5 ways to save money on a new car

5 ways to save money on a new car

5 ways to save money on a new carSeptember is nearly upon us: the month of children returning to school, X Factor returning to our screens and, er, a registration-plate change.

If you’re keen to buy a new 66-plate car, follow our guide to get the best deal from your local dealer.

Buy the outgoing model5 ways to save money on a new car

Manufacturers replace their cars every six years on average, with facelifts half-way between – plus minor tweaks to specifications every year. Just like with phones and gadgets, some of us have to have the latest version. But cars don’t suddenly become irrelevant just because they’re not this year’s model.

If you’ve decided which car you want, do some research about how old it is. Is it due to be replaced? If so, use this as a negotiating point. The dealer will want to shift soon-to-be-outdated cars and might offer a big discounts if it’s about to be replaced.

Sell your part-ex car privately5 ways to save money on a new car

Unless the car you’re selling fits in with the dealer’s stock, they’re unlikely to put it on the forecourt. Instead, they’ll punt it on at auction at trade price – so don’t expect to get anywhere near a private-sale price if you have a part-exchange.

While there are companies that will buy your car for cash, they’re just as likely to sell your car through auction. That means they’re unlikely to offer more than a dealer for a part-ex. With more and more people buying via finance, the days of turning up cash-in-hand and expecting a huge discount are over.

Shop around5 ways to save money on a new car

In the age of the internet, it’s easier than ever to shop around. We do it with everything, from groceries to electrical appliances. So why not cars? Brokers such as DrivetheDeal.com can find you enormous savings on new cars, while Carwow.co.uk lets dealers ‘bid’ for your custom.

You might not feel comfortable buying a car online, but websites like these should give you an idea of the savings available. If it’s a new car and marginal savings are available online, the salesman at your local dealer won’t have a lot to play with either. Conversely, if larger discounts are available, ask your dealer to match them. They’ll probably be able to get very close.

Choose a petrol engine5 ways to save money on a new car

Diesel cars are being given an increasingly rough time. The Volkswagen ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal, along with an ongoing NOx emissions crackdown in London, means running a diesel could work out more expensive than you think. Add to that an increased likelihood to go wrong thanks to temperamental particulate filters a few years down the line, and you could well be much better off with a petrol – especially if you don’t cover high miles.

Petrols are generally cheaper than their diesel equivalents to buy when new, and bad press for diesels could mean they hold their value better long-term. Petrol fuel is also usually cheaper to buy, plus efficient downsized petrol engines can be just as cheap to run.

Be friendly5 ways to save money on a new car

Yes, it might sound odd, but it pays to be friendly towards the salesman. They want to build a rapport with you – and if you’re pleasant and honest with them, they’ll try their to best to get you a good deal. If you go in pretending to be a hardened negotiator, they’ll be less likely to play ball.

Be open about any deals you’ve seen elsewhere and give yourself plenty of time to negotiate. It’ll be more pleasant for all concerned if you visit during a quiet period with a couple of hours set aside – rather than trying to order a new car 10 minutes before closing time.

Honda NSX: Retro Road Test

Honda NSX: Retro Road Test

Honda NSX: Retro Road Test

This is Honda’s take on the Ferrari 328 (and later, the Ferrari 348). The Japanese firm reckoned it could do what the Italians were doing, but better – making a more reliable, practical and faster car for a lower price tag.

Read another Retro Road Test on Motoring Research

The result was the NSX, launched at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show and on sale in the UK early in 1991. It featured an ultra-stiff, lightweight, all-aluminium chassis, while F1 champion Ayrton Senna was on hand to assist with development.

What are its rivals?

What are its rivals?

As well as being a Japanese alternative to the Ferrari 348, the NSX also took on the ever-popular Porsche 911. It sold in much smaller numbers than the Porsche (and even the Ferrari), so there are fewer in the classifieds today.

Which engine does it use?

What engine does it use?

Initially, the Honda NSX was powered by a 3.0-litre quad-cam 24-valve VTEC V6. However, later models, such as the one tested here, saw displacement increased to 3.2 litres. When this change was made in 1997, power was boosted to 280hp and a new six-speed manual gearbox was introduced. The 3.2-litre NSX could hit 62mph in 5.7 seconds and was good for 168mph.

