2018 Renault Megane Estate GT review: the people's quickish wagon
As it turns out, you can drive your family around in a non-boring and rather affordable way
Ever since Audi and Porsche teamed up to build the RS2 Avant in 1992, fast wagons have become a thing, and for good reason.
We see it as a no-brainer now, but back then not many carmakers thought about combining the practicality of the estate body style with the performance of a sports car in one package. Thankfully, after the RS2 many companies jumped on the bandwagon and started rolling out fast estate cars.
As a result of that competition, we now have affordable performance estate models to choose from, something that wasn’t possible 30 years ago when only few upscale models were given the fast wagon treatment. One of the quick estate cars that won’t break the bank is the Renault Megane Estate GT, also known as Megane Grandtour GT (Germany), Megane Sporter GT (Italy) or Megane Sport Tourer GT (UK).
It’s essentially the Megane wagon fitted with the powertrain from the Megane GT warm hatch. Before analyzing the car in detail, let me point out the obvious and say the Megane Estate is one of the most beautiful models in its segment, a fact that becomes most apparent if you order it in the sporty GT trim.
Renault designers found the perfect balance between elegance and aggressiveness, something that is really hard to achieve — especially with a wagon. Our tester’s dynamic body kit, Iron Blue paint, and sports seats came together seamlessly in a package that is both cool and unassuming. Well done, Renault.
The Megane Estate GT may be very convincing visually, but is it as strong in the departments that count the most for customers in the market for this sort of car? I’m talking about driving experience and practicality, of course. Let’s find out.
Recommended for:familiesdriving nuts
Created for:highwayswinding roads
Hats off for:passenger spaceluggage spacecomfortroad handlingengine powersafety
Bang for the buck:good
As with its hatchback sibling, the Megane Estate GT is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that makes 205 metric horsepower (202 bhp) at 6,000 rpm and 280 Nm (207 lb-ft) of torque from 2,400 rpm.
A standard seven-speed EDC dual-clutch automatic channels torque to the front wheels, and comes with paddle shifters that are fixed to the steering column and don’t turn with the steering wheel so that you’ll always know where to find them mid-corner — nice touch, Renault Sport. The gearbox shifts through gears smoothly in Neutral and Comfort mode but is most enjoyable and quickest when put in Sport with the lever in manual. Driving around town in Sport mode is not recommended, though, because the transmission will keep the engine revved unnecessarily high and you may look like a fool from the outside.
Now, the engine itself is not mind-blowing, even though we’re talking about a Renault Sport-developed unit that’s probably closely related to the unit in the Clio RS (Renault doesn’t admit that officially). The claimed 0-100 km/h time is 7.4 seconds, but the Megane Estate GT feels a bit slower than that. Blame the good sound insulation and overall laid-back character of the car for it. Top speed is 230 km/h (143 mph).
Another standard feature sourced from the Megane GT hatch is the 4Control four-wheel-steering chassis. While I’m not a big fan of this technology, I have to say I’ve enjoyed it more than on the regular Megane GT — partly because it makes more sense on a longer car like the Estate (it improves maneuverability in tight spaces), and partly because it doesn’t feel as intrusive as in the hatch.
Unexpectedly for a car that feels remarkably refined and comfortable, the Megane Estate GT can bite: floor it from rest, and you’ll find yourself with plenty of torque steer on your hands. Renault Sport’s wagon likes to go fast through corners, though, and you can feel that from behind the wheel: the steering is precise and offers plenty of feedback for an EPAS, especially in Sport mode.
While the behavior in corners is predictable and safe, the longer wheelbase and greater mass (it’s at least 38 kg heavier than the hatch) take a toll on handling. There’s slightly more body roll and less agility in turns, but those are small prices to pay for the Megane Estate GT’s added practicality.
Euro NCAP hasn’t tested the wagon version of the Megane, but it has assessed the hatchback model in 2015 and awarded it a maximum five-star overall rating. We’ve no reason to believe the same score doesn’t apply to the Megane Estate as well since the cars share the same platform and safety systems.
The Megane is one of the safest cars in its class, with Euro NCAP giving it an 88-percent rating for adult occupant protection, 87 percent for child occupants, 71 percent for pedestrians, and 71 percent for safety assist systems. Standard safety features including ABS, ESP, hill-start assist, eight airbags, tire pressure monitoring system, and Isofix latches on the rear seat. The GT trim level further improves safety via the standard full-LED Pure Vision headlights and rear parking sensors.
Given the abundance of Renault Sport badges on this car, I didn’t expect a comfortable ride, but I’m glad to say I was wrong. The ride quality is spot on, striking just the right balance between plush damping and the firmness necessary for sharp handling.
The only instance you’d wish to be in a more comfortable car is when encountering sharp bumps, but not even that is a deal-breaker. Our tester had optional 18-inch “Magny Cours” alloys shod with 225/40 tires, but the standard 17-inch rims with 205/50 rubber should provide additional damping and better ride quality. The standard bucket seats are very comfy and supportive in corners, and the driving position is spot on. The car proves to be quite refined as well, with reasonable levels of wind, tire, and engine noise entering the cabin — except when you put it Sport mode and the car feels the need to release some fake engine sound through the speakers.
