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