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ROAD TEST - Renault Mégane Coupe GT Line:
Must admit I had a bit of a soft spot for the previous Renault Mégane.
Sure, it was a controversial design and some people didn't like the way it shook its butt, yet I liked the way it combined braveness and beauty. Naturally, my weakness for hot hatches also earned the RS a place in my heart, but I also found the GT model strangely appealing.
Using a detuned, 120kW version of Renault's 2-litre turbopetrol, it offered a smoother power delivery and better ride, yet still enough power to have fun with.
When first hearing about the latest GT Line featured here, I thought much the same would apply. For starters, I was chuffed that they are also offering it as a Coupe this time around as the latest five-door hatch is just drearily dull looking compared to its predecessor.
In the case of the Coupe, the GT Line means it only gets better on the design front, with that over-designed front bumper of the standard Coupe replaced by a new unit with an RS-style gloss black centre section. Designers also insisted on anthracite grey mirror housings, dark metal-coloured 17-inch alloys and a rear diffuser. The overall effect strikes a good balance between subtle and sporty.
Now comes the part where I wish I could tell you that they dropped in the same 120kW 2-litre engine that is predecessor had.
But that was never part of the plan. Instead, buyers will have to make do with the 1.4-litre turbopetrol engine found in other Megane models. This TCe engine delivers just 96kW at 5500rpm and 190Nm from 2250rpm and for a car costing R259 900, it doesn't have a lot of get-up-and-go.
Firstly, there is a fair bit of turbo lag off the mark and you really need to wind it past the 3000 mark to start feeling any punch and even here it's not a fist that's going to win many fights.
Yet provided you're looking for more of a cruiser than a bruiser, the GT Line does offer a pretty pleasant drive. The only real gripe is that the clutch takes too quickly, making it easy to stall, but you'll eventually become accustomed to that and perhaps appreciate aspects like the smooth gearshift action and fairly intuitive steering.
CABIN A CLASS ACT
Sitting inside the GT Line, you'll also soon realise where the engine money went. The cabin is truly a class act.
Where do I begin? The dashboard is neatly designed and clad in very classy materials. Comfy leather seats are standard, as is an integrated TomTom satellite navigation system - still a rarity in modern cars despite the fact that these systems are no longer expensive to produce.
This Renault also comes with a very decent Arkamys 3D Sound audio system, dual-zone climate control, automatic wipers and headlights and cruise control. It really leaves you wanting for nothing.
Except, the passengers you relegate to the back won't share those sentiments unless they're small kids. Leg room is tight and there's only just enough head room for an average-sized adult - and that's the price they pay for the car's sexy shape.
Style and luxury are the two keywords that come to mind when summing up the GT Line Coupe. And until the Opel Astra GTC is launched in about a month from now, it doesn't have too much in the way of direct competition in its size class, besides the lesser-equipped Audi A3 and Volvo's C30 - both of which are nearing the end of their life cycles.
Audi A3 1.4T Attraction (92kW) - R259 755
Renault Mégane Coupe GT Line (96kW) - R259 900
VW Scirocco 1.4 TSI Highline (118kW) - R299 800
Volvo C30 D2 Essential (84kW diesel) - R260 600