The cabin is a mixed bag when it comes to quality, although the Megane Estate GT fares better than lesser Meganes in this respect. The fast wagon scores big points thanks to the mix of Alcantara and fake leather on the seats, the leather-wrapped steering wheel with big, metallic paddle shifters, and the soft plastic covering the upper half of the dashboard.
The hard plastics that cover the lower half of the dashboard and door panels are scratchy and look cheap, though, and I’m not a big fan of the trim pieces on the dash and door panels either. Their blue color may echo the car’s exterior paint, but the fact remains they’re not carbon fiber even though they try to emulate the look. The ambient lighting that changes with the selected driving mode makes the interior look more upscale, especially at night.
Since we’re talking about a station wagon, it goes without saying that there is plenty of room inside for passengers and their luggage. Passenger space is significantly improved over the previous-generation Megane Estate thanks to the longer wheelbase and wider body, but the rear seat may not be the ideal place for three adult passengers on longer trips.
That’s because the taller middle seat offers less headroom than the outer seats, and the transmission tunnel seriously eats into legroom. The other two passengers sit much more comfortably, although there isn’t that much space for their feet under the front seats. One does not feel the need for more storage spaces, with the door cards, the glovebox, and the space under the front armrest being roomy enough. There are four cupholders in total, two for each row of seats.
At 580 liters, cargo volume is generous for the segment, but some rivals do offer more: the Peugeot 308 SW boasts 660 liters and the Skoda Octavia Combi 610 liters. However, the Megane Estate compensates with tricks like the adjustable floor height, cargo dividers, and hooks to keep your groceries upright. Not to mention the class-leading loading area of 2.7 meters with the rear and front passenger seats folded down, in which case the Megane Estate can swallow 1,504 liters of stuff (VDA norm).
The R-Link 2 infotainment system is an old acquaintance of ours, and in our test car it came in the top version featuring an 8.7-inch tablet-like display. The touchscreen is responsive and intuitive, but the graphics are starting to look a bit dated. Furthermore, it can be distracting to operate during driving, and chances are that might happen often as the interface controls pretty much everything.
For example, you need to use it to access some functions of the climate control system. Renault did fit separate physical dials and buttons for temperature adjustment, Auto mode, quick defogging, and air recirculation, but to set fan speed on your own or turn off the air conditioning you have to use the touchscreen. The customizable digital display in the instrument panel is a neat touch, though.
The combination between the 1.6-liter turbocharged gasoline engine and the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic is not particularly fuel-efficient. Renault claims the Megane Estate GT will average 6 l/100 km, but after driving it for about 350 km, both in and out of the city (in a 75 percent extra-urban/25 percent urban mix), the trip computer read 9.2 l/100 km.
Of course, fuel efficiency varies with driving style, outside temperature and traffic, so it’s entirely possible to get better mileage from the Megane Estate GT. However, we don’t think averaging 6 l/100 km is possible in real-world driving conditions. If that’s a deal-breaker for you, you should know Renault offers a diesel alternative for the Energy TCe 205 EDC. It’s a 1.6-liter unit marketed as the GT Energy dCi 165 EDC that promises to return 4.7 l/100 km. Although it delivers more torque (380 Nm vs. 280 Nm), it’s slightly slower than the gasoline-powered model: 0-100 km/h takes 8.9 seconds, and top speed is 214 km/h. Choosing between the two engine options depends on your priorities.
As a range-topping model, the GT comes well-equipped with standard features such as the 4Control chassis, full-LED headlights, heated sports seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, the R-Link 2 infotainment system with 7-inch touchscreen, keyless entry, 17-inch rims, and more.
Our test car had optional extras worth more than €4,400, and those included the upgraded R-Link 2 with an 8.7-inch touchscreen, 18-inch alloys, panoramic sunroof, head up display, metallic paint, and the “Easy Parking” and “Drive Safely” packs. Not all are essential, but if it were our money at stake, we’d get the optional portrait-oriented touchscreen and the safety pack, which includes adaptive cruise control, traffic sign recognition, lane departure warning, automatic high beam, emergency braking assist, and safe distance warning.
If what you’ve read so far convinced you to give the Megane Estate GT a look, you should be ready to pay €30,190 for a base version of the fast wagon (in Germany). Our Romanian-spec car had a base price of €25,900, driven to €30,330 with the optional extras.
However, you can get if for less than that — for example, the manufacturer gives a €1,300 discount for the Megane Estate GT, and you could get some more rebates from dealerships as well. The diesel-powered model is slightly more expensive but slower, defeating the purpose of a “fast wagon.” If you want to look elsewhere for a similar model, you’ll be surprised to learn there aren’t that many in this price range.
The closest competitor would be the Opel Astra Sports Tourer with the 200-hp 1.6-liter turbo engine, which is priced from €29,645 in Dynamic trim with the six-speed automatic transmission. Other options would be the 245-hp Skoda Octavia Combi RS, the 225-hp Peugeot 308 SW GT, and the diesel-only, 184-hp VW Golf GTD Variant, but all are about around five grand more expensive than the Renault.