The introduction of the new Mégane GT Line not only extends the Mégane lineage, but also sees Renault attempt to bridge the gap between their hardcore RS sport models and the mainstream hatchback.
The move comes in response to the “unprecedented” success of Renault’s sport models. In order to ride the wave, the GT Line takes various styling cues from its more focussed family members, both inside and out, together with minor engineering tweaks for better driving dynamics.
The front end is distinguished by a modified bumper that features a reshaped central air intake, with an RS-style gloss black centre. A contrasting aerodynamic diffuser slots into the lower section of the rear bumper, once again paying homage to the esteemed Renault Sport models and their motor racing lineage. This is complemented by a striking set of matte-grey 17-inch alloy wheels.
The instrumentation cluster continues the sporting theme with an analogue speedometer taking centre stage in the place of the standard model’s digital display, with a starkly contrasted white-faced rev counter with a red needle. The introduction of sports seats will also please enthusiasts thanks to added lateral support.
An aluminium pedal set keeps within the car’s spirited character, along with polished carbon door handles and ‘GT Line’ badging on the dashboard trim strip, head rests and front door sills.
While a trick looking body is one thing, to really deliver sporting credentials to a new customer base required an overhaul of the standard chassis and suspension. Accordingly, the ride height has been lowered by 12 mm to match that of the Coupé. The revised set-up also features stiffer springs and dampers all round, along with a lower front roll centre height for more precise handling and a more exhilarating driving experience.
Coupled to the new ‘horned’ subframe is a familiar MacPherson-type front suspension arrangement – engineered to provide impeccable directional precision. A programmed-deflection flexible beam is employed for the rear suspension, which is both lighter and more compact than a multi-arm solution for equivalent stiffness. The result is that road holding has been immeasurably improved, while a flick of the light steering results in an instant change of direction, albeit slightly lacking in raw feel.
Drive to the front wheels is provided by Renault’s 1.4 litre TCe (Turbo Control efficiency) motor, which produces 96kW and peak torque of 190Nm. As usual they’ve produced an engine that revs effortlessly, however if for no other reason it is remarkable thanks to a complete lack of turbo lag – as power delivery seems perfectly linear from behind the wheel. Granted, a few stirs of the slick-shifting six speed manual gearbox are required to get the GT Line on the boil, however it only adds to the thrill of driving.
Adding a little exclusivity to the GT Line is the introduction of Tom Tom’s LIVE navigation system. It links to live satellite updates and feeds to provide innovative online services, including HDTraffic, considered to be the best real-time traffic information service in the world. Best part is the service actually works, providing updates on traffic congestion for your selected route and suggesting quicker alternates – it’s so good in fact I wasn’t late for work once while guided by the Tom Tom.
Admittedly I was no fan of the standard Mégane hatch back, precisely because its styling wrote cheques the dynamics couldn’t cash. The subtle tweaks afforded to the GT Line mean this Mégane is the car I always wanted the original to be – and as they say, better late than never.
Price: R 249,900
Engine: 1397cc TCe, 4 cylinder Turbo
Power: 96 kW
Torque: 190 Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.6
Top speed (km/h): 200
Fuel consumption (l/100km): 6.6 (claimed)
First published in Autodealer KZN on 2 March 2012