The lesser 3.0-litre was still available, but only with the oft-lambasted four-speed automatic gearbox.

What’s it like to drive?

What’s it like to drive?

To someone more used to the easy driveability (and blandness) of modern supercars, the NSX is incredible. It feels like a supercar should – how we’d want a supercar to drive if we could go back to a time when manufacturers weren’t pandering to ever-more-stringent emissions and safety regulations.

The engine is out of this world. It wails like a nymphomaniac on acid. You hit the redline at 8,000rpm, but before you get to that point the VTEC variable valve timing kicks in and you surge down the road in a much more satisfying way than a modern turbo engine could manage.

The steering, with its variable power assistance, is incredibly precise. It’s such a satisfying car to drive fast, with every inch of grip being felt through your fingers. You can’t forget that this is a mid-engined supercar, which will no doubt bite if you go beyond its (and your) limits, but it’s also surprisingly friendly.

Reliability and running costs

Reliability and running costs

This was the NSX’s trump card when it was new – and it’s still the case today. It should be fairly bulletproof, certainly by supercar standards, while servicing shouldn’t break the bank either. You might want to budget for rear tyres, however – they tend to only last for around 6,000 miles or so, and cost around £150 each.

Officially, Honda quotes NSX fuel economy as 22.0mpg. But enjoy the VTEC and you’ll be visiting petrol stations just as often as you would in a Ferrari.

Could I drive it every day?

Could I drive it every day?

While you’d be mad to run a Ferrari of this era as a daily driver, the Honda NSX is a slightly more sensible proposition. The interior, while on the bland side, is hard-wearing, and it feels like you could cover longer journeys in comfort.

But – and we often trot out this caveat in the Retro Road Test – it would be a shame to use an NSX every day. It didn’t sell in huge numbers when it was new (people weren’t prepared to stump up the high asking price for a Honda) and it’s even rarer today. Even the latest, facelift models (such as the one tested here) are now more than 12 years old – and difficult to find in the classifieds. If you buy one, perhaps also get a Jazz for daily duties – the NSX will feel even more special at weekends.

How much should I pay?

How much should I pay?

A budget of £40,000 will get you a good choice of NSXs – making it a performance bargain in our eyes. Yes, there are faster, newer supercars out there, but there’s very little on the market that feels so special for the money. Push your budget for a good one and it’ll be a sound investment.

What should I look out for?

What should I look out for?

While the NSX is fairly robust, consumables can be costly, so try to find one that’s had work already done. Cambelts need to be replaced every eight years or 72,000 miles at a cost of around £2,000, while a new clutch can set you back £1,500.

It’s worth looking for signs of crash damage. Check panel gaps and, of course, the more history a car has, the better.

Should I buy one?

Should I buy one?

Yes. We enjoyed the late-facelift model tested here, and its rarity means it could make for a good investment. That said, many find older examples, with their pop-up headlights, more appealing. Go for whichever floats your boat – but we would advise avoiding the automatic gearbox. The manual is really slick and much more desirable.

With prices starting at around £30,000, the NSX strikes us as a bit of a steal. It feels so much more special than its price tag suggests, and it should be a fairly easy car to run, too. Buy a good one and you’re not going to lose money on it.

Pub fact

Pub fact

Senna’s involvement with the NSX came about when a team of engineers were out testing their new supercar at Suzuka in Japan. The F1 champion was there with McLaren, and was encouraged to take the Honda out for a few laps. He did, and despite Honda making the NSX as stiff as rivals, Senna reported that it was too soft.

Engineers went back to the drawing board, made the NSX 50% stiffer and tweaked the chassis to make it better to drive – something they’d continue to do throughout the car’s life.

Britain’s worst city to drive in revealed… and it’s not London!

Britain’s worst city to drive in revealed… and it’s not London

Britain’s worst city to drive in revealed… and it’s not London!

Birmingham has been revealed as the city most of us dread driving in – with Spaghetti Junction identified as ‘traffic hell’ for motorists in the Midlands.

The survey of 2,240 UK drivers by VoucherCodesPro.co.uk found that 22% considered Birmingham to be the worst city to drive in, closely followed by London with 21% of the vote. Other nightmare cities include Bristol (17%), Liverpool (15%) and Cambridge (14%).

