You can count with one hand the number of wagons that are on offer from the more than sixty brands in Australia. And if you eliminated the less affordable premium marques, you are left with just the Renault Megane Wagon, Holden Astra Wagon, Volkswagen Golf Wagon and its twin-under-the-skin, the Skoda Octavia Wagon. Neither of the Volkswagen Group pair nor the Astra are as distinctive or well proportioned as the Megane Wagon.
Dressed in a Glacier White paint job, the GT-Line is one down from the Renault Sport-tweaked and sports flavoured GT, and uses a 97kW/205Nm 1.2-litre turbocharged four instead of the GT’s punchier 151kW/280Nm 1.6-litre turbo.
Priced from $33,990 plus on-road costs, the GT-Line is $6,000 cheaper than the GT. Besides a 54kW/75Nm deficit from the smaller engine, the GT-Line also eschews the GT’s unique 4CONTROL four-wheel steering, launch control, Renault Sport-tuned suspension and brakes, R.S. Drive button and a few other accoutrement.
While 54kW and 75Nm can sometimes mean a gulf of difference in straight-line performance, the GT-Line is anything but lacking. Unless you drive both models back-to-back, the GT-Line is deceptively lively and energetic with good get-up-and-go. You may still want to think twice before challenging the boy racer in the souped up hot hatch for a traffic light grand prix, but the nippy little 1.2-litre turbo does a commendable job of hauling the practical, yet relaxed and comfortable wagon around in most situations, while returning 7.3L/100km on test.
Similarly, unless you are channelling your inner Alain Prost, the GT-Line’s more cosseting suspension means it feels best on the freeway where the cabin is relatively quiet and the one-piece sports seats comfortable and supportive.
As you would expect, it isn’t as flat around the bends as the GT, leaning more on its outer front wheel when cornering but it’s handling is responsive, predictable and balanced. There is decent feedback from the steering wheel telling you where the pointy nose is headed and the steering isn’t overly heavy. This bodes well for inner city parking, too, where the GT-Line is easily manoeuvred into its space.
What comes as a surprise, though, is the engine noise. Not the right kind, sadly. The insistent clattering at idle makes it sound suspiciously like a diesel! And I’m not alone in this, as a friend thought the same while standing outside the car. It is the same when seated inside the car, although masked somewhat by the hilarious configurable engine sound that seems to have been lifted from the PlayStation.
Funny noises aside, Renault’s EDC dual-clutch transmission also feels a generation behind those from the VW Group or even Hyundai, feeling hesitant and jerky at crawling speeds and stop start traffic. Once on the move though, the drivetrain is generally smooth.
Renault’s latest design is distinctive without being polarising. The new Megane range is one of the most stylish on the market today and the wagon is no exception. The proportions are good although the massive C-shaped LED DRLs are a little over the top. The standout design to my eyes is the rear light treatment with what Renault calls “Edge Lighting” that marches towards the badge in the centre, giving the car a wide stance and unique signature.
Inside, the interior styling is a little more subdue and characterised by the 8.7-inch portrait style infotainment screen. Build quality is good overall but below par in some areas, especially those that you don’t interact much with such as the lower areas of the doors. There’s also minor rattling from the sunroof blind in our test car.
While French counterpart, Peugeot has got their interior fit and finish pretty much spot on these days, Renault still has a bit of work to do. The infotainment screen surround is a magnet for fingerprints and climate control knobs look like they were from a $2 shop.
Happily, the ambience gets better as night falls, thanks to the customisable LED strip lighting on the doors and centre console with its myriad of colours to suit your mood – just like much more expensive cars.
Ergonomics are generally good and the much-criticised remote volume dongle behind the steering wheel works well once familiarised. The only issue I encountered was constantly resting my left hand on the flush fitting volume up ‘button’ when adjusting the air-con vent which is next to it, resulting in sudden, heart-stopping night club level of noise.
Passenger space is generous in the Megane Wagon, especially the superior rear headroom courtesy of the taller wagon roof. The alcantara suede upholstered seats are comfortable and decently supportive, too.
Practicality is the Megane’s forte and behind that stylish rump hides 580-litres of boot space, which is expandable to 1,267-litres with the seats tumbled forward. There’s also a height and depth dividable boot floor for a flat load bay, or alternatively, as a separator to divide the boot in half so that smaller items don’t roll around too much.
- READ MORE: Renault Megane Full Specification
Design and Comfort: 7.0/10
Performance and Handling: 7.0/10
Features and Equipment: 8.0/10
If you are anti-SUV and in the market for a practical and comfortable mid-size wagon, then the stylish Renault Megane Wagon GT-Line should be on your shopping list.
It’s not as quick or dynamic as the GT and trades some of its cornering prowess for cruising comfort, but you are also ahead by $6,000 while loosing non of wagon’s looks and feature packed boot.
- Distinctive good looks
- Decent ride and handling
- Cool Tesla-style portrait infotainment screen
- Dull interior design
- Some below par fit and finishes
2018 Renault Megane Wagon GT-Line pricing and specification
|Pricing (Excluding on-road costs):
As tested: $35,480*
Premium Pack ($1,490):
· Pure Vision LED headlights
· 8.7-inch navigation and multimedia system
· 12-speakers BOSE audio system
|Country of Origin:
|France. Manufactured in Spain
|1.2-litre turbocharged in-line four-cylinder petrol:
97kW @ 4,500rpm, 205Nm @ 2,000rpm
|Power-to-Weight ratio (W/kg):
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):
|Claimed: 5.4/Tested: 7.3
|Fuel Capacity (L):
|· ANCAP not rated
· 6 airbags
· Reverse camera
· Front and rear parking sensors
· Blind spot monitoring
· Tyre pressure monitoring
· Park assist
· Full size spare wheel
· 2x ISOFIX
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:
|Turning Circle Between Kerbs:
|Kerb Weight (kg):
|Boot Space (min/max) (L):
|Towing Capacity (kg):
|Braked: 1,300/Unbraked: 705
|· 8.7-inch colour touchscreen
· AM/FM Radio
· iPod connectivity