The first time the “keycard battery low” warning came up on the instrument cluster was after 18 months of ownership and I studiously spent a week or two trying to ignore it before ending up locked out of the car.
Would you believe I actually couldn’t work out how to change the keycard battery? It’s one of those quick jobs that needs to be done, takes only a minute, but yet can cause a touch of anxiety while trying to force the battery compartment open.
Here’s the quick steps to put a new CR2032 battery into your keycard:
Remove the Emergency Key
Pressing the grey release button on the side of the remote while pulling on the end of the keycard will release the emergency key.
Open the Keycard Battery Compartment
Use the end of the emergency key or fingernail or coin to open the battery compartment. A thin coin twisted in the slot between the keycard case and cover works best, this will not be an “easy” pop and release.
Lift off the cover – it has clips all the way around so it will need a firm tug to remove completely.
Now that you’ve removed the battery compartment cover you can see the CR2032 battery which can be flipped out with a fingernail from the edge closest to the end of the keycard.
As you’d expect the keycard is reassembled in the reverse of the above process.
Make sure you’ve got the battery correctly orientated.
Line up the battery compartment cover carefully before firmly pressing down into place.
Slide the emergency key back into place and ensure the catch “clicks” back into position.
The “Oval Plate” is a key part of establishing the features and equipment fitted to any Renault. It has been used by Renault since 1909 and has evolved over the years from an oval shaped plaque in the engine compartment to a decal applied inside the right-hand door opening (Front or Rear).
By using a combination of your VIN Number and “Oval Plate” data you can use the Dialogys software to determine part numbers, directly read paint and a trim codes or just be mystified about what it all means.
In this post I’ve gathered together as much of the late-model decoding information I can find!
Where is the Oval Plate?
On post 1995 models the Oval Plate relocated from the engine compartment to the door openings on the right-hand side of the vehicle. The plate can be in either the front or rear door opening.
Divided into a table of 12 code blocks and integrated with (or next to) a decal giving the vehicle VIN number and load information (model dependent).
Seat Trim Code
Interior Trim Code
Technical Country Code
1. Vehicle Type
The vehicle type consists of 4 characters and under most conditions is the same as the 4-7th characters of the VIN. If your car is a limited edition then the last two characters of the vehicle type are likely to be unique.
B: 5 doors
C: 3 doors
E: cabriolet or roadster
F: Cargo Van
G: company based 5-door
K: Estate (or break) – also used for VP versions of the Kangoo
L: 4-door sedan
A: MPV long version
S: Company based on 3-door
U: Pick up (VU: chassis cab)
V: Company on a break
W: project to study non-validated
X: Project to study validated (setting assured production)
Z: used for concept cars
0 – Twingo
1 – R4
2 – R25
3 – R4
4 – R21 / Express
5 – Clio I / Laguna / R19 / Safrane
A – Megane I / Master
B – Clio II
C – Kangoo
D – Master
E – Espace III / Avantime
G – Laguna II
H – Master Propulsion
J – Vel Satis / New Traffic
K – Espace IV
L – Trafic
M – Megane II / Scenic II
P – Modus
S – Logan / Sandero / Duster / Dokker / Lodgy
Y – Koleos
Z – Megane III / Scenic III
2. Build Sequence
This identifies the specific vehicle in the production run. When using Dialogys this value ensures the correct revision parts are shown. Dialogys includes options to use Build Month & Year to “guess” this value.
The first character typically indicates the production plant or country:
Amercian Motor Corportaion
Romorantin (Matra Automobile)
3. Equipment Level
4. Equipment Code
5. Limited Edition
6. Paint Code
The first two characters “TE” may be part of the paint code, but most common references for Renault colours use the last 3 characters. Some colours may be encoded differently with different year models but have the same name. Always use the code on the Oval Plate when ordering paints.
7. Seat Trim Code
This code combines a description and colour code. The description is the first 4 characters while the last two represent the colour:
This is a 4 character prefix with a numerical code. “HARM” for Inner Harmony.
9. Technical Legislative Country Code
This code indicates the Country that the vehicle was to be exported or sold in. In most cases this is used to indicate that the vehicle was built to comply with the particular vehicle standards for that country.
This can be numeric or a 4 character code preceded by “TL”.
10. Extra 1
This is actually 4 unique codes joined together. Currently being investigated.
Letter 1: Type of suspension (A = normal (non-reinforced) – B = reinforced)
Letter 2: Type climate of the country (C = temperate countries) – (D = Cold country)
Letter 3: Air conditioning type (H = auto Clim) – (G = normal Clim) – (F = Not Clim)
Letter 4: Engine Type Filtration (K = without pre-filter)
11. Extra 2
This is actually 4 unique codes joined together. Currently being Investigated.
