By: Jason Woosey
Johannesburg - From egg-shaped to bootyliciously quirky to forgettably conservative, the first three generations of Megane have been, in styling terms, somewhat all over the place, and so Renault will no doubt be hoping that it's found a tasteful and happy balance with the fourth generation, just launched in South Africa.
Generation four certainly gets off to a good start with a slightly longer and lower shape that clearly takes some inspiration from the curvaceous latest-generation Clio, particularly around the shoulder-line and rear section, but the Golf rival does have its fair share of unique design cues, particularly those C-shaped headlights and taillights that stop just short of colliding.
GT is practically a hot hatch
The South African line-up spans three engine choices and we'll start with the most exciting, the 1.6-litre turbopetrol fitted to the range-topping Mégane GT. Developing 151kW and 280Nm, the TCe 205 mill is almost powerful enough to rival the Golf GTI (162kW/350Nm) and while we're talking hot hatches, there will certainly be an RS version at some point, but Renault has yet to reveal it.
Besides the powerful motor, sportier design touches and 18-inch alloys, the Mégane GT also sets itself apart from its humbler siblings with a four-wheel steering system, which Renault calls 4Control. The 1.6T engine is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch EDC automated gearbox and Renault claims the hatch will sprint to 100km/h in just 7.1 seconds.
Turbo or naturally aspirated?
Renault's mid-range contender is the Mégane GT-Line, powered by the 97kW/205Nm TCe130 1.2-litre turbopetrol engine and this one's available in both six-speed manual and seven-speed EDC guises. At the most affordable end of the range is a Dynamique model featuring the comparatively old-fashioned 1.6-litre normally aspirated engine, rated at 85kW and 156Nm.
Interior and gadgets
Inside the Dynamique makes do with an 18cm R-Link touch-screen infotainment system with TomTom navigation, while those above it gain a 22cm vertical screen along with additional satin chrome finishes and Alcantara seat trim.
GT-Line and GT versions also get Renault's Multi-Sense gadget that allows drivers to adjust the car's throttle, engine, gearbox and steering characteristics.
Furthermore, the aforementioned models are available with Blind Spot Warning and Easy Park Assist, but you'll have to pay extra for them.
1.6 Dynamique: Standard features include 16-inch alloys, automatic climate control, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, 18cm touch-screen infotainment system with satnav and Bluetooth, dual front, side and curtain airbags, ABS and ESP.
1.2T GT-Line: Adds 17-inch alloys, 'GT' style bumpers, Alcantara seat trim, leather steering wheel, electronic parking brake, 22cm touch-screen, heated driver's seat,
1.6T GT: Adds: 18-inch alloy wheels, Full LED headlights and four-wheel steering.
1.6 Dynamique - 85kW/156Nm - R279 900
1.2T GT-Line - 97kW/205Nm - R339 900
1.2T GT-Line EDC - 97kW/205Nm - R354 900
1.6T GT EDC - 151kW/280Nm - R449 900
Ford Focus hatch 1.0T Trend - 92kW/170Nm - R272 900
Mazda3 hatch 1.6 Active - 77kW/144Nm - R271 800
Opel Astra hatch 1.0T Enjoy - 77kW/170Nm - R284 300
Renault Megane 1.6 Dynamique - 85kW/156Nm - R279 900
Opel Astra hatch 1.4T Sport - 110kW/230Nm - R354 000
Peugeot 308 1.2T GT-Line - 96kW/230Nm - R357 900
Renault Megane 1.2T GT-Line - 97kW/205Nm - R339 900
VW Golf 1.4 TSI Comfortline - 92kW/200Nm - R337 100
Opel Astra hatch 1.6T Sport Plus - 147kW/300Nm - R407 000
Peugeot 308 1.6T GT - 151kW/285Nm - R399 900
Renault Megane 1.6T GT EDC - 151kW/280Nm - R449 900
VW Golf GTI auto - 162kW/350Nm - R485 500
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