Renault Megane GT 220 review
Renault hopes to inject a new lease of life into the aging Megane with GT 220 warm hatch
The Megane GT 220 is great to drive, thanks to its Renaultsport roots. It has a gutsy engine and a great chassis, plus it's a practical car. Age counts against the Megane now, though. It's not as refined as more modern rivals, it's thirsty and the styling could be more exciting to match the driving experience.
Released in 2008, the Mégane is showing its age, but Renault hopes to keep the family hatch fresh with this £23,250 GT 220 version – a half-way house between the normal car and the sizzling Renaultsport hot hatch.
The Mégane’s design might be a bit long in the tooth, but this enhanced GT 220 version is great to drive. That’s because Renaultsport has tuned the chassis, carrying over the Mégane RS’s suspension settings.
The car is much firmer as a result, so it doesn’t ride calmly, but point the tweaked Mégane down a bumpy, undulating back road and the stiffer set-up comes into its own. It feels tied down, and the detailed feedback through the steering and chassis inspire confidence to push harder.
The Renault is powered by a 2.0-litre turbo engine, which gives good performance. There's plenty of punch from this engine, with 340Nm of torque being available early on.
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It’s also accompanied by a devilishly rorty soundtrack as you rev the engine hard. The Mégane is quick to accelerate through the gears from 30-70mph, while the braking system – lifted from the hottest Renaultsport Mégane – means this GT 220 edition stops very well, although the pedal felt soft and mushy after a few hard stops.
The Renault feels edgy and alert all of the time. It’s still quite refined at speed, but the GT 220 doesn’t feel as calm when cruising. It’s not uncomfortable, but long distances in the Renault will leave you feeling tired.
On the outside, there are a few design touches to set it apart from the rest of the Mégane line-up, but even this facelifted car’s more slender headlights, silver plastic bumper inserts and 18-inch alloy wheels can’t sharpen up the bulbous shape.
Compared to newer rivals, the Mégane lacks visual impact – even though this is a compromise between a performance hatchback and a practical everyday family car, it could do with a bigger rear spoiler and deeper side skirts to toughen up the look.
It’s not all bad, though. There are a few extravagant design touches, including Renault’s oversized grille badge, bespoke GT 220 logos on the pillars, and silver mirror caps to brighten up the Mégane’s otherwise anonymous image.
Like the exterior, the cabin feels outdated. It’s a sea of plastic that Renault has tried to liven up with a carbon dash insert and some sportier seats. These do give plenty of support, and the contrasting red stitching is a nice touch.
The Mégane’s biggest problem is the old-school infotainment system. It has been updated with the same features as in the current Clio and Captur, but whereas those cars get a large, clear touchscreen, the control interface here is awkward. There are some neat features locked up in the Renault’s TomTom-based system – including the £500 Renaultsport Monitor if you spec it – but getting the most from them can prove frustrating.
The relatively featureless styling does mean the Mégane offers lots of room inside. Headroom is decent and access to the rear is easy thanks to the large doors that open wide.
The boot is a good size, too, at 405 litres, and there’s some extra storage under the floor even with the £95 optional space saver spare wheel.
Inside, storage is adequate, but there are some annoying quirks to the layout – the cup-holder is in an awkward position in front of the dash, and a big fusebox eats into glovebox room. The door bins are a useful shape, even in the back, with plenty of space for trinkets and other items.
Sat-nav, Bluetooth, cruise control (non-adaptive here), keyless go, parking sensors and a reversing camera all come as standard, although you’ll need to fork out an extra £250 for a DAB radio.
When it comes to efficiency, the Mégane lags behind more recent rivals, emitting 169g/km of CO2 even though it’s fitted with stop/start. This means a Benefit in Kind rate of 29 per cent, which bumps up company car costs to £2,565 for higher-rate tax payers.