When asked to elaborate on what aspect of these cities put them off driving there, 57% of those who said Birmingham cited the Gravelly Hill Interchange (Spaghetti Junction) and 49% of those who stated London disliked the M25.

George Charles, spokesperson for the website that conducted the survey, said: “Driving in a new place for the first time can always be a daunting task, but no more so than when your route takes you through Spaghetti Junction, or into a long queue on the M25 while trying to manoeuvre your way around London.

“It’s great to tackle these though, and not let the fears and worries put you off. Always keep alert, stay fully focused on the road and what’s going on around you, and where possible have a sat nav installed to help you navigate the lanes and turnings.”

The most common issues faced by drivers in cities include getting lost (34%), getting stuck in traffic (28%) and experiencing road rage (21%).

Despite this, the survey also found that more than a third of motorists still enjoy the freedom of driving.

5 people who hate driving in Birmingham

Toyota Burnaston

Britain has built 1 million cars already in 2016

Toyota BurnastonNew car production in Britain is marking a full year of growth by topping the 1 million year-to-date production total, the SMMT has revealed.

1,023,723 cars have been built in the UK thus far this year, a 12.3% increase on 2015 figures – and, encouragingly, exports have outpaced even this growth, with volumes sent overseas up 13.7%.

This is particularly good news for post-Brexit UK: the fall in the value of the pound makes exports more lucrative for car makers.

The running total is the best performance since 2000 and it’s the first time since 2004 that volumes have risen above 1 million in the first seven months.

“UK car production in 2016 is booming,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes, “with new British-built models in demand across the world.”

So far in 2016, 77.8% of UK car production has been exported overseas – that’s almost 800,000 vehicles.

“Manufacturers have invested billions to develop exciting new models and produce them competitively in the UK.”

But what about the risks of Brexit and car makers taking investment to other countries? Hawes indirectly addressed this too.

“Future success will depend on continued new car demand and attracting the next wave of investment, so Britain must demonstrate it remains competitive and open for business.”

Over to you, government ministers…

Volkswagen Tiguan

Volkswagen has put a Golf GTI engine in a Tiguan

Volkswagen TiguanFresh from rolling out the new Tiguan with some tempting introductory finance deals, Volkswagen is adding further allure to its crisply-styled new compact SUV with two range-topping new engines.

A twin-turbo 2.0-litre with 240 hp tops the range; it’s the most powerful diesel SUV in its segment, boasts Volkswagen.

With a stoking 368lb-ft of torque, both 4MOTION all-wheel drive and a seven-speed DSG automatic are helpfully standard: on-street kudos is added by trapezoidal tail pipes.

But the really exciting engine is the 220 hp 2.0-litre TSI turbo petrol – because that’s been transplanted straight from the Golf GTI, says Volkswagen.

The hot hatch motor gives hot hatch acceleration in this hot SUV: 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds, although a top speed of 136mph is dulled somewhat by the more bluff profile of the tall body.

Again, for maximum ease of beating Ford Fiesta ST from the lights, Volkswagen fits 4MOTION and DSG as standard, and is likely to offer the 2.0 TSI solely in range-topping R-Line trim.

It probably won’t be cheap, though: a 2.0 TSI 180 R-Line already costs £34,460. And the 2.0 TDI 240 will probably be a few thousand pounds on top of that.

Cue the £40,000 Tiguan? Perhaps it’s a good thing those finance deals are so good…

Buy a new Volkswagen Tiguan for £229 a month

Buy a new Volkswagen Tiguan for £229 a month

Buy a new Volkswagen Tiguan for £229 a month

Ahead of the 66-plate introduction next week, Volkswagen has announced a series of finance offers for its popular new Tiguan SUV.

When we drove the new Tiguan earlier this year, our biggest criticism of the revamped crossover was the high retail price – with the current entry-level 2.0-litre diesel starting at more than £25,000.

But today’s announcement has gone some way to offsetting those concerns, offering the Tiguan S for just £229 a month on its 5.1% Solutions PCP package.