Letter 5: Steering type (N = normal steering) (P = Parametric)
Letter 6: Type dampers (R = no variable dampers)
Letter 7: Trim System (T = without correction)
Letter 8: Braking (ABS with W =) (V = without ABS)
In Canberra taking a daytrip to the “coast” usually means loading up the car and taking a 90-120 minute drive to Batemans Bay. We went a little further afield doubling the distance and duration to sit upon the shores of Jervis Bay on the picturesque Orion Beach.
The TomTom mapping on the built in Satnav was oddly convinced to take the middle of three routes, while we were going to follow the highlighted (and more familiar) route following the well trodden Kings Highway to Batemans Bay and then turning left and following the Princes Highway for the remaining distance.
As you’d expect the journey along the coast passes through many towns as it winds from hinterland to the shoreline on a slow progression north. We took a quick comfort stop in Ulladulla, where the highway virtually touches the sea. While the photo shows a magnificent hue it can’t portray the howling blasts of wind coming off the water.
Ulladulla also marks the beginning of the end of the journey with only about 30 minutes of travel left to the clusters of towns around Jervis Bay.
Looking at the pictures above you’d be right in thinking “it looks suspiciously late in the day” and you’d be right as Orion Beach wasn’t our only reason to trek all the way to Jervis Bay – but it was the ultimate goal of the trip to plant our feet in the ocean after many months of land-locked living in Canberra.
The beach itself is a narrow strip of sand and rock features along the shores of Jervis Bay. With and incoming tide and a strong wind the waters were murky, washing away the traces of the days activities.
So how did the GT220 go?
I’ve written other posts here about the long-legged touring ability of the Renault Megane GT220 and once again it failed to disappoint with a good compromise between stability over many varied road surfaces and comfort. The F4RT provides a seriously “adequate” overtaking power while offering reasonably good economy. Given the rather steep terrain and high average speeds over it running around the 8L/100km is not bad.
On the return journey the magically bright Bi-Xenon headlights turned the night into daylight letting us pick-out the roadside dangers of wildlife before they crossed our paths. The brakes pulling us up with metres of space when the inevitable rabbit hopped across the road in our path.
In one way this daytrip is the warmup and practice for a longer roadtrip planned for later this year where we’re looking at travelling around 3500km as we complete the South Eastern triangle between Canberra, Adelaide and Melbourne.
I have been a little slow on writing the next installment of the ownership experience with the actual 12th months of ownership arriving in mid-June 2014. However as the car isn’t being driven much this 4 week lag really reflected a grand total of maybe 300km of driving!
The 6th month Review had seen us covering almost 7000km, which is a stark contrast to the barely 4000km covered in the last 6 months. So much so that over 25% of this distance was completed in a single week!
It’s amazing how cheap a car is to own when you don’t drive it! Fuel consumption is still averaging a low ~9L/100km in mostly city driving, although the usage pattern has a lot more short trips that are inevitably edging consumption higher.
Total Distance (km):
Total Fuel (l):
Average Consumption (l/100km):
Average Fuel Price:
The numbers above are cumulative – that is based on the total 12 months of ownership – and I guess more than anything reflect a lack of change in the usage pattern.
Service costs on the other hand finally copped a hit with the required 10000km/12 Monthly servicing being completed slightly early in April. The cost was the fixed $299 Capped Price (Elf Oil used of course) and no other expense was incurred.
It’s a Renault. What has fallen off it?
Nothing. Nada, Zip!
That’s not to say there’s not been a few quirks that have raised their head.
Quirk 1: I raised it in the last review installment but as a recap the car was delivered without a fairly simple rubber seal fitted across the bonnet shut-line. This seal doesn’t appear to do much except prevent bugs and dirt from getting into the engine bay from above, for someone with a bit of a detailing fetish like me this is a good thing. At any rate the missing seal was fitted during the first service in April. I’ve not noticed any impact of this change so I guess I didn’t have to demand it be fitted.
Quirk 2: The stereo, OK another repeat from the 6th month point, it’s not great but the real issue is that unless it’s placed into “Driver” Mode the tweeters aren’t being driven. This naturally produces a flat and somewhat muddy sound quality. Unfortunately “they all do that” and until Renault realises that EVERY Megane Wagon with the 2013/2014 stereo has this problem I’ve found a reasonable workaround with manual tweaking of the Driver mode (including changing the LHD bias) to make it “acceptable”.
