Motoring review – A Mégane for everyone

2014-08-26 18:45

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Renault has recently updated its striking Mégane range, aimed at image-conscious, tech-savvy individuals.

Although the French car manufacturer falls into the nonpremium brand category, its new Mégane is hellbent on competing with VW’s Golf, the BMW 1 Series and the Mercedes-Benz A-class. And it has good reason to do so.

The fresh-faced Mégane range now comprises three derivatives with two new engines. The entry-level Mégane Dynamique 81kW (R249?900) will keep its 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine. Sadly, the 1.6?dCi turbo-diesel model is a thing of the past in South Africa.

The other two, the Mégane GT-Line Turbo 97kW (R279?900) and the GT Turbo 162kW (R329?900), were available to the press.

The first Renault we sampled at the launch in Gauteng was the Mégane GT-Line Turbo 97kW with its 1.2-litre turbocharged engine.

Although it boasts impressive performance figures, in real driving conditions, its engine was uninspiring and had unmistakable turbo-lag, which means you hit the accelerator and the message to the engine feels delayed. But it does spring to life eventually and the power sacrifice is worth Renault’s fuel consumption figure of just 5.4?litres per 100km.

So if you’re not shy of stirring the six-speed manual gearbox and value fuel economy over performance, the GT-Line offers good value for money.

On day two, we had the pleasure of driving the frisky 2.0-litre Mégane GT Turbo 162kW, which packs considerably more punch. This Mégane is aimed at souls who need something sporty

and powerful without having to pay through the nose for fuel. In Renault’s words, it offers “spirited performance for everyday use”.

The chassis and suspension are tuned for comfortable driving even though the car has the same low-profile tyres as the performance orientated Mégane RS Luxe.

At the Tarlton International Raceway near Krugersdorp, I weaved between orange cones and was very impressed with the GT Turbo’s agility and sure-footedness.

To compete with the premium brands, Renault has filled every Mégane to the brim with safety and tech specs. All Méganes are fitted with a TomTom GPS system.

Our GT Turbo model had gorgeous, two-tone leather seats of dove-grey and black, optional for R12?000 extra. The build quality is top-notch and the contemporary cabin feels rather luxurious. Rear visibility is not great so the standard rear-parking sensors come in handy.

All Méganes are fitted with environmentally-friendly stop-start technology, which means the engine cuts out if the car comes to a stop and restarts as one pulls away.

Safety features include ABS braking with EBD, antiwhiplash headrests, four airbags, stability control and ESP with antislip regulation. All three versions are available as hatchbacks or coupés, at the same price and with the same specifications.

Each Renault comes with a five-year/150?000km warranty and a standard five-year/90?000km service plan with 24-hour roadside assistance.

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