That’s following a £1,000 deposit contribution from VW and a further £6,471 from you. Significant, but not unreasonable – especially if you have a car to trade-in.

The plan is split over four years, with an average mileage limit of 10,000 miles a year. After the four-year period, hand it back or purchase it outright for £10,167.

If you prefer to change cars regularly, Volkswagen is also offering the Tiguan R-Line through its personal contract hire scheme for £229 a month.

This is over two years, with a high initial rental of £9,744. Again, it might be easier to justify if you have a car to part-exchange.

Being the top-spec Tiguan R-Line, you’ll be able to enjoy 20-inch alloys, LED headlights and a 12.3-inch TFT colour display screen.

40,000 breakdowns expected this weekend: how to avoid being one of them

40,000 breakdowns expected this weekend: how to avoid being one of them

40,000 breakdowns expected this weekend: how to avoid being one of them

Research by breakdown provider Green Flag claims that 40,000 cars are expected to break down over the upcoming bank holiday weekend – with nearly a quarter of these caused by a faulty battery.

It comes as experts are predicting a ‘carmageddon’ as 20.7 million vehicles hit the roads in an attempt to make the most of the last long weekend before Christmas.

Saturday is likely to be the busiest day, with 5 million getaways planned and delays of more than hour expected in some areas.

Hire company Europcar has added to the concerns – revealing that just 12% of motorists in a car over six years old get it serviced ahead of a long journey. It also discovered that many drivers don’t bother with breakdown assistance.

Europcar UK’s operations director, Robert Shaw, said: “Just one in five (19%) of the people we surveyed are covered by roadside assistance, which means they could be stuck on the hard shoulder this bank holiday weekend.”

Data from Green Flag reveals that its customers wait an average of 47 minutes for rescue every time their car goes wrong – and high demand over the bank holiday could see drivers stranded for hours.

To prevent a breakdown, the company has launched a device which monitors your car’s battery and can alert you using an app if it detects an issue.

The plug-in unit, which costs £35 a year, is the size of a matchbox and can be fitted in minutes.

Green Flag’s head of rescue, Neil Wilson, said: “Although breakdowns can’t be avoided every time, with Green Flag Alert Me, drivers will be saved from unnecessary breakdowns caused by faults they weren’t aware of. Now, we’ll be with them on the whole journey – letting them know about potential issues before they turn into problems.”

10 essential car checks

To prevent a breakdown, Europcar has released this list of 10 essential car checks to complete ahead of a long journey.

1: Top up the fuel
2: Check tyre pressures
3: Check windscreen wash
4: Check oil
5: Top up coolant
6: Check light bulbs
7: Check the car is safely loaded
8: Add any key locations into the sat nav
9: Make sure the car has been recently serviced
10: Check the air con and heating

2016’s fastest accelerating production cars

2016’s fastest accelerating production cars

2016’s fastest accelerating production cars

Tesla has launched what it’s describing as ‘the fastest volume production car in the world’ – the Model S P100D with Ludicrous mode can accelerate from 0-60mph in just 2.5 seconds. That’s extraordinarily quick for a family saloon (especially with eco credentials). But how does it stack up against the fastest accelerating cars, full stop..?

For the sake of this feature, we’ll enforce a rule that a car has to be capable of a sub-3.5 seconds 0-62mph time to qualify for inclusion. So, that’s supercars such as the Mercedes-AMG GT S and Aston Martin DB11 eliminated already. We’re taking no prisoners. And, for simplicity’s sake (and to prevent 911 overload), we’ve taken the fastest version of each model.

Ferrari GTC4Lusso – 3.4 seconds

Launched at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, the Ferrari FF replacement that is the GTC4Lusso boasts a 3.4 second 0-62mph time and a staggering 208mph top speed. That’s in a car capable of carrying four people and gadgets including a new 10-inch infotainment screen.

Chevrolet Corvette Z06 – 3.4 seconds

While there are more finessed supercars featured here, the Corvette Z06 is one of the cheapest – costing around £90,000. The American brute is stonkingly quick compared to its closest rivals, hitting 62mph in 3.4 seconds and a top speed of 186mph.

