LONG TERM FLEET
Hot-hatch Megane GT hates slow highways
Mark Smyth gets hot-headed over the Renault Megane GT
I am writing this report while in Mallorca, Spain. Granted, our long-term Renault Megane GT is parked at home while I am away but you would not believe how many of them are on this Balearic island off the coast of Spain. To give you an idea, over the few days I have been here, I have seen two Volkswagen Golfs, just two, but lost count of the number of Meganes by the end of the first day.
It’s not really a surprise though because Renault has often been the top-seller in the Spanish market, surpassing even the Spanish Volkswagen Group brand, Seat. For some reason the Spanish love French models because there are loads of Peugeots in the region too.
The Megane is easy to spot, with its distinctive c-shaped LED daytime running lights, athletic front and those fantastic rear lights. In fact the whole design is unique in the segment in a way that cannot be said about rivals like the Ford Focus, Kia Cerato and VW Golf. There’s bravery in the design, which I guess we expect of Renault.
Back to our long-termer though and it is the first time I have been spending much time with it. After recently going through a service I was expecting it to feel like new again, but sadly the dealership really did seem to have missed the issue with the brakes. They grind like carbon fibre discs after taking a hammering on a circuit. We may have to take it to another dealer to get them checked again.
Hopefully that is a minor thing to address but what is not so minor is the gearbox. I have been doing a lot of office commuting and the Megane GT has not been happy sitting in slow highway traffic. It is jerky and indecisive to the point where I found it easier to put it in Sport mode but then it holds the gear longer and when there is a slight gap the engine revs too high, forcing you to pull on those superbly designed metal paddles. The alternative is to whack it into manual mode, which gets rid of all the issues but is not the ideal situation when in stop-start highway traffic.
Another issue is one that will not apply to everyone, unless like me you are thinning a little on top. The screen beneath the sunroof does almost nothing to keep the heat out and on a couple of hot days recently, even the climate control was struggling to get the temperature down in the car. I was definitely hot-headed.
Heavy traffic is therefore not the best environment for the GT and with the car being returned to Renault SA later this month, it’s possible I might not find a sweet spot when it comes to settings for the commute.
But I have managed to get out of town a bit and then the Megane comes into its own, particularly if you want to be hot-headed. Switch it into Sport and manual mode and everything responds just the way you want it to.
The chassis is superb, the grip terrific. Thanks to the rear-wheel steering the accuracy of turning is almost unmatched.
Essentially at this stage I have to conclude that the Megane GT is a hot hatch that hates being stuck in traffic but relishes everything its engineers have given it when it comes to dynamics and performance. Maybe that was the plan.