6 Months in a Renault Megane GT220

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!

Celeste wearing a smart bow for her delivery.
Celeste wearing a smart bow for her delivery.

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.

Operating Costs

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.

There's nothing to see here!
There’s nothing to see here!

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.

Published by

Aaron

Geek, Car Guy, Former entrepreneur looking for the next big thing while doing the things I should have done 20 years ago. Key pusher and thinker for a large organisation who dreams to be doing something else.

5 thoughts on “6 Months in a Renault Megane GT220”

  1. Hi,

    I am looking at buying a 2013 Megan GT 220 and have found your posts a great source of information, so thank you.

    I was wondering if you had any further insight in to the ownership of the car i.e. frequency of servicing, when there are major ones due?

    Is there anything you would suggest I keep an eye out for? Overall has it been trouble free?

    And one of the biggest area i am interested in is ECU tuning, have you done any more research on these? Is it a safe direction to take?

    I look forward to hopefully hearing back form you.

    Thanks,

    Harry

    1. Servicing is Annual – or every 10,000km
      The first 3 services are “capped” at AUD299
      The 4th service (4 years or on distance) is the major interval which does require the timing belt to be changed and costs around AUD1000.

      Mine has been trouble free with a few minor squeaks and rattles that have largely been resolved with common sense. There hasn’t been any mechanical failure!

      ECU tuning is a small minefield – I’ll write a longer blog post about that soon – however, yes it’s safe, it’s doable and there are some good tuners out there who will give you good results.

  2. Hi Aaron,

    Thanks for getting back to me, I have done a lot of research on this car and your post give a for in-depth and real account of ownership.

    I couldn’t mind much online about servicing other than the 10000 kms/ Annual service and was wondering when the first service was. Your reply has been very helpful as the car I am looking at has done 38,000 kms so it looks like it will need a major service soon. 40,000kms sounds very low for a timing belt is that rare?

    There is a lot of negative comments online about french cars and in particular Renaults about falling apart, mostly from people who probably haven’t even owned one, so thats for address that. I understand there will always be minor squeaks and rattles.

    I really look forward to your ECU tuning blog, I have done a bit of research and it definitely does look like a mine field. I understand that the engine is the same out of the RS 275, so ideally I would look for a remap that would match this and not push it to the 300BHP that I have seen online out of worry that it might stress the engine too much in our warmer climate. Do you have any thoughts or this?

    Again thanks for your time and expertise.

    Cheers,

    Harry

    1. The actual belt interval is 100000km or 4 years – which is very normal – even the costs aren’t that disparate from “other” cars.

      There are some simple service tasks that are most complex like changing the cabin pollen filter which can push costs up though.

      In my experience mine has been basically squeak free except for window rubbers creaking. The firmer suspension does mean everything in the car shakes and moves a bit more though which can make it seem noisier. I have had some noises turn up after being repaired by a panel shop, but that could (is) connected with a bunch of missing screws I found this today! Up until it was stripped for repair the car was basically noise free.

      The engine is an exact part for part match for the RS265/275 which does mean there are good gains to had tuning. There are a few companies doing tunes but I would be inclined to suggest the RS Tuner product is the best all rounder and the guy who does the tunes has been to Australia on occasion to tune. So he actually has real experience with our fuel and sweltering heat. http://Www.fastchip.nl is his site.

      There are some Aussie workshops selling tunes but most are flashed on from a foreign company and not tuned in the dyno by actual staff of the workshop.

      The feel is that around the 295-305hp (at the flywheel) is safe with our 98 fuels.

      The engines do have a fragility at high boost, but we are talking 350hp or more and before getting there you’d have to address intercooler and oil cooling (and the radiator).

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