Audi R8 Plus – 3.2 seconds

Audi R8 Plus - 3.2 seconds

Audi knows how to produce a quick car – its Audi RS6 Performance estate almost qualifies for inclusion here, hitting 62mph in 3.7 seconds. The R8 supercar has been tempting 911 buyers for 10 years now, with the second-generation model arriving last year and covering the 0-62mph run in 3.5 seconds even in ‘base’ spec. In R8 Plus guise, with power from its V10 engine boosted to 610hp, it’ll 62mph in 3.2 seconds.

Lamborghini Huracan – 3.2 seconds

The Lamborghini Huracan shares a platform and engine with the Audi R8 – but to drive, it feels surprisingly different. The four-wheel-drive LP 610-4 matches the R8 Plus’s 3.2 seconds 0-62mph sprint.

McLaren 570S – 3.2 seconds

Until the watered-down 540C came along, the 570S was an entry-level McLaren. An entry-level McLaren with a revised version of the same 3.8-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine as the the McLaren 650S and P1. It hits 62mph in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 204mph.

Noble M600 – 3.0 seconds

Noble M600 - 3.0 seconds

Built in a shed in Leicestershire, the M600 uses a twin-turbocharged Volvo V8 to produce up to 659hp – a hefty amount of power for a lightweight sports car made of a mixture of stainless steel and carbonfibre. It’ll hit 62mph in 3.0 seconds flat.

Ferrari 488 – 3.0 seconds

The old naturally-aspirated Ferrari 458 wouldn’t have qualified for this feature in standard form, but its turbocharged successor hits 62mph in 3.0 seconds flat. Both the GTB coupe and soft-top Spider versions take the same amount of time to accelerate to 62mph, while top speed is in excess of 200mph.

McLaren 650S – 3.0 seconds

A carbonfibre tub combined with a 3.8-litre twin turbo V8 makes for a Ferrari-baiting 0-62mph time in the McLaren 650S. Hitting 62mph takes 3.0 seconds in both the Spider and coupe variants. That’s 0.3 seconds quicker than its short-lived 12C predecessor.

Ferrari F12 TDF – 2.9 seconds

Ferrari F12 TDF - 2.9 seconds

While the regular Ferrari F12 Berlinetta doesn’t cut the mustard in performance terms (in our harsh sub-3.5 sec requirements, anyway), the track-ready F12 TDF hits 62mph in 2.9 seconds. That’s thanks to a 39hp power boost from its V12 engine (taking the total to 780hp), while 110kg has been shaved off the total weight. To help deploy such performance, an incredible 230kg of downforce is created using some trick aero.

Porsche 911 Turbo S – 2.9 seconds

The Porsche 911 Turbo S is arguably the 911 nobody needs. Lesser models (now turbocharged, too) offer easily plentiful performance for even the most enthusiastic of Autobahn drivers, but for bragging rights the Turbo S is the one to have. The latest incarnation hits 62mph in 2.9 seconds, a top speed of 205mph and has lapped the Nürburgring in 7min 18sec.

McLaren 675LT – 2.9 seconds

This is the result of McLaren’s engineers taking a 650S, improving as many bits as they possibly could, and producing a car that’s almost as fast as its flagship P1 hypercar. The McLaren 675LT shares many components with the P1, while 100kg has been shaved of the 650S’ weight. No wonder it can hit 62mph in 2.9 seconds.

BAC Mono – 2.8 seconds

BAC Mono - 2.8 seconds

Jeremy Clarkson described it as ‘amazing’. Yet another bonkers car from a small-time Brit, the BAC Mono boasts a power to weight ratio of around 525hp per tonne. No wonder it’ll hit 62mph in comfortably less than 3.0 seconds.

Lamborghini Centenario – 2.8 seconds

Revealed at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, the Centenario is Lambo’s Aventador-based supercar launched to commemorate Ferruccio Lamborghini’s 100th birthday. A tweaked version of the Aventador’s 6.5-litre V12 produces 770hp. Unfortunately, all 40 examples (20 coupes and 20 Roadsters) are sold out.

Lamborghini Aventador SV – 2.8 seconds

Sharing the Centenario’s engine, the performance-spec Aventador SV packs 750hp from its naturally-aspirated V12. Carbonfibre body panels and a stripped-out interior means it packs a dry weight of 1,525kg – 50kg less than the regular Aventador. It hits 62mph 0.1 seconds quicker than the standard model.

