofer, part of the $1490 optional premium pack on the $33,490 vehicle.
Turns out that if you don’t specify the premium kit, you do get a full-sized space saver, but if you do, the wheel becomes an inflation kit. Magique, non?
The wagon is a real beauty, with sporty lines and a definitive ‘look at moi’ attitude on the road.
Most minds would immediately put it in the circa $50K bracket, so the actual mid-30s price is a bon surprise.
Standard features include six airbags, stability control, Hill Start Assist, electronic park brake, front and rear parking sensors, rear view camera, R-Link 2 multimedia system with satellite navigation and a seven-inch touchscreen.
There’s also a perfectly good eight-speaker Arkamys audio system and auto-on headlights and wipers.
The GT-Line adds stuff like emergency braking, blind spot warning, adaptive cruise control and distance warning, side parking sensors, easy park assist, an 8.7 inch touchscreen and an instrument panel with a colour TFT screen that can be personalised, Alcantara utrim, 17-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass and an electric panoramic sunroof.
It also gets Multi-Sense, which gives the driver five colour-coded modes to choose from: blue for Comfort, green for Eco, red for Sport, sepia for Neutral and purple for Personalised.
Each mode adjusts engine and transmission response, steering effort, even engine tone. Oui, the kind of things you might expect in a $50K-plus vehicle.
And the ambient lighting in the cabin at night is just lovely – and adjustable.
So it’s a pretty complete package.
Quite spacious too, and unless you need a higher seating position for your crook back, an attractive alternative to an SUV.
There are bolstered and heated sports seats in front, a 60/40 split-fold rear bench with armrest and cup holders. The cargo space is 580 litres, expandable to more than 1500 litres.
Driving it is a bit different.
The 97 kW/205 Nm engine is more than adequate for most needs, reaching 100 km/h in about 11.5 seconds and up to 200km/h if you find an auto route on your meanderings.
There’s a rather sudden lurch on take off, which you soon get accustomed to after to, but the ‘efficient’ 7-speed dual clutch (auto) gearbox gives quick, super-smooth shifts through the range and helps the wagon achieve its good fuel consumption figures.
Renault claims 6.2 litres/100 km on the combined cycle, and we achieved that on an hour-long run at a steady speed on the freeway. Yes, it was on a Sunday.
The Megane has a balanced, planted feel on the road and a quick steering that will please drivers who enjoy a bit of decent handling in their vehicles.
Visibiliy is good, there’s a fine reversing camera, sonar front, sides and rear and another commendable features is its quiet interior.
Noise has long been a bugbear of wagons, but Renault has done a great job keeping road and mechanical racket down to a whisper.
And let’s not forget it comes with a five-year unlimited distance warranty.
Verdict: The Megane GT-Line is a delightful machine, well worth the extra dollars over the base Zen. I wouldn’t bother with the premium pack and its hotshot audio and ‘pure vision’ headlights. I’d rather have a spare wheel, even though punctures seem to be a thing of decades past.
- Comprehensively equipped
- Fuel economy
- Multi-mode drive choices
- Mighty Mouse motor
- Good looks
- Lurchy launch