Renault Megane GT Review Ireland

Renault Megane GT Review

The all-new Renault Megane launched in Ireland in summer of 2016 and has been well-received, being a notable improvement on its predecessor. But for power hungry petrolheads, for who a 1.5-litre diesel will just not suffice, there’s the Megane GT and it’s the first of the new generation of the Megane to get the Renault Sport treatment. The Megane RS is yet to arrive, but the GT is a mild hot hatch, wrapped up in a chic French suit.

Priced from €30,690, the Renault Megane GT is a nice half way house with 205hp, sporty styling, lots of equipment, and some exclusive engineering for a more performance-oriented drive.

But at its heart the Megane GT is a five door hatchback so it brings all the comfort and practicality of the standard car. The boot is good for the segment at 384 litres and the car will seat five, though rear legroom is a little behind the class best.

The interior of the Renault Megane GT benefits from some exclusive badging, ambient lighting and blue trim, while Renault’s R-Link 2 8.7” portrait style touchscreen with navigation comes as standard. The infotainment looks impressive but is a little frustrating to switch between different functions.

Renault Megane GT Review Ireland
The interior of the Renault Megane GT

Elsewhere equipment includes 18”diamond cut alloy wheels, GT steering wheel with paddle shift, aluminium sport pedals, full LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera, and launch control for quick starts!

The Renault Megane GT is front wheel drive and comes with a seven speed dual clutch automatic gearbox. Under the bonnet there’s a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 205hp and 280Nm of torque. 0-100kmh is 7.1 seconds, and it goes on to a top speed of 230kmh. The power delivery is spirited without being crazy, but enough to add excitement to your average commute.

There are a few different driving modes, and in sport mode you get a sharper throttle response and heavier steering, while it also changes how the automatic gearbox behaves.  The automatic gearbox is not 100% satisfactory because it is slow to react and holds onto the gears too much. Thankfully the gearbox behaves more naturally in normal mode, and you can still change up and down gear yourself using the paddles on the steering wheel.

Renault Megane GT Review Ireland
The Renault Megane GT has 205hp and will hit 100kmh from a standstill in 7.1 seconds with launch control engaged!

The Renault Megane GT also has a stiffer suspension than your standard Megane so the car holds the road better when you’re pushing on through a series of corners and it’s still quite a comfortable car, though you notice the extra firmness over rough and uneven surfaces. Refinement is really good, and the cabin is well insulated from road and wind noise, making it a great companion for daily driving.

The novelty value with the Megane GT is that is has four wheel steering, which you won’t find in any rivals: it’s a class first. At low speeds the rear wheels can turn a little to make the car more manoeuvrable and give it a tighter turning circle. At higher speeds, it increases cornering grip and agility.

It feels a little weird at first and not fully intuitive because you don’t need as much steering lock as you think you do. But show the Megane GT a series of corners and you can see the system's merits. You just need small, quick movements on the wheel to get around corners, and these quick responses are matched with grip almost like a four wheel drive car. You can feel the back wheels hugging the road surface and that allows you to get back on the throttle early and accelerate out of the bend. It's really quite stunning.

No, the Megane GT is not the full hot hatch experience because it’s just not powerful or raw enough for that. But it’s not priced like one either and in terms of comfort and refinement, this car is as easy to live with on a daily basis as a diesel Megane; just less efficient. There are some frustrations to this car, but overall it’s entertaining enough to be tempting!

Renault Megane GT Review Ireland
The Renault Megane GT is not a full-on hot hatchback but the handling really is stunning

Model tested: Renault Megane GT Nav 205 EDC
€30,690 (Range starts at €19,490)
Engine: 1.6-litre turbo petrol
Torque: 280Nm
7.1 seconds
Top speed: 230km/h
CO2 emissions:  
Motor tax:
€280 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a sporty hatchback you might also like this review of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

Ford Fiesta ST200

Ford Fiesta ST200 Arrives In Ireland

As the Ford Fiesta celebrates 40 years in production, a new 200PS version of the Ford Fiesta ST hot hatch has gone on sale in Ireland, priced from €32,190.

“The Fiesta ST is truly beloved by owners and critics. The ST200 takes this special drivers’ car to a new level of power and performance,” says Ciarán McMahon, Chairman and Managing Director of Ford Ireland.

The Fiesta ST200 is the most powerful production Fiesta model to date and delivers 10% more power (182PS vs.  200PS) and 20% more torque (240Nm vs. 290Nm) from a specially calibrated 1.6-litre EcoBoost petrol engine. An additional 15PS and 30Nm of torque is available for up to 20 seconds using transient overboost.