Nissan GT-R – 2.8 seconds

Nissan GT-R - 2.8 seconds

Nissan. The firm that once made the Bluebird, but now better known for its popular Qashqai crossover. It also makes the GT-R Skyline successor, launched in 2007 and getting ever-faster nearly a decade later. Top Gear magazine described the 2.8 second 0-62mph time of the latest GT-R as ‘frankly violent’. We won’t disagree.

Koenigsegg Regera – 2.8 seconds

The most bonkers thing to come out of Sweden, Koenigsegg describes its Regera as a ‘megacar’. We’ll go with that. At lower speeds, the Regera is powered by three electric motors, while a mid-mounted twin-turbo 5.0-litre V8 kicks in when you ask more from it.

Caterham Seven 620R – 2.8 seconds

If you’re going to accelerate from standstill to 62mph in less than 3.0 seconds, you probably want to be doing it in something fairly substantial. But the tiny, flimsy, ancient Caterham Seven can hit 62mph in 2.8 seconds in flagship 620R spec. The firm’s fastest ever road car, it’ll take serious guts to give it full whack on the commute – but you’ll probably giggle more than any other car featured here.

Radical SR8 RX – 2.7 seconds

Radical SR8 RX - 2.7 seconds

The Peterborough-built Radical SR8 is essentially a race car, but it can be registered as a road-legal vehicle. It holds the Nurburgring lap record, completing the legendary German circuit in 6 minutes, 48 seconds. Powered by a 2.7-litre V8 producing 430hp, the Radical will hit 62mph in 2.7 seconds and a top speed of 178mph.

Ariel Atom – 2.7 seconds

Put a 2.0-litre Honda VTEC engine into a car that weighs around half a tonne and you get a car that is seriously quick. With its exoskeleton frame, the Ariel Atom is guaranteed to be one of the fastest cars on a track day but, like the Caterham, we’d be a bit nervous about high-speed Autobahn runs.

Hennessey Venom GT – 2.7 seconds

The Hennessey Venom GT might look a bit like a Lotus Exige… that’s because it’s based on a heavily modified Lotus Exige. The car, tweaked by American firm Hennessy, set a Guinness World Record in 2013 for the fastest production car from 0–186 mph. It completed the run in an average 13.63 seconds.

Tesla Model S – 2.5 seconds

Tesla Model S - 2.5 seconds

And this is where the Tesla slots in. There is a caveat – the 2.5 seconds time Tesla’s bragging about is 0-60mph, not 0-62mph. In reality, that extra 2mph is unlikely to take more than a tenth of a second, as the Tesla’s electric powertrain means there’s no chance of a gear change fluffing up the 0-62mph sprint. But are Tesla’s ‘fastest car’ claims correct..?

Porsche 918/LaFerrari/McLaren P1

Technically, the Porsche 918/LaFerrari/McLaren P1 hypercar trio have no right to appear here as they’re no longer in production. But for comparison sakes, we thought we’d chuck them in. The LaFerrari covers it in ‘less than’ 3.0 seconds, while the Porsche 918 and McLaren P1 take 2.5 seconds. Yup, the Tesla is almost as fast as these three to 62mph.

Bugatti Chiron – sub-2.5 seconds

So this is the only road-going car currently on sale that’ll hit 62mph a fraction of a second quicker than the Tesla. Bugatti says its Chiron, the Veyron-successor, will reach 62mph in ‘less than’ 2.5 seconds. You’d kind of hope so, with an incredible 1,500hp from its 8.0-litre W16 quad-turbocharged engine. It’s limited to 261mph. But with just 500 Chirons expected to be sold, and a £1.9 million price tag, it’s still fair to describe the Tesla as ‘the fastest volume production car in the world’. Now click back and remind yourself of all the supercars the Tesla beats!

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

Renault Megane 1.6 TCE 205 GT Nav (2016) review

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)The new Renault Megane is such an important car for Renault, it couldn’t wait to let us drive it. We first drove it back in the tail end of 2015 but only now is it arriving in UK dealer showrooms. Time for a reminder of what the fourth generation of Renault’s Volkswagen Golf alternative is like.

