Renault South Africa is a car company that's going places. Instead of just sitting back and resting on its laurels, the brand's actively touting for sales, and has a number of products in its arsenal that are all selling in decent numbers. The Renault Clio 4, Sandero range and the Duster are selling well and the brand is in a great position.
The Renault Megane is one of the brand's traditional models and it recently had a facelift and the range was adjusted. We were at the launch and came away feeling good about the Megane. Not long after that, we spent a week with the RenaultSport wannabe Megane GT in five-door trim and a business trip to JHB saw me drive a 1.2 Megane GT Line coupe for the week.
Brilliant 1.2-litre engineIf you're thinking a 1.2-litre engine is hopeless, then you're very much mistaken. See, the French know a thing or two about making a decent powerplant and this H5FT engine in the GT Line is seriously good. Figures wise, you're looking at 97 kW and 205 Nm. I can remember the days when some 2.0-litre engines had this amount of power. In fact, the outgoing GT Line had a 1.4-litre turbo and that had 96 kW and 190 Nm, which shows you how far downsized, turbocharged engines have come.
Aside from the torque which makes overtaking simple, the fuel economy is to be commended. Renault claims 5.4L/100km, but in reality you're looking at 6L/100km - still impressive for something that's marketed as a sporty coupe.
Features and Specification galoreStandard specification is where the Renault Megane GT Line will please you. For a model costing under R300 000, it's well equipped and the French aren't fans of options. You get integrated satnav with TomTom LIVE services (traffic updates, accident warnings and speed camera alerts), radio Mp3/CD player with USB/Aux inputs, Bluetooth connectivity with hands-free telephone, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, automatic wipers, cruise control with speed limiter, and comprehensive trip computer.
In terms of safety, there's six airbags, stability control (which can't be turned off completely as it re-engages at around 50km/h) as well as potent ABS brakes.
How does it drive?The Renault Megane 1.2 GT Line in coupe form is a pleasant drive. While it may not have that premium feel of, say a Golf 7, the Megane feels inherently more sporty as it has a firmer ride. The six-speed gearbox is solid and has a positive feel, and the engine is just superb. The car comfortably cruises at the national highway speed limit and when called upon, can deliver credible overtaking ability. It's just so smooth and there's a very subtle noise from the tiny turbo as the revs build.
Throw some corners into the mix and the Renault Megane GT Line delivers some smiles. It's meant to be a little sporty and it acquits itself well. While it's no RenaultSport, you get the feeling that there's some fun to be had and you don't need to wring the car's neck to find it. The suspension is sporty, but still decent enough to be a comfortable daily driver.
Conclusion and summarySo, should you take a Renault Megane GT Line over its rivals? The Volkswagen Golf 7 will always be the sensible choice in this segment, but that sensibility comes at a higher price tag plus you'll have to pay extra for the niceties that the Megane has standard. If you're not a fan of a two-door coupe, you can opt for the five-door hatchback for the same price. Despite only having two doors, the back isn't as cramped as you'd think, and the boot offers generous depth.
Gripes? Well I have a few. The satnav/infotainment interface is not the easiest to use the first few times and it does take a while to familiarise yourself with it. As an owner, you'll be fine after the first month. The famous Renault card key is still around and it's just silly. If the Koreans can make neat and practical key fobs, why can't the French? The seats are sporty and well bolstered, but perhaps a little tight fitting. Anyone who is a little fuller figured may find them intrusive and uncomfortable.
Overall, the Renault Megane 1.2 GT Line makes a good case for itself and thanks to that superb engine, I'd choose it over the faster, pricier GT 220 we drove not so long ago.
Renault Megane 1.2 GT Line quick specs
|Engine||1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol|
|0-100km/h||9.7 seconds (claimed)|
|Fuel economy||5.4L/100 km (claimed)|
We dislike: . Infotainment / Satnav not very intuitive for first-time users . Seats are very sporty and may not suit everyone