The Megane was penned by Renault’s chief designer Laurens van den Acker.   Picture: MARK SMYTH
The Megane was penned by Renault’s chief designer Laurens van den Acker. Picture: MARK SMYTH

As you will have read in a previous edition of Motor News, we recently welcomed another French model to our long-term test fleet. It arrived in the shape of the Megane in current flagship GT specification.

Following our surprisingly good stint with the brand’s Kadjar this past year, we jumped at the opportunity to put the latest Megane through its paces over the next 12 months.

It might be one of the bestselling models in its segment in Europe, but it seems that the Megane nameplate has not quite managed to emulate locally the sales success of the second-generation model, which received a warm welcome from the South African public, even managing to scoop the coveted South African Car of the Year competition in 2004 with the 1.9 dCi variant.

Nonetheless, I am a fan of the previous generation’s GT220 model, which offered good everyday performance, thanks to the 162kW 2.0l turbo engine and a slightly softer, but Renault Sport fettled, suspension.

Launched in the third quarter of 2016, the current Megane is a stellar product and I was quite sad to learn that it missed the 2017 SA Car of the Year eligibility by only a few days, as it would have stood a great chance of giving the Opel Astra, the reigning Car of the Year, a run.

The interior is great, particularly the tablet style infotainment screen.  Picture: QUICKPIC
The interior is great, particularly the tablet style infotainment screen. Picture: QUICKPIC

The current Megane has been penned by Laurens van den Acker, the chief designer at Renault. It is a looker with its stylish head and rear light clusters, 18-inch alloy wheels and contrasting grey mirrors.

Thankfully, the design flair also trickles into the cabin where, in the instance of our GT model, form-hugging bucket front seats are some of the most comfortable in the segment, while the quality of the materials easily matches those of the segment leaders. The 12.3-inch tablet-like infotainment screen livens up the cabin.

Overall space is good and, once again, on a par with most of the segment’s advocates.

Motivating our model is a 1.6l turbo unit, which it shares with the Clio RS, but in this application makes 151kW and 280Nm driving the front-wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

The digital dash is a great touch and that 4control logo shows the car has rear-wheel steering.     Picture: QUICKPIC
The digital dash is a great touch and that 4control logo shows the car has rear-wheel steering. Picture: QUICKPIC

Our initial impression of the vehicle is it is comfortable on the daily commute with the suspension feeling decidedly supple, while the first-in-class rear-wheel steering means parking is a doddle. The system can be felt when turning tight corners or changing lanes in gridlocked traffic where steering inputs are relatively minimal compared to most conventional cars.

We are running the vehicle in, it having arrived with only 874km on the clock, so the full potential of its performance and fuel consumption are yet to be confirmed, although the latter is hovering around 9.4l/100km, which is a far cry from the claimed 7.1l/100km.

We are still getting acquainted with the ins and outs of this stylish and comfortable C-segment hatch and will delve more into some of its long list of standard equipment, which will likely justify the relatively high price tag. For now though, it is a hearty bienvenue to this stylish French hatch in our garage.

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