A very good looking car indeed, that’s what it’s like. Easily the best-looking family hatch you can buy, no? The gorgeous design is particularly smart in some of Renault’s smart new colours, such as the Iron Blue hue our GT test car came in. Renault knows styling sells: the Megane will do well before people even get behind the wheel.

Prices and deals

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

The new Megane range starts from a very keen £16,600 but we went straight to the top of the range here with the 205 1.6-litre TCe GT Nav. Boasting a seven-speed EDC automatic as standard, it costs £25,500: that’s Ford Focus ST territory. The Ford perhaps is the exception though: a Volkswagen Golf GTI costs £28,500. The GT is a warm hatch Renault: the new Renault Sport Megane follows later…

Renault will happily give you £1,750 towards the deposit on its three-year PCP deal if you’re keen: with an APR of 3.99%, this means a GT Megane would cost £359 a month, with an up-front customer deposit of £3,301. That seems a bit steep to us: deals on rivals can take the monthly cost to below £300 a month.

What are its rivals?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

As mentioned, the new Megane GT is priced like a Ford Focus ST but has a 45hp power deficit; it’s not the full-fat hot hatch Renault’s planning to take on the Ford, Volkswagen and others. See it instead as a well-equipped, uniquely-styled warm hatch alternative to cars such as the Peugeot 308 GT and SEAT Leon FR.

Let’s hope the Renault’s bespoke styling and kit-packed cabin convinces customers: it looks pricey compared to a £21,285 Vauxhall Astra SRi Nav 1.6T 200 or a £23,610 Kia Cee’d GT. And back to that Focus ST: it starts at just £22,750, with even an ST-2 costing £1,000 less than the Renault…

What engine does it use?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

The 1.6-litre turbo engine is a Renault Nissan Alliance staple used in other hot models from the two brands; the Renault Sport Clio, Nissan Juke Nismo and Nissan Pulsar 1.6 DiG-T amongst others (well, two out of three ain’t bad…). 205 hp is complemented by 207lb-ft of torque. The dual-clutch EDC transmission is your only choice.

There’s something else too: Renault fits electronic rear-wheel steering to the Megane GT. With just 2.3 turns lock-to-lock, it’s very fast and gives the manoeuvrability of a much smaller car without trading stability at speed. Sector-unique tech, it’s a real standout feature of the GT.

How fast?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

The seven-speed EDC’s launch control function helps it consistently run 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds, just a hair’s breadth behind a Ford Fiesta ST. As there’s more chance of them fluffing a gearchange, your traffic light grand prix status should be secure. It’s capable of 143mph all-out.

How do you use Renault launch control? Left foot on the brake pedal, pull and hold both gearshift paddles until ‘Launch Control On’ flashes on the dash. Floor the accelerator, release the brake pedal: cue the perfect launch.

Is it comfortable?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

Big wheels mean the ride is a bit flaky in town, but it smooths out at speed. This is intentionally more GT than hot hatch so, if anything, the suspension might feel a touch too soft when you’re really chucking it about: generally, though, it’s a reasonably comfortable middle ground, with generally good body control. It’s quiet too, and Renault’s kept road bump-thump noise at bay.

Will I enjoy driving it?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

You’ll find driving the Megane GT fascinating for one reason: the rear-wheel steering. This gives it stand-out agility for a family hatch: you can feel the rear end turning as soon as you move the steering wheel, making it very responsive and sharp. It’s not unnerving though: while not particularly purist, it does make the GT more interesting to drive.

Fuel economy and running costs

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

In common with many fizzed-up downsized turbo petrols, the 47.1mpg claimed economy of this 205hp motor is impressive (and aided by the EDC gearbox’s efficient shift patterns in auto mode). CO2 of 134g/km will keep it out of 2017’s punitive £500 VED tax band and Renault’s four-year warranty can be combined with a £499 four-year service pack to further control running costs. Just be careful of those big 18-inch diamond-cut alloys on kerbs…

What’s the interior like?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

The dashboard is dominated by a big Tesla-style touchscreen that works really well. It’s a feature of the pricier Meganes and is worth the upgrade as it’s a treat to use. The GT’s ultra-deep, bolstered front seats are excellent, and the configurable electronic dial pack is top-notch. The steering wheel is gorgeous too.

