Home' Open Road North Shore : OR0716 Contents Like many compact SUVs that have hit the
market in the past few years, the Fiat 500X
purports to be a ‘crossover SUV’, but
doesn’t tick many traditional SUV boxes.
With the rear seats up, for instance, the
346-litre cargo area will only accommodate
small suitcases. A 163mm ground
clearance makes nothing but the softest
soft-roading advisable, while the top-spec
Cross Plus has a ‘whopping’ 176mm.
All-wheel-drive makes its Fiat debut in
the 500X Lounge and Cross Plus models.
We tested the mid-spec Pop Star, which
has a 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged
engine (103kW/230Nm) attached to a six-
speed automatic gearbox. It has three
drive modes: auto, sport and traction. In
auto mode it’s a smooth combination
around the suburbs and never struggles
with the Pop Star’s 1295kg kerb weight.
Traction mode is designed for use in slick
and off-road conditions.
Sport mode adds weight to the steering
and makes the engine pick up its revs,
although the front wheels struggle to put
the power to the tarmac. The transmission
also gets in a tangle from time to time. It’s
a pity, because the 500X has suspension
firm enough for competent handling
without being too firm, and a chassis that
easily copes with the car’s weight.
The well-specced interior, with its
colourful dash, glossy buttons and
cushioned armrests, makes it easy to
forgive oddball design features, such as
the strangely placed ignition button and
the hard-to-read analogue speedo (a large
digital alternative is available).
Front seat padding is generous and well
shaped, the leather steering wheel is thick
and tactile, and drinks in the console cup
holders don’t interfere with the gear
THE MEGANE COMPETES in the
overcrowded small car segment and
is up against models such as the
Volkswagen Golf, Mazda3, Toyota
Corolla and Hyundai i30.
The full Megane line-up will be
announced later in the year, but
Renault flew in four cars for us to
sample in the GT-Line and the flagship
GT spec. While pricing hasn’t been
confirmed, the range is expected to
start from around $23,000 .
The fourth-gen Megane features
the company’s new ‘face’, is longer,
and sits on a longer wheelbase than
the current model. Renault says it will
come with three engine choices – a
1.2 -litre four-cylinder in the GT-Line, a
1.6 -litre turbocharged four-cylinder in
the GT and a 1.5 -litre four-cylinder
turbo diesel. The high-performance
RS is expected to arrive in 2017.
Inside, both models have a
premium feel, with black and blue
faux leather trim and a seven-inch
touchscreen (optional 8.7-inch
screen). The front sports seats are
well bolstered and the rear seats are
sculpted and comfortable. The
longer wheelbase means there’s
more rear space, but it doesn’t feel
as roomy as a Mazda3 or Corolla.
The range topping 1.6 -litre engine
has plenty of get up and go and
An advance test drive of the all-new Renault Megane leaves a good first impression
Shape of things to come
sounds great. It has good low-end
power and excellent mid-range torque.
In the eco and neutral modes, the auto
is tuned for economy and likes to spend
more time in the taller, more efficient
ratios. Switch it to sport mode and this
adjusts the engine response, throttle
and transmission for a sportier drive.
While we didn’t get to take the
Megane out on public roads, the test
track had coarse bitumen, a lot of
irregularities and off-camber corners
that showed how good the Megane’s
ride is. The suspension is well damped
and easily soaked up large bumps. It
should be noted the cars we tested are
not the exact spec we’ll get in Australia,
although the suspension will be similar.
We also sampled the car on a high-
speed loop that showed off the GT’s
four-wheel steering. What a fantastic
system – you can actually feel the rear
of the car steering. It angles the rear
wheels up to 2.7 degrees in the
opposite direction to the front wheels,
which results in better cornering. This
is very fancy technology on small car.
First impressions are the new Megane
is a great little thing, but we will reserve
full judgment until we get the car in the
NRMA garage. – Jaedene Hudson
FIAT 500X POP STAR
shifter. The situation isn’t so terrific for
rear seat passengers, though. The seats
are comfortable enough and foot room is
good, but a six-footer will find leg and head
room wanting. We also noted some wind
noise at high speeds.
With the base model Pop starting at
$26,000 , the 500X isn’t cheap. But it does
have has all the style and charisma of the
Fiat 500, while adding another two doors
and a proper boot. – Kris Ashton
ENGINE: 1.6 -litre
ANCAP: Not yet tested
NOT AS ROOMY
Conquer corners with
SUV styling without the
ENGINE: 1.4 -litre turbocharged four-cylinder TRANSMISSION:
six-speed automatic POWER: 103kW TORQUE: 230Nm
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 5.7L/100km (claimed) ANCAP: Not yet
tested PRICE: From $32,000 (plus ORC)
OR0716_MOTOR_Q70 + Fiat + Mini + Renault.indd 42
14/06/2016 3:09 pm
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