Quirk 3: It’s actually a bit of a precious flower when it comes to fuel quality, in my town everything is just perfect with Shells 98RON fuel, switch to an alternative brand like Caltex and suddenly “starts second time every time” for cold starts comes into play. It’s not a big deal but something to keep in mind – change fuel brand to something more to her taste and voila problem solved.
Fault 1: Yes we have a fault, just one, and it’s not critical, but it can be annoying. The passenger seat base has a rattle, only without a passenger in it, and most likely related to something needing a little plastic sleeve or bit of tape around it, but not having that sleeve or tape. Either way bumps on the road or a light tap on top trigger it. The entire seat base is most likely to be replaced under warranty.
Back to the Living and Driving with Question
Earlier this year I did a couple of solo long runs in the car, in Australian terms they were not that long – round trips of 500 to 750km – completed in single days.
In both cases Celeste reaffirmed by confidence in her dynamic abilities and tourability.
The trip out to Temora was a great run on rural roads in generally poor conditions, with the highway run up to Sydney later that week tested the carrying capacity, and the driver aids late into the night.
The Visio (Lane Departure Warning) and the Adaptive BiXenons certainly work together very well, and when I was dead tired the beeping alerts of the Visio system were a great “NO, Seriously you need to take rest stop” reminder. The headlights themselves are stunningly effective in High-beam and it’s sad to hear that the 2014 Facelift models don’t get the Adaptive BiXenon lights – even as an option – then again there’s no more GT220 model available in Australia either.
The “white” leather has remained surprisingly resilient to staining with any marks coming off during regular cleaning and treating with Meguiars or Chemical Guys leather products. It’s still a little daunting when chucking unknown fabrics into the car though – I’m waiting for the day where there’s some strange coloured mark left that just won’t come out.
The Carminat (Tom Tom) navigation system has been updated quarterly as new maps have come available. The update service cost me AUD69.99 last year and the next 12 month renewal should be a lowly AUD49.95 as long as I don’t let the offer lapse. The update process is a little clunky requiring the SD-Card to be ejected from the SATNAV unit, then updated on a PC before being returned to the car. I’ve no complaints with the system itself, and while Tom Tom doesn’t make the LIVE or RDS Traffic services available in Australia it’s hardly Renaults fault.
There’s not much more to add, tyre wear has been good, despite the front end scrabbling for traction due to the lack of LSD. Brake wear is minimal despite the heavy layers of brake dust on the wheels (Bowdens Own Wheely Clean works wonders) and the pedal remains progressive with good feel. It turns out the front rotors and pads are shared with the Koleos soft-roader so there’s a few options available in the aftermarket when the time comes.
Perfohub is the magic front suspension design that Renault developed to separate the drive and steering axis of their the Megane RS. Otherwise decribed as the “Cup” suspension option and usually paired with an LSD and Brembo 4-spot front brakes.
Otherwise known as a “double-axis” strut system the basic principle has been used by Ford, Opel and Renault on their pinnacle hot-hatches to resolve some of the negative handling characteristics of hight performance front-wheel-drive systems.
Can Perfohub be retrofitted?
For buyers of special editions such as the Mk3 Megane GT220 there’s no choice to tick the “Cup” box so we get what Renault provides, a well tuned combination of conventional strut hardware and all that goes along with it.
These pages are the compiled parts lists and technical drawings to show the parts required for retro-fitting the Perfohub suspension, the swap has already been done by other owners – however they have used complete (used) RS265 subframes to achieve the swap.
This is not going to be cheap, either using used parts or new parts from Renault.
There are a lot of “sundry” items that increase the costs. Things like wheels with the rather unique RS265 offset. Standard GT220 wheels will extend at least 15mm out from the body line!
You need to address both ends of the car, the conversion will increase the front track of the vehicle and a matching increase should be made to the rear – ie doing the equivalent RS265 parts swap there.
The benefit of Perfohub without an LSD can be debated – yes you will get less torque steer, yes you will be able to get better grip and cornering accuracy. Refer back to the comment about sundry costs.
I’m approaching writing this as the owner of a 2013 Megane GT220, a chassis that already has a lot of RS265 DNA – the brake master cylinder is the same as the Brembo equipped RS265, the gearbox and engine are the same and so on. If you have a different model you should research further.
The Parts Lists
On the following linked pages I’ll cover off the parts that make up the Mk3 Megane GT220 and RS265 front suspension packages along with the diagrams from Renault Dialogys.
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):
Total Fuel (l):
Average Consumption (l/100km):
Average Fuel Price:
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.