The $20,990 Megane Expression replaces the previous Dynamique as the entry point to the range. Although $2000 less expensive, gone from the equipment list are front fog lights and keyless auto entry, while 16-inch steel wheels with full wheel covers replace the previous alloys. Six airbags, stability control, cruise control and electrically-foldable door mirrors remain standard.
The carry-over 103kW 2.0-litre petrol four-cylinder engine now mates exclusively with the $2000-optional automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT), the standard six-speed manual version having been replaced by a new 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder from the Clio and Captur.
Full specifications for that engine are yet to be finalised - the entry-level manual is still a few weeks from going on sale - but in those other Renault models the engine produces 88kW at 4900rpm, and 190Nm at 2000rpm. Curiously, however, the engine is available only with a dual-clutch auto in Clio and Captur, yet for the time being is manual-exclusive in the Megane. Renault Australia says it expects to add a dual-clutch automatic to the range next year.
A new sports-style mid-range model, the Megane GT-Line, starts at $26,490 for the 2.0-litre automatic or $28,990 for the 81kW 1.5-litre diesel and six-speed dual-clutch auto. Renault says demand for manuals in mid-level models is low, according to its research, so opted for an auto-only line-up above the base grade.
Extra standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, fog lights, sports seats from the Megane RS, satellite navigation, keyless auto entry, leather steering wheel and gearknob, rear parking sensors, electric parking brake, LED daytime running lights and auto headlights and wipers.
In addition to sports styling tweaks and badging, the GT-Line also gets a sports chassis, a roll centre reduced by 30mm, and centre of gravity lowered by 112mm. Renault Sport retuned the springs and dampers, with calibration derived from the Megane RS 265 Sport chassis that isn’t currently offered in Australia.
A $3500 Premium Pack is available on GT-Line, adding grey leather trim, panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, a rear armrest with cupholders, front parking sensors, rear camera, and ‘Visio’ – Renault’s auto-dip headlight and lane departure warning system.
The carry-over Megane Privilege is also available for the same $29,990 (petrol) or $32,490 (diesel) as the GT-Line Premium. It gets the same equipment, but with black leather seats, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat, rear-seat air vents, the standard chassis and luxury-oriented styling.
Renault has also introduced the Megane wagon line-up, starting at $26,490 for the entry level Dynamique 2.0-litre petrol auto. Compared with the entry hatchback, the Expression, the wagon-backed Dynamique gets 16-inch alloys, fog lights, dual-zone climate control, auto headlights and wipers, and a leather steering wheel and gearknob.
The Megane wagon is also available in GT-Line and GT-Line Premium (but not Privilege) specification, in petrol or diesel, for $1500 over the respective hatchback price.
Added as a limited edition flagship is the Renault Megane GT220 sport wagon for $36,990, or $41,990 for the Premium Pack. It includes a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, detuned from the Megane RS hot hatch to 162kW and 340Nm, in addition to 18-inch alloys, RS Monitor and RS-tuned Sport chassis.
Australia-bound production of the Renault Megane hatchback range moves from Turkey to Spain, as the GT-Line models are only produced in the latter factory. Renault Australia says it wanted to have sports-tuned models in the Renault Megane line-up from an early stage, and admits that it had a plan to bring them to Australia earlier.
Despite many manufacturers launching sub-$20,000 entry models, such as the $18,990 Nissan Pulsar, $19,490 Holden Cruze and $19,990 Toyota Corolla – the former two which get standard alloys over the Megane – Renault argues they are not direct rivals.
The company insists the Megane is a more ‘premium’ offering - despite the lower equipment level - which undercuts other European manufactured competition such as the ($500 dearer) Volkswagen Golf 90TSI and ($3000 more expensive) Opel Astra.