Is it practical?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

It looks superb yet still has five doors and a hatchback: this is good. What’s less good is interior packaging. It’s OK up front. The problem is the rear. Getting in and out is tricky and legroom is far too tight for a supposed family-friendly car. Time and again this is a grumble of French family hatchbacks: despite its all-new platform, the new Megane is no exception.

The boot is decent on paper with a 384-litre load space (four litres more than a VW Golf, note), although the oddly broad sill might make it tricky for some – loading items in will be OK but getting them out might be a stretch. Oh, and why, Renault, is there such a large upswept wiper patch on the driver’s side, blocking inches of forward vision in the rain?

Tell me about the tech

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

Four-wheel steering turns the rear wheels opposite to the fronts at low speeds, to aid agility, then in the same direction at high speeds to boost stability. Full LED headlights are paired with fine-looking LED units at the rear and, within the Tesla-style touchscreen, ‘multi-sense’ driving mode settings allow you to customise a whole host of settings even down to the engine sound.

What about safety?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

Renaults always perform well in Euro NCAP crash tests and this new one isn’t an exception: it scored five stars in 2015. Standard safety kit includes lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, speed limiter and understeer detection: AEB automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control are a bargain £400 option.

Which version should I go for?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

The GT Megane currently only offers the warmish 205hp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine. If you want anything more economical, you’ll have to go for the cheaper GT-look GT Line Nav, which has 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre dCi diesel options. Next year, though, a 165hp twin-turbo 1.6-litre dCi will come in four-wheel-steer GT trim. We’d probably go for that one.

What’s the used alternative?

A Golf GTI is more expensive new but it’s certainly not secondhand: hunt out a nearly-new GTI or GTD for an appealing alternative to the Megane GT. If it’s not hot enough for you, also consider the runout Megane Renault Sport Cup-S (get one new, while you can, from £23,995, or much less if you can find a pre-registered one).

Should I buy one?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

We’d probably wait for that twin-turbo diesel, frankly. Or maybe the full-fat Renault Sport Megane. The GT is interesting, with its sharp four-wheel steering and beautiful styling (honestly, it’s a peach to look at). But it occupies an odd middle ground: British buyers in particular prefer hot to warm and, when a Ford Focus ST is so comparatively well priced (and, ironically, so much more practical), it’s hard to see how the Megane GT might sway you. Unless, that is, styling really does sell.

Pub fact

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

This may not be a Renault Sport Megane but Renault Sport has still had a hand in it, fitting bespoke springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. The chassis thus shows breeding missing from lesser Meganes and is a more satisfying warm hatch than most.

Kia Rio (2017)

New Kia Rio at 2016 Paris Motor Show

Kia Rio (2017)Kia will reveal an all-new Rio supermini at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, ahead of UK sales beginning in early 2017.

The new car has been teased here in sketches, showing a design that’s a clear evolution of the current model, but much tidier and neater in its execution.

Gone are the oddball creases in the front doors and smoother surfacing appears to give it a more premium look.

Kia Rio (2017)

Kia says the front overhang and bonnet are longer, for a better-balanced design, and a stretched wheelbase promises more interior space. The C-pillar is more upright than today’s model as well.

Inside, it has a “progressive” interior, one that appears to include provision for a smart touchscreen infotainment system that’s bigger and more sleekly integrated than today’s model.

Kia Rio (2017)

Boldly, Kia’s claiming “class-leading practicality” which, in a sector that includes the voluminous Honda Jazz amongst others, will be a claim to keep an eye on.

Ride and handling will be “more assured and engaging” and safety tech will also be class-leading. Engines? As it’s derived from the latest Hyundai i20, expect fancy new turbo petrols to feature heavily.

Kia reminds us of something not many know either: the Rio is its best-selling model globally, with nearly 475,000 units sold in 2015 alone. It’s thus an important car, one that’s been designed globally to ensure all markets are happy: Kia designers in South Korea, Frankfurt and California have all worked on developing the new Rio.

What time will we see the real thing? 1415h CET on 29 September, at Kia’s Paris Motor Show stand in Hall 3.