The equipment list has also been overhauled, now featuring upmarket options including an 8.7in infotainment system. Exact pricing and specifications are yet to be confirmed, however, as we’re driving the car some six months before it’s due in the UK market.
Our first taste of the new range was in this flagship Mégane GT. It’s Renaultsport’s first interpretation of the new car and packs a host of upgrades that extend far beyond the cosmetic. Up front, for example, you’ll find a derivative of the powertrain found in the Clio Renaultsport 200.
That means you get a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol, producing 202bhp and 207lb ft, which drives the front wheels via a seven-speed EDC dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Renault claims a 0-62mph time of 7.1sec and a top speed of 145mph.
The GT benefits further from Renault’s ‘4Control’ active four-wheel steering system, launch control and a new ‘multi-change-down’ feature for the transmission. When braking, it allows you to skip multiple ratios in one hit, rather than having to work sequentially through them. The GT also features Renaultsport-tuned suspension, a faster-acting electrically assisted steering rack, bigger front discs and twin exhausts.
What's it like?
Initially, the new Mégane GT proves to be a charming car. There’s an air of quality to it, imbued by crisp lines, accurate panel gaps and doors that close with a solid feel. Similarly, the smartly styled rattle and squeak-free interior, trimmed with soft-touch materials in all the key places, lends the GT a high-end feel.
This positive impression continues to build when you head out on the road. It’s quiet, with only a little wind flutter from the front pillars at motorway speeds, and comfortable. That’s in part thanks to plush, supportive seats. Visibility is good, it’s simple to position on the road and its kerb-to-kerb turning circle of 10.4m undercuts many rivals.
Where it all goes a little south for the performance-focused GT, however, is with regards to its handling and performance. While its steering has adequate heft and precision for a powerful hatch, and is a snappy 2.3 turns lock-to-lock, there’s precious extra weighting in faster corners. There’s little feedback either, resulting in a numb, disassociated feeling.
At lower speeds the 4Control system permits the front and rear wheels to turn in opposite directions, effectively pivoting the car and improving agility. At higher speeds the wheels steer in the same direction, bolstering stability during high-speed lane changes.
On the motorway it’s a great benefit but on slower, more challenging roads, the GT's tail-steering effect can be too rapid, pronounced and disconcerting, making the Mégane’s responses harder to judge.
There’s plenty of front-end grip, however, and the body’s movements are controlled well, although many may find it softer than expected. Stopping power is decent, although a lack of pedal feel and well-defined bite detracts further from the GT’s focus.
A performance hatchback needs to have a suitably willing and evocative powertrain if it’s to be a true success, but the Clio RS 200’s turbocharged 1.6-litre engine and EDC transmission has never been particularly well received. Little has changed, so it remains similarly ho-hum here.