High-performance halo models are fine for car-enthusiasts using their own money, but often prohibitive for more restricted fleet choice lists.
Car manufacturers are getting around the problem by offering a kind of half-way house – cars that come with some of the more purposeful looks of the high-performance variants with more palatable CO2 emissions and running costs.
Renault’s latest strategy is its new GT range of Meganes. It combines styling elements featured on Renaultsport versions, with some chassis tweaks for sharper responses compared to mainstream Meganes, but prices are easier on budgets.
We chose to sample the five-door Megane hatchback 2.0 dCi GT.
With 160bhp it’s knocking on the door of the Volkswagen Golf GTD’s 170bhp, but with 280lb-ft at 2000rpm, it has more pulling power than the Golf’s 258lb-ft.
Although its CO2 emissions of 155g/km are several tax bands higher than the Golf GTD’s 134g/km, it makes up some ground on the Volkswagen with a higher level of equipment and a lower asking price.
Add spec to the Golf to match the Renault and the monthly BIK tax bills are very close.
The GT comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, sports front seats and other Renaultsport-inspired enhancements.
But there are also changes under the skin, as the chassis is based on the Megane Coupé while springs are bespoke for the body type (GT is available in Coupé, hatchback, Sport Tourer and Coupé-Cabriolet versions), and other components and settings are taken from the Renaultsport 250.
Although the GT uses the same electric power steering as the other Megane models – much improved in feel from the previous generation Megane – it is calibrated differently to take account of the chassis changes.
Brakes are also upgraded.
Renault’s recent improvements in the quality of materials and build make the Megane a pleasant place to travel in and the GT dCi’s performance is satisfying.
The Megane GT does feel more special than the mainstream models and its seemingly endless torque and sharp handling provide an enjoyable drive.
The challenge for user-choosers would be whether they desire the image of a Golf GTD more.