The ST200 will sprint from 0-100 km/h in 6.7 seconds, going on to a top speed of 230kmh. It delivers faster in-gear acceleration for improved drivability and an even more fun-to-drive experience. Like the Fiesta ST, the ST200 sits 15 millimetres closer to the road than standard Fiesta models.

The Fiesta ST200 utilises recently upgraded Fiesta ST suspension and Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) settings to improve ride quality and driving dynamics. A rear twist-beam with 27% more roll-stiffness, and a front anti-roll bar increased to 21mm from 19mm diameter, support revised damper specifications for better impact absorption.

Fiesta ST200 driving dynamics are supported by Enhanced Torque Vectoring Control (eTVC) and 3-mode Electronic Stability Control (ESC). The eTVC system applies brake force to the inside front wheel when cornering to improve road holding and reduce understeer without affecting speed. ESC offers full system intervention; wide-slip mode with limited intervention; and full ESC de-activation.

Optimised braking is delivered with 278mm front and 253mm rear disc brakes, and a larger tandem brake master cylinder than standard Fiesta models.

The Fiesta ST200 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine’s low weight also assists handling and features technologies including turbocharging, high-pressure direct fuel-injection and twin-independent variable cam timing for high power alongside 6.1 l/100 km (46.3mpg) fuel efficiency and 140g/km CO2 emissions.

The ST200 offers bolder and more distinctive design and is offered solely in exclusive Storm Grey exterior colour with the distinctive 17-inch ST alloys wheels finished in matt black with polished rims.

Fiesta ST200 models also feature red painted callipers alongside the ST-specification large trapezoidal honeycomb grille, dynamic front spoiler and side-skirts, body-colour rear diffuser element and large rear roof spoiler.

An enhanced interior specification includes unique partial leather Charcoal Recaro front seats that are further distinguished with contrasting silver stitching, as are the seatbelts. Illuminated scuff plates incorporate the ST200 logo. Carbon fibre dashboard inserts, alloy-metal pedals and gearshifter, and an ST-specification steering wheel also feature for the atmospheric interior that contrasts dark materials and headliner with silver effect detail. Keyless push button start comes as standard as well as rear privacy glass and Ford SYNC infotainment.

The Ford Fiesta ST was launched in 2013 and quickly established itself as Europe’s leading compact performance hatchback, earning more than 20 awards around the world within its first year on sale. Ford has since sold more than 30,000 Fiesta STs in Europe.

Caroline Kidd

Peugeot 308 GTi ireland review

Peugeot 308 GTi 270hp Review

Peugeot 308 GTi ireland review
The Peugeot 308 GTi

Peugeot know a thing or two about building a performance car and their sporty hatchbacks have been getting petrolheads all in a lather for over 30 years.  Cars like the Peugeot 205 GTi and 306 GTi-6 belong to the annals of greatest cars of all time, and these cars still have the capacity to strike up an emotional response in adults akin to those otherwise reserved for recollections of since departed dear friends and relatives. Great cars like great people leave lasting impressions.

So what of the new Peugeot 308 GTi? What to do with the weight of expectation on your broad shoulders?

Before meeting the Peugeot 308 GTi for the first time, it was reassuring to see that this car is now officially the “Peugeot 308 GTi by Peugeot Sport” because we know that Peugeot Sport has already done some great things, like smash the record for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb with a rally spec 208, and won the Dakar Rally in a monster spec 2008.

But could the brains behind these victories take a supermarket spec 308 and turn it into one of the best hot hatchbacks on the market right now?

Watch my video review or scroll down to read the rest of the review:

Step 1: Make it look the part. The 308 is one of the better looking hatchbacks out there so this would be easy. The new 308 GTi looks pleasingly beefy, especially from the back where two larger than life exhaust pipes declare this car’s intentions. Still there’s nothing brash here: a modest body kit, new upright grille with inset Peugeot lion, ultra-light 19” aluminium alloy wheels on the 270hp model (18” alloys on 250hp model), red Peugeot Sport-branded brake callipers, and of course the all-important GTi badging. It does look good and you can spec the 270hp model with a Coupe Franche red and black split paint job if you really want to make it shout a bit louder (but good luck trying to explain this choice to bewildered bystanders!).

Inside, the cabin feels cosy and driver focused. There’s more red detail and GTi badging, and look up, down, left, right, and you’re met with good design and quality that makes the nearly €40,000 price tag not seem like a rip-off. While you’re paying for the sophisticated engineering that goes into bringing a car like this to your driveway, there’s no reason why you should have to slum it and this car delivers. You’ll be pretty comfortable and secure too in your Alcantara trimmed seat with massage function.

