LE RETOUR FRANÇAIS

Re­nault’s fourth gen­er­a­tion Mé­gane is a hand­some and classy affair

Car (South Africa) - - DRIVE - RE­NAULT MÉ­GANE 97 KW TURBO GT-LINE PRICE: ETA:

Ask any South African to name a mod­ern Re­nault and I’ll bet the Mé­gane is very likely at the top of the list – much like “Golf” would be the an­swer if you re­placed Re­nault with Volkswagen. It’s no won­der given that this C-seg­ment hatch spear­headed the French firm’s re-en­try into the lo­cal mar­ket and, since in­tro­duc­tion in 1996, over 25 000 five-door Mé­ganes have been sold here over three gen­er­a­tions. Now, Re­nault SA plans to build on that solid foun­da­tion with the launch of the fourth-gen­er­a­tion model.

Much like its pre­de­ces­sors, the all-new ver­sion is a stylish affair and, in the looks depart­ment, it eas­ily holds its own against prime ri­vals, the Ford Fo­cus, Mazda3, Opel As­tra and Volkswagen Golf. Strik­ing C-shaped head­lamps are com­ple­mented by near body-wide tail­lamps, while a slightly lower height and wider stance than its pre­de­ces­sor present a sense of so­lid­ity. Over­all length has in­creased, as has the wheel­base, to the ben­e­fit of in­te­rior space.

In­side, the moder­nity and classy ap­pear­ance con­tinue, with soft-touch con­tact sur­faces and an up­graded R-link 2 in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem that fea­tures a full-colour touch­screen in­ter­face. Lower spec mod­els make do with a seven-inch dis­play, while higher up the range, a tablet-like 8,7-incher takes pride of place. In high-spec mod­els, the tac­tile in­te­rior trim is matched by grippy Al­can­tara seats.

Ini­tially, the range will con­sist of four mod­els. A nat­u­rally as­pi­rated 1,6-litre (84 kw/156 N.m) is the open­ing salvo, and top­ping the line-up is a 1,6-litre tur­bopetrol (151 kw/280 N.m). The for­mer is avail­able purely with a man­ual trans­mis­sion and the lat­ter solely in au­to­matic guise. The sweet spot of the range, how­ever, lies in be­tween these two and is a 1,2-litre tur­bopetrol avail­able only in mid-level Gt-line trim spec­i­fi­ca­tion that pro­duces 97 kw and 205 N.m. This model can be spec­i­fied with a man­ual or auto trans­mis­sion, with the lat­ter Re­nault’s EDC twin-clutch unit.

It was the man­ual ver­sion of this de­riv­a­tive that I sam­pled on the launch event held round Gaut­eng. On the open roads of the Bronkhorstspruit area, it never once felt like it was merely a 1,2-litre mo­tor pow­er­ing the Gt-line Mé­gane, and

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