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Renault Megane GT-Line wagon 2018 review

Can a wagon compare with an SUV for a family?
Nedahl Stelio
Family reviewer

30 Jan 2018 • 16 min read

Summer for our family always means trips to the beach. And going to the beach means bringing a whole load of things with you, from boogie boards to tents and an abundance of towels. 

So, with a family of four, does that mean I need an SUV? Or what about a wagon? It’s been a while since wagons have been cool, but they are beginning to make a slow return after being shoved to the sidelines by Australians’ passion for SUVs. Newer shapes and cooler profiles means people are looking at them again. But how do they compare to an SUV in a similar price bracket? 

This week, I drove the Renault Megane GT-Line, to find out. It’s second from the top of the range and is the wagon version of the sportier hatch. Is it just as cool? We’ll see. 

How does it drive?

There are a few things to get used to in the Renault Megane, but once you’ve driven it for a few days you’ll feel like you’ve been driving it forever. The take-off is has a slight lurch factor (it feels like a manual on take-off), so it’s a bit jerky, but it quickly becomes expected. 

The rest of the drive is smooth and quiet, with responsive steering (though a little stiff, apparently intentional because it’s the sports version). Even though it has a small 1.2-litre engine, I found it good enough for my suburban drives from beach to home and shipping the kids around to friend’s houses and their grandma’s.

The small 1.2-litre engine is good enough for my suburban drives. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The small 1.2-litre engine is good enough for my suburban drives. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

Basically, if that’s what you do in your car - easy driving in suburban areas, it’s enough. It even got up the hill near my house I test all cars on, with little effort and lots of zoom. 

I had a slight problem when the start-stop function did not restart for me, which proved to be an issue because I was on a hill, however you can turn that feature off and that’s how I drove the car for the rest of the week. It dampened my enthusiasm for the Megane slightly, however. 

It sits lower than an SUV, being a wagon it’s on par with sedans and hatches, and this is just one of those things you get used to - being at a regular height in a car. It kind of makes you wonder why we’ve all been sitting up high for so long. 

How does it look?

The best bit about this car is that it looks luxe, without the luxury price tag. Everywhere I went people thought I was in a seriously expensive car, but it comes in at $37,990.

It’s shaped like a long hatchback, and everything about it, from the logo front and centre on the hood, to the curved lines around the headlights, to the boot, screams European styling.

The Megan wagon is shaped like a long hatchback. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The Megan wagon is shaped like a long hatchback. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The difference in design between this and some of the non-European competitors is rather large. And while you do compromise with some slight technical difficulties (see: How does it drive and What’s the tech like), does that matter when the car looks this good? 

The interior too, is more stylish than most other popular cars in this price range. Even though the seats are fabric, they actually look and feel like suede, which is a very swish touch. The steering wheel is leather, and that feels fabulous under the hands - one of my prerequisites of a good driving experience.

The interior is more stylish than most other popular cars in this price range. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The interior is more stylish than most other popular cars in this price range. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

The dash is well designed, as is the centre console and storage area and there are blue accents throughout the interior - subtle lights on the doors and a blue stitching in the seat, that make it all a bit cool too, without it being OTT.

How easy is it to use everyday?

To be honest, I thought the low profile wagon would be an issue with the kids - taking them in and out and doing carseats up is much easier in a higher SUV. But my children are aged four and six now, so can almost get in and out by themselves. 

I found myself climbing into the back from one side and doing both seatbelts up from there. It was less annoying than I expected and if your kids are older, you won’t have any difficulty with a low profile car. 

There are two cupholders in the front seat, and two in the back seat, along with bottle holders in each door. The front cupholders are small though, the French don’t drink Grande Lattes.

The front cupholders are on the small side. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The front cupholders are on the small side. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

There’s a small storage spot for your keys/wallet in the front, and an average sized centre console bin. It’s fairly simple, but well planned, and I didn’t need anything else on my week of driving. 

