Several weeks ago a little card arrived in our mailbox offering a 50% discount on the HelloFresh food delivery service. While the website promised “everything but the chef” we were still skeptical, would, or could, a home delivery produce service really live up to expectations?
I’m the kind of person that will agonise over the choice of every individual piece of produce I buy, secondly we both know what we like and dislike (or have a physical reaction with) so obviously we were needing to concede some control to the HelloFresh team.
“The Box” Arrives
We were really looking forward to the arrival of “the box” on Tuesday and during the afternoon it mysteriously arrived at our doorstep. This was the easiest and least stressful grocery shopping I’ve ever done!
We quickly opened it and explored the contents. As you can see from the pictures below pretty much everything is labelled, packed and portioned for HelloFresh customers to match the included recipe cards.
Overall I’d say we’re happy with the quality of the produce, nothings been rotten, cosmetically challenged or not fitting with the claims of freshness. Looking through he HelloFresh social media presence indicates that from time-time quality can drop the ball. I’d expect this is largely due to inattention of the packing team and not a deliberate outcome.
We signed up for the 3 meal, 2 people deal. So while we may have thought on unpacking the box that “there’s not a huge amount of food here” a lot of the questions would be answered by cooking up the included recipes and seeing how they delivered.
So over the coming posts I’ll go into each recipe from this box…
When listed they don’t sound like culinary adventures, but I’ll throw it back to a bigger question, how often do you cook something different through the week? In many ways I’m hoping the box provides inspiration to bring more variety into my kitchen and breaks some of the “it’s easy to throw this together” habits of old. We shall see!
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.
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.