Renault Megane GT 2016 Road Test

For its 2016 Megane, Renault couldn’t simply relaunch just another mid-size family 5-door. Without resorting to gimmicks, they had to make it both different and better in at least one respect from every other ‘C’ segment hatchback.

So they gave the ‘GT’ version four-wheel steering.

We’ve seen this before, of course. In the Honda Prelude, in the Nissan GTR, and in the Renault Laguna GT and Laguna coupe. We hadn’t seen it in a Focus class car.

What the system does is at speeds up to 50mph it turns the rear wheels slightly in the opposite direction to the front wheels. So it scoots round tight corners and hairpin bends with an alacrity unknown in this class of car.

Above 50mph the system, called ‘4Control’, turns the rear wheels slightly in the same direction as the fronts. So at higher speeds it literally feels as if it is cornering on rails. 

This not only makes it quicker round the bends. It also makes it safer, because the back wheels are turned in the direction the body of the car wants to go instead of being dragged slightly sideways in protest. I don’t expect to hear of any 2016 Renault Megane GTs disappearing through hedges backwards, unless a nutter gets hold of one.

Renault Megane 2016 GT F34 Blue

We drove it in the Neutral setting, but you can also select Comfort, Sport or ‘Perso’ in which you can customise the system to your own preferences.

So while other manufacturers have been extracting the fun from their family hatchbacks like dentists pulling teeth, Renault has found a way to put the fun back in. And, though only the GT gets ‘4Control’, there’s plenty of innovation to keep you happy in the rest of the new Megane range.

They’ve got rid of rubber bushes between the suspension and engine subframe and the body. All the cars are built on the new Renault-Nissan Alliance CMF platform that requires far fewer individual parts in the same manner as VAG’s MQB, making construction simpler and more consistent, and allowing technology from upper segment cars to be incorporated affordably.

Renault Megane 2016 R34 Road Silver

2016 Meganes steer better than other cars, making you feel more connected to the road, much in the manner of the RenaultSport Megane, but without the (sometimes) hard ride over poorly maintained road surfaces. Ride on the 225/45 R17 91W tyres was excellent while even the 225/40 R18 92V Continental Conti Sport tyres of the GT were quiet and unintrusive.

Renault has managed this without resorting to fully independent rear suspension. The rear arms are still connected by a torque tube and anti-roll bar, but the spring rates and damping are exactly right.

The 205PS turbo petrol engine of the GT pumps out 205PS at 6,000rpm and 280Nm torque at 2,400rpm, which seems a little high but works out fine. This gets to the road via a 7-speed ‘Efficient Dual Clutch’ transmission with paddles on the steering column. It’s fine left to make up its own mind, but if you want to play race-driver you can left-foot brake and whack it down a few ratios to your heart’s content.

Renault Megane GT And Megane 2016

The other engine we drove is our old friend, Renault’s quiet and advanced 1.6dCI 130 which we first saw in the Scenic back in 2010 and which has since earned an excellent reputation. Thankfully, in this installation, it doesn’t need SCR and AdBlue to get below the 0.08g/km Euro 6 NOx limit, so no worries on that score. 

It’s pleasant, punchy and amiable with 320Nm torque from 1,750rpm (20Nm more than Honda’s excellent 1.6iDTEC). But you need to get used to a lack of torque from very low rpm as the ECU tries to protect the rest of the drivetrain. The manual 6-speed gearchange is fine with no slop, so happy to accept ‘block changes’ from 6th to 3rd, for example.

Renault  Megane 2016 Dash

Inside the cars the main bit of new tech is the upright 8.7” touch-screen, a bit like a smaller version of the giant screen inside a Tesla. This doesn’t just display satnav directions, it also opens up menus enabling you to select or de-select features like a colour head-up display in the windscreen as well as the 4Control 4-wheel steering on the GT. It’s friendly and intuitive enough to use on the move.

You can also configure the 7” TFT (Thin Film Transistor) dash display right in front of you to show your speed digitally or as a fake analogue dial.

In 2017 a Hybrid Assist diesel-electric powertrain will be added to the Megane range, based on the Energy 1.5 dCi 110 engine. Renault is targeting a class-leading CO2 figure of 76g/km, with fuel economy in the NEDC combined cycle of more than 97mpg. The Hybrid Assist is provided by a 48-volt battery, which is topped up by energy recovery under deceleration and braking. The diesel engine remains in operation at all times.

The appeal of the new Megan’s styling is something you’ll judge for yourself, but the LED DRLs and distinctive ribbon taillights definitely stand out from the crowd at night.

Unfortunately, we have to wait until Summer 2016 before the 2016 Megane becomes available in the UK. Expect prices to start at about £18,000 for the 1.2 TCe 130PS Energy, rising to about £25,000 for the 1.6 TCe 205PS GT EDC.

It’s worth the wait.

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Renault Megane 2016 GT Tail Lights

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