But why you’ll need a massage function when I tell you the next bit, I don’t know. Power comes from a 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, and there are two variants – one with 250hp and the other with 270hp, with a six speed manual gearbox as standard. That’s 270hp from a 1.6-litre engine in a front wheel drive hatchback!  There’s obviously no time for relaxing!

Peugeot 308 GTi ireland review
Peugeot 308 GTi has a quality cabin with some sporty flourishes

The Peugeot 308 GTi 270 feels very fast on the road.  No kidding. 330Nm of torque will pull you to 100kmh from a standstill in just 6 seconds, and you can go all the way to a top speed of 249kmh. The 270 model is not just a power update, there are also bigger front brakes and the addition of a limited slip differential to improve cornering grip.

Find a series of corners and this car will show you what it’s made of. The Peugeot 308 GTi 270 is like an athlete in the way it moves and on the road when you’re pushing, it feels as if every inch of the car has been tuned for performance. That comes across to the driver as a firmness, a sort of muscularity that’s absent from your average daily runabout. But you need it because otherwise this car would be difficult to control, and frankly, dangerous. The big fat Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres and limited slip differential work to make this car really clinical and precise corner after corner.

If there is one area that could be better, it is the steering. It is much improved over the set-up in a standard 308, feeling meatier and more natural as you turn in for the corner but it’s still lacking that extra little bit of feedback of the very best set-ups.  Not acute – it’s not like you’re going to be drifting around the place wondering if the front wheels are connected to the steering wheel at all. There’s loads of grip but the steering could just do a better job of communicating it through to the rim.

For bouts of spirited driving, there is a Sport mode that sharpens up the throttle response and feeds some augmented engine noise into the cabin, but this car is fast whatever you choose to do with it. So much so that there’s that little element of menace to it, like the lion could bite you if you didn’t respect it (if you were a Golf GTI fan for example). In Sport mode, it does seem to dump all its power to the front wheels very quickly with a scream from the engine, so the car demands all your concentration. But it is so enjoyable to drive this car fast through some corners and this is when you see the magic of what the engineers have done.

Peugeot 308 GTi ireland review
Peugeot 308 GTi: Styling has been suitably beefed up

For all this car’s beastliness, it does that great hatchback thing of being a really easy car to live with - seating for five, a decent boot for everyday life, and reasonable running costs.  Rear legroom is a bit tight by class standards but the boot is one of the best - 470 litres with a practical shape and low loading sill. Emissions of 139g CO2 put the car in tax band B and motor tax is €280 per year, while this model returns up to 47mpg (I averaged an acceptable 39mpg). The beauty of this car is that when you’re not pushing it, the 308 GTi is like any other normal, friendly hatchback. Okay, there’s a firmer edge to the ride so you feel the road underneath you more, but this car is excellent in terms of refinement when you just want to cruise, with road, wind and engine noise well suppressed.

The Peugeot 308 GTi starts at €36,990 with the 270hp model coming in at €39,990. Considering the power, the engineering and the level of equipment and quality of the cabin, that actually looks like good value. Standard equipment includes cruise control, dual zone climate control, four electric windows, electric handbrake, keyless start, auto lights and wipers, touchscreen infotainment with Bluetooth and navigation, parking sensors and rear view camera, and massage function on the front seats (though we’ve established that you probably won’t need that very much!).

Of course the Peugeot 308 GTi does not stand alone, with a number of equally well-qualified competitors vying for your attention.  This can be a tough segment to make an impact in and for a lot of performance car buyers, it goes down to allegiance to a particular brand. And if your allegiance is not to Peugeot, that’s a pity because despite one or two little niggles, the 308 GTi is the real deal. It’s got the looks, the quality you expect from a €40,000 car, incredible power, agile handling, a little bit of menace to keep you senses sharp, and the GTi badge is legendary, and whether it’s fair or not, that sort of pedigree accounts for a lot in this market. If you’re the kind of driver who values the journey more than the destination, the 308 GTi is the car.

Peugeot 308 GTi ireland review
Peugeot 308 GTi: Good value considering the level of standard kit, pure power and sophisticated engineering

Caroline Kidd

Model Tested: Peugeot 308 GTi 270
€39,990 (Range starts €36,990)
1.6-litre turbo petrol
 6 seconds
CO2 Emissions: 
Motor Tax: 
€280 per year