Dual-zone climate control works well for front and back passengers, thanks to the rear air vents. In the heat waves we’ve been experiencing, they’ve been invaluable for the children. 

Parking was easy thanks to the reversing camera, and the 360 degree parking sensors which show when you’re getting close from any direction. The 11.4m turning circle is a little on the large side, but I had to keep reminding myself I was in a wagon, so the car was longer, because honestly it just doesn’t feel like you’re driving with extra baggage in your booty - and that is a good thing.

How spacious is it?

There is plenty of room in the front seats, with lots of leg space for both me and my 185cm husband. It’s not as big as a large SUV, but you wouldn’t expect it to be either. 

The back seats are spacious with room for three car seats (I would always test the carseats yourself in the back before you buy because things can get squishy). I fit perfectly fine back there with plenty of legroom. At 161cm I’m quite small but I don’t think an adult will have trouble with legroom - if there’s one thing wagons are good for, it’s length.

The back seats are spacious with room for three car seats. (image credit: Dan McCartney) The back seats are spacious with room for three car seats. (image credit: Dan McCartney)

The boot is sizeable at 580 litres. I could fit the CarsGuide pram in along with all the beach paraphernalia a child could hope for - the tent, boogie boards, even an inflatable only halfway depressed.

All in all, my little family of four had loads of space to feel comfortable inside.

The boot is sizeable at 580 litres. (image credit: Dean McCartney) The boot is sizeable at 580 litres. (image credit: Dean McCartney)

What’s the tech like?

There is a large, vertically shaped multimedia screen which actually goes seven inches down rather than across, like most other cars. I found this particularly useful. Everything was controlled via the screen and it was all fairly easy to work out. I thought the sat nav was one of the most simple, easy to read systems I’ve used. 

A few strange placements of buttons though made me refer to the manual a few times throughout the week of driving, like the volume control which ended up being hidden behind the steering wheel - not on it.

I’d never have seen it if it didn’t reveal itself while I was stuck mid-turn on a roundabout. A few other things like the cruise control and the phone/bluetooth connection were impossible to spot without looking them up in the manual. Luckily, I’m a woman, so I can look up the manual without losing my manliness.
 
The speaker system was fantastic for a car in this price range, and I loved being able to turn up the volume without fear of fuzziness in my ears. Blocking the world out, with the sound up in my car, has become one of this mum’s simple life pleasures.

How safe is it?

They’ve gone over and above in the safety stakes, with AEB coming standard on the Megane GT-Line, and 'Easy Park Assist' which will actually park the car for you if even the front, rear and side parking sensors can’t help you navigate it in. Cruise control, blind spot warning and a (jarring) lane departure warning are also featured. 

There are front, side and rear curtain airbags and the back row has two ISOFIX points and three top tethers for childrens’ car seats. A full sized spare tyre in the boot will certainly make you feel more comfortable on long road trips. 

How much does it cost to run?

Fuel efficiency is good on the Megane wagon, with Renault claiming it uses 6.2L/100km on the combined cycle. That’s less than most SUVs (not all, but most), but it needs 95RON at a minimum.  

Renault offers a five year/unlimited km warranty, with four years roadside assistance. Service intervals are 12 months or 30,000km, with the first three capped at $299. A Megane GT-Line comes in at $37,990, before on-road costs.


The Wrap

The practical spacious wagon is making a comeback, and the Renault Megane GT-Line is a stylish choice for a family which likes ease of driving coupled with a luxe feel and design. 

It’s a good option for those looking under the $40K price bracket. I gave it a family rating of 7 stars out of 10, taking points off for the start-stop not working for me, and the lurchy take off. 

My children gave it an extra half a point - they really loved those blue lights in the doors.

Likes

Stylish interior and exterior
Good fuel efficiency
Good speakers

Dislikes

The start-stop... stopped
Placement of certain functions

Scores

Nedahl:

3.5

The Kids:

3.8

$33,990

Based on new car retail price

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