ALL GAIN FROM THE MEGANE
THE aerodynamic hatch looks like a 2.0litre and goes better than a lot of other 2.0litres but Renault’s latest Megane Gtline actually has just 1.2litres of engine under its swoopy bonnet.
However, a turbocharger and some smart engineering give the mighty mouse motor some serious roar, while at the same time consuming comparatively little fuel.
The sexy Frenchmobile seems to combine a fine balance of pep and economy, while also providing good space, comfort and a great many features for its $32,490 asking price.
The Megane range starts with the $22,490 Life, then Zen at $5000 more, next comes the Gt-line, as tested, and the top one is the GT, a 1.6-litre turbo with quite a lot more punch, at $6000 more.
The Gt-line looks like the latter and also has a leather-rimmed sports steering wheel and body-hugging sports seats, but uses the same 1.2 motor and seven-speed dual-clutch autobox as the Zen.
Standard fare includes Alcantara seats with heating, cruise control, power mirrors, keyless auto-entry and start, dualzone climate control air-conditioning and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation. There’s also Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, an eight-speaker digital radio, slots for aux and USB, automatic-dimming rear-view mirror, front parking sensors with auto park assist and electric panoramic sunroof.
That adds up to a lot of car. Typical French finesse is in the colourselectable interior mood lighting that illuminates the front and rear seat trim strips.
We also liked the keyless entry thingo, a neat off-white plastic card that looks like a small cellphone, which apart from unlocking the doors and swinging the auto-folding mirrors out, allows you to activate the start button. Tres classy.
Our test car came with the worthwhile option of a bigger touchscreen, Bose audio and LED headlights, which added just on $2000.
What does it drive like? Well, we were most impressed.
The 97kw/205nm engine is a true David slaying Goliath unit, with peppy performance – zero to 100km/h in about 10 seconds – and the seven-speed automatic is a honey.
Handling is top-drawer, with the steering, suspension and fat tyres on the 17-inch alloys. The ride is quiet, comfy and composed and a keen driver will be delighted with the car’s inherent sporty character.
The Megane Gt-line has an official fuel consumption figure of 5.6litres/100km, but we were happy with the 7.1 we got.
The sole item we didn’t care for were the thick A-pillars, which are common these days in the pursuit of a 5-star safety rating, at the expense of impeded vision.
Verdict: A very well equipped good looker with panache, great road manners and economy. A 4.9 star sweetie.