I was looking for a sports wagon with space for some luggage and a bike in the back for weekend getaways, and fun to drive (aka some performance capabilities), coming from an Alfa Romeo 147 GTA that became too small (but what an engine). The proposition would be under $41K, and I shortlisted the Skoda Octavia RS wagon, the Renault Megane GT 220 and the Golf Wagon R, which ended up being out of the price range.
The Renault was less known and the GT 220 was in limited numbers and a manual proposition only, which suits me better. Renault offered a five-year warranty and three years' capped-price servicing, which was better than the Skoda. A manual Skoda wasn't easily available, meaning a discount over the RRP was almost non-existent, and the selection of the Megane GT 220 wagon was a natural and easy choice.
Two versions are available, and I selected the Premium, which added a dual sunroof with only the front one able to be open, and Visio System that enables a lane-departure warning as well as automatic high/low beam (uses a camera at the windscreen). It also includes a 7.0-inch screen with TomTom navigation and the R-Link RS Monitor 2.0 that provides a number of data screens for power, brake pressure, acceleration, G-forces, and is very easy to use.
The engine is the same as the RS 265 Megane 2.0-litre turbo (detuned to 220hp/161kW) and the six-speed manual transmission makes for a great combination. The vehicle has the chassis and suspension modified by Renault Sports, so it is firm but not uncomfortable, even riding on 225/40R18s. The hugging leather and heated seats are very comfortable, with dual-zone climate control also.
The RS Monitor has an option where you can choose the engine noise. Of course, I selected a little Clio V6 noise. The real engine noise is very muffled to be honest. The steering is very direct, electric but nice, and progressive towards higher speeds.
It has been maintenance-free for the last three years, except for the three capped-price services (yearly service), which have been around $400 each. Very reasonable. The battery was replaced under warranty on year two as a proactive measure at the dealership. The vehicle is very economical: city 8L/100km, 6.5L/100km at 110km/h with some spirited driving included.
There are very few Megane wagons around, and of them very few are GT 220s. I see more 911s on the road than Megane wagons, which shows some exclusivity. It is a rare breed to have a manual sports wagon to be honest, but it does almost everything with competence.
The Renault RS Navigation System included a TomTom-based system – the map updates are expensive, and the process to update is fiddly to say the least. No smartphone mirroring is available, so it loses points on the tech front.