Ok so we haven’t been living in the car since we picked it up on the 14s of June 2013, but we have covered almost 7000km!
Along the way we’ve covered a few highway trips, a lot of short round-town commuting and shared some interesting experiences like visits to the service centre and running out of fuel.
I’ll be honest I track fuel use in a spreadsheet, each tank is carefully entered and the average cost per kilometre is calculated. Sure it’s dependent on fuel pricing and the driving style but over time provides a real understanding of the “variable” costs.
It’s easy to say I’ve visited petrol stations 14 times in the past 6 months, but the numbers below (up to the last refuel a few days before the 6month mark) tell us the real story.
|Total Distance (km):||6531.6|
|Total Fuel (l):||610.7|
|Average Consumption (l/100km):||9.28|
|Average Fuel Price:||$ 1.72|
|Average Cost/KM:||$ 0.16|
I should say for the record that I have been “driving like I stole it” for about 90% of this distance.
On the servicing front we had a basic Oil and Filter change done at around 3000km to ensure any crude from the run-in process was flushed out. This was carried out by our local dealer, and not without it’s own quality glitches with oil spilt into the under-engine panelling and ultimately pouring out over my garage floor. The service itself was just shy of $300 – the main cost being the genuine oil filter and the Elf oil, which accounted for over half the bill.
The next three future services at 10000km/12 month intervals are capped at $299.
It’s a Renault, What’s fallen off it?
OK You got me. I’d love to say that my experience has been flawless, and it hasn’t been. All said though I have some minor issues.
- The roof rail cover fell off, the clips broken, I had flashbacks to my old RenaultSport Clio at that point.
- The bonnet is missing its leading edge seal, it never had it, I’m still waiting for it. So much for Renault having parts in Australia.
- There’s a rattle in the passenger side area of the cabin. Maybe something loose in the door, I’m not sure.
- The felted door seals make noise unless they’re heavily lubricated. I’m dealing with this myself, the Goss Dri-Lube stick works wonders for about 8 weeks at a time.
Other than that there’s been no issues, not mechanical maladies and no weird “Starts second time every time” annoyances.
Is it hard to live with?
I don’t think so, it’s a wagon and immediately that makes it way more useable than just about every size comparable sedan. When we started out car hunt we were frustrated that most sedans had boot openings that made us feel that we were “posting” our luggage into the dark unreachable corner and recovery required a rope tether to climb in and get it.
In a way stuff can still end up way deep in the back against the rear seats but at least large, odd shaped or long things can be slid straight in.
The rest of the car is just conventional, the Keyless system is truly Keyless, a few times the proximity unlock function hasn’t as it’s been snug against a mobile phone in a pocket, but it’s never failed to lock, nor failed to start.
The stereo is functional, it works and sounds OK in the “driver” mode, but just about every other sound field adapting mode is useless. The fact that the tweeters are only driven in Driver mode probably has a lot to do with this. Renault doesn’t have a fix, “they’re all like that” isn’t really a good enough response but that’s what we got.
The real annoyance was running out of fuel. Yeah something that can be averted by the addition of well aged liquid dinosaur to the tank, however I do partly blame the car for it. See it gives distance to empty down to a 50km range. From that point it doesn’t give indication of range. So making a decision on which petrol station to fill up at isn’t really about choice, it’s about what’s closest.
Interestingly as it died and tried to auto-start a few times it came up with “ESC” disabled, something that isn’t possible to do as a driver, only the traction control can be turned off. I’ve got to investigate this more.
Is it really a RenaultSport?
It’s definitely more than “just a regular wagon”. Despite the ESC that cannot be over-ridden there’s lift-over oversteer available on-tap, the lateral grip on flowing corners is outstanding and when the curves tighten into tight bends there’s enough “slip” available before the traction control cuts the fun that careful throttle application can keep things moving.
On the highway it’s a competent almost effortless cruiser. This is naturally aided by our relatively low speed limits keeping the engine slightly “on the boil” at the expense of fuel consumption. At a steady 130km/h (the French national limit) consumption drops off by about 10% compared the 110km/h we have here in Australia.
On country roads – that is the kind that traverse the majority of rural Australia something spectacular happens and the chassis absorbs the lumps and bumps firmly but with a edge of suppleness that even Australian designed large cars haven’t delivered when fitted with their factory “sports” suspensions. The harsher ride around city potholes and undulations isn’t as pronounced with the addition of speed, the somewhat “on stilts” stance of the car is now working in our favour with the longer suspension travel suddenly coming into play.
Incidentally even with a few hundred kilograms of cargo in the back the suspension doesn’t seem to sink into a “dog-with-worms” bum dragging stance that many Japanese and Korean wagons do, it’s obvious that a despite the very limited nature of the production the RenaultSport engineers have managed a pretty good balancing act between a practical family tourer and a “hot hatch”.
Inside the car there isn’t an excess of noise, the engine has a gruff note that becomes a melodic bellow at higher rpms, it’s not unpleasant but I suspect removing the intake resonator which transmits some of this into the cabin could be a good thing. The exhaust is very muted, the large pipe dumping well under the car, roughly half way between the rear axle one and the rear bumper.
Tyre noise on the other hand is noticeable, partly this will be the Dunlop SportMax, a tyre not known to be a quiet runner and partly reflecting a lack of luxury car-like sound deadening. A $30 roll of deadener in key areas and some quieter rubber would probably not hurt. On smoother (concrete & hot mix) the noise is very well suppressed and the noise of the air swirling around the roof-rails becomes far more obvious, it’s not unpleasant, yet it does make me wonder what the car would be like without them.
Would the car need an LSD? Certainly it would help with the grip under power, as would the PerfoHub arrangement (which would also bring Brembos to the party) but I’m not sure I would have found the extra $10000 Renault Australia would probably charge for a car with that. Naturally I’d hope that they’d find more than 220hp for it too once those grip and traction matters were addressed.
Speaking of power, we did run Celeste up on the dyne at Ultimate Tunes here in Canberra and got a very respectable 147kw at the front wheels. I’m happy enough with that for now.
So where to from here?
Driving, more driving and some more driving. At the moment we’re not considering modifications, by the 30000km/3 Year mark we will have to make plans for servicing that avoid cost blowouts. To this end there are a number of high-quality Renault approved oils available that aren’t the relatively hard-to-get Elf (nor are they as expensive), Genuine “Service Kits” are available from the UK and mainland Europe for very reasonable prices and there are at least two good French specialist workshops in town.
But swinging back to the modifications topic. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t done research, but considering the car is largely a bespoke combination of RS265 driveline and GT-Line Estate/Wagon/Sports Tourer some things will require custom fettling. Cat-back exhausts don’t deliver major power, and changing the cat will bring up the power levels but like most emissions controlled vehicles that will likely trigger warning lights, boost cuts and other weirdness. The only remedy for that being a tune. The tunes themselves delivering up to 80hp more than stock on the GT220 are already proven (basically it’s a RS265 power tune) and there’s a few companies that can do it. Shame all of them invoke locking the ECU to a specific tuner or tuning tool.
Intake modifications seem to deliver nothing of value, Blow-Off-valves etc certainly can help manage higher boost levels but lets be honest, the factory unit will be fine for a modest boost increase (and the reality is that at least half of my power gain is simply in extending the current boost level further up the rev range as it tapers off quite significantly compared to the RS265 boost map.
Anyway there you have it. 6 months of living with a Renault Megane GT220.