- Grunty and torquey
- Above average interior
- A bit pricey
- Can be a harsh ride
Our Renault Megane GT 200 review reveals a rapid, hugely enjoyable and relatively practical hot hatch. Ben Griffin elaborates…
Being the middle child is never easy, especially if your younger brother is the hugely successful standard Megane and your older brother the critically acclaimed Renaultsport 275. Fortunately Renault’s latest entry into the Megane range can stand on its own four wheels.
There’s just one small problem. The hot-hatch category the GT 220 lives in includes the Seat Leon Cupra, Ford Focus ST, VW Golf R and Renault’s own track weapon. Can the Frenchie really compete with such fierce competition?
The Renault GT 220 comes in three flavours; sport tourer, hatch and the coupe tested here, which is lower, has two fewer doors and is the definitely the easiest on the eye. It has more aggressive bodystyling than the standard car and a 12mm lower ride, helping it look slightly more sporty.
From the front it’s mean yet somehow still quite understated, while the trademark love-it-or-hate-it rear end is present and correct. There’s no denying it’s a pretty car – one that expertly treads a fine line between boy racer-esque and graceful.
Those looks do come at a cost. The rear windows are very small and checking your blindspot is like looking through the eye of a needle, while the slightly sloping roof means members of the 6ft-tall club won’t have much headroom in the rear, nor legroom for that matter.
The rear seats don’t fold flat, but we managed to get a 2m Ikea flatpack in the boot without any hassle. A very usable 372 litres of space can be had with the rear seats up. There are also plenty of cubby holes around the cabin.
“There’s no denying it’s a pretty car – one that expertly treads a fine line between boy racer-esque and graceful.”The angled speed dial makes it a tad hard to know if you’re doing the exact speed limit or not, while working out how to cancel the navigation could have been a challenge on The Crystal Maze.
You can control the touchscreen infotainment system using a dial between the front seats but it’s needlessly tedious. The user-interface itself is also a bit of a pain as it takes at least three button presses to set a destination in the satnav, but at least the 7-inch screen is bright, clear and responsive.
Performance & handling
Discard any notion the GT 220 is just another hatchback with aluminium pedals and go-faster stripes. The 2.0-litre engine under the bonnet has been plucked from the 271bhp Renaultsport 275 and detuned to 217bhp.
Its 7.6-second 0-62mph sprint sounds slow in this day and age for a hot-hatch (the Focus ST takes 1.1 seconds less time), but the reality is it feels easily fast enough.
A meaty 340Nm of torque begins to kick in around 2,500rpm – not far off the the 296bhp Golf R’s 379Nm. The 149mph top speed is plenty fast enough to help you lose your driving license.
The Megane GT 220 can still lazily overtake most cars without breaking a sweat, but you will need to work the gears to really wring out its peak performance. If not, there are times where it takes a second for the turbo to wind up.
“This car’s suspension is better suited to helping it nudge apexes at breakneck speeds rather than keeping your cans of Coke from fizzing up.”Unsurprisingly for a front-wheel drive car, the GT 220 is a bit of a handful when you really gun it, thanks to the lack of a limited-slip differential and oodles of torque steer, but it’s loads of fun and perfectly manageable in the dry.
The ride is firmer than in the standard Megane, but less likely to damage your spine than the 275 model. But only just. This car’s suspension is better suited to helping it nudge apexes at breakneck speeds rather than keeping your cans of Coke from fizzing up on the way back from the supermarket, so expect harshness on really uneven roads.
There could be more feeling through the steering, and this discourages really throwing it into a corner too fast, but the quick responses and minimal body roll makes it feel agile and confidence-inspiring. It never throws up any surprises.
Sporty, huggy seats keep you firmly in place when you take on the bends at speed, while the relatively long-throw gearbox could be snappier but it’s only a minor gripe as you can still shift through the gears in satisfyingly rapid fashion.
Economy & environment
If there’s one positive side-effect of losing power over the top model, it’s the slight improvement in fuel economy to 38.7mpg, while CO2 emissions drop to 169g/km – a byproduct of the stop/start system, which cuts the engine when you come to a halt.
Those figures are in line with the Focus ST’s 39.2mpg and 169g/km and the Seat Leon Cupra’s 42.8mpg and 154g/km. Not that any of the cars are likely to see these figures because of the nature of fuel economy tests and because… who drives a hot-hatch slowly?
Equipment & value
The Renault GT 220 is underpinned by the GT Line TomTom’s spec. Starting at £24,245 for the Coupe, it somewhat justifies its higher price with standard extras. Satnav is exceptionally handy, as is hill-start assist and push-button engine start with keyless entry, although the ‘key’ is horribly plasticy.
18-inch alloys and a rather fetching shade of grey on the door mirrors, which electronically retract when you lock the car, are also nice additions. Let’s also not forget Renault’s four-year/100,000 mile warranty, dual-zone climate control, daytime running lights and an uprated Arkamys sound system for some block-rocking beats.
Our test car also benefits from the leather pack+, which adds height adjustability and heating to the front sports seats, making them potentially more comfortable than they are as standard.
The optional and rather fetching Malta Blue paintjob seen here is especially complimentary, but you could go on holiday for the £625 extra it costs.
Six airbags and a rear-view parking camera help with the safety aspect of the GT 220. The standard facelifted Megane only managed three out of five stars in the Euro NCAP test so there are safer cars out there, it must be said.
Tepid. Luke warm. You could easily think the mid-way point between the cold Megane and the boiling hot Renaultsport 275 would be a copout, but the reality is anything but. Draw a line between the two models and the GT 220 is much closer to its far more expensive brother.
Where the GT 220 falls down hardest, besides the slightly pokey rear passenger space, is value for money. It’s more expensive than the entry-level Focus ST, while the lightning-quick and more practical Golf R is just £4,000 extra.
But here’s the thing. What the GT 220 lacks in numbers on paper it more than makes up for with boundless enthusiasm and a sense it just wants you to make each journey fun. You can only grin like an idiot when the throaty turbocharged 4-cylinder howls at you.
It is, therefore, not the wisest choice, but it deserves consideration if you want hot-hatch fun in a stylish package. Shop around for a good deal and we doubt you will look back. Apart from when you begrudgingly park it up and walk away.
|Engine||2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Acceleration||0 to 62mph in 7.6 seconds|
|Emissions||169g/km of CO2|
|Price||From £24,245 (Coupe)|