The Mégane hatchback and coupérange have recently been enhanced with new styling and improved technology in order to bring the model range in line with the likes of the Golf 7. It is well equipped to start off with six airbags, cruise control, ESP with electronic anti-slip regulation (ASR), dual-zone climate control and fingertip steering-wheel controls.
I received the new GT-Line Turbo hatch with 97kW/205Nm (225Nm on overboost) from its 1.2-litre engine, which is more than the 96kW/190Nm 1.4-litre turbo which it replaces. Having driven the 1.4 turbo before, I have to report that the 1.2 simply did not feel as if it had as much grunt, which may be down to power delivery as the 1.2 feels more linear than the 1.4.
There’s still some lag and the smaller displacement can certainly be felt when you find yourself in the wrong gear climbing a hill. It does sprint from 0-100km/h in 9.7 seconds meaning it’s certainly no slouch. It also features a timing chain instead of a cambelt, which makes servicing cheaper after the service plan has expired.
There’s also a lovely six-speed manual transmission, however, I feel the same Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) transmission seen in the new Clio RS would have worked well in this model.
This would allow Renault to cater for the same market VW has, with its own superb DSG transmission. I’ve heard there are a few Clios running around with the EDC/1.2-litre turbo combination locally, so perhaps we’ll see this in future SA-bound Mégane models.
On paper, it’s also more efficient as the old car was claimed to sip 6.3 litres/100km whereas this new engine is said to use just 5.4 litres/100km. On my combined fuel cycle I struggled to get below 7.0 litres/100km, however, the vehicle had done well under 1 000km and I suspect will still improve as the engine loosens up.
The changes made to the exterior are immediate with the new Renault family face making an appearance in the new LED-clad front bumper, while there are the same 17-inch dark grey alloy wheels and a rear section with a silver diffuser.
Inside, there are supremely comfortable fabric/leather seats, Renault Sport clusters and a red line across the dashboard with a GT-Line signature. Inside, not much has changed, apart from the size of the infotainment screen. I still find there’s a lack of adequate cup holders inside while the sound system could be better, as anything above two thirds leads to distortion.
The infotainment screen is impressive though and features Live services like HD Traffic updates with route optimization and Tom Tom, which finds specialist destinations. The GT Line also has a traditional navigation system including Bluetooth, USB port and rear-park-assist.
Overall, I feel that if one wants a great hatchback - in the sub-R300 000 segment - the Golf 7 is more costly in 1.4-litre TSI Comfortline guise but is overall, a more solid product while the Frenchie is available as a coupé too and has price and style on its side (hatch or coupé are R279 900) along with a hefty five-year/150 000km warranty and five-year/90 000km service plan.