Beaucoup bling for the buck

Potential buyers who fancy cars that look trendy and sporty might like to consider adding the latest Renault Megane1.4-litre GT-Line coupé to their test-drive bucket list because not only is it a real fun-to-drive, head-turning cutie but it’s also remarkably well kitted out and has price-tag numbers of way below credit card meltdown.

I recently spent a week in the company of this two-door coupé and particularly liked its confident handling, zippy interior design and fancy features such as Carminat Tom Tom navigation, Arkamys sound system, with radio, CD player, MP3 and Bluetooth, dual zone climate control, classy leather upholstery, leather steering wheel, the GT-Line brag badges and the raunchy 17 inch alloys.

Overall the Renault Megane 1.4-litre GT-Line is a very attractive package although the turbo-fed go-factory under the bonnet doesn’t quite do justice to the car.

Out on the road the two-door doesn’t light many performance fires but its road-holding is super-cocky thanks to clever tweaks to the suspension and springs as well as the steadying assistance of an anti-sway bar. The steering is quite sharp and the brakes are surprisingly responsive… particularly when you hit the stop pedal the first few times. But they work well, thanks to ABS with emergency brake assist, emergency brake force distribution and ESP with anti-skid.

For the times when you are happy just to idle along the GT-Line also has cruise control to protect against painful pink tickets and excessive petrol glugging.

Safety features include front, side and curtain airbags and ISOFIX mountings for junior’s seat.

Nice living quarters

The living quarters are nicely laid out with attractive sporty touches such as wrap-around, fully-adjustable racing-style seats, height and reach adjustable steering wheel, an analogue speedometer, an ice-white rev counter with a racy red needle, polished carbon door handles, aluminium pedals and a well-positioned stubby gear lever that makes whipping through the six-speed manual box an absolute pleasure.

The two-door Megane’s cabin is a bit cramped and access to the compact rear is not easy and when you get there you will quickly discover if you’re of a larger frame that it’s not a place you would want to be if you are embarking on a long journey.

Overall a very attractive package although the turbo-fed go-factory under the bonnet doesn’t quite do justice to the car. It churns out 96kW and 190Nm which Renault claims will translate into a 0-100km/h sprint in 9.6 seconds and a top speed of 200km/h but unless you keep the revs up in the 5500r/pm red line district, it feels as sleepy as a Rovos Rail train ride through theKaroo.

The manufacturer says this GT-Line’s fuel consumption should be in the region of 6.6 litres/100km in the combined cycle but being more of a show-off city slicker type of car it is more realistic to look at its town thirst of just under 9 litres/100km.

Typical of coupé-styling the two-door Megane’s cabin is a bit cramped and access to the compact rear is not easy and when you get there you will quickly discover that it’s not a place you would want to be if you are embarking on a long journey. Narrow windows and sloping back also don’t make for great rear views.

The living quarters are nicely laid out with attractive sporty touches but the seats can be a little tight for those with the aahh… um… more ample derriere.

The seat belts for the front occupants are also positioned far back and it requires quite a twisting movement to grab hold of them and to drag them forward.

A slightly tight fitThe front seats, though handsome to look at, are designed to accommodate the sleek salad-munching fashion models of Paris, not rugby players fromSouth Africa. Designed to be body-hugging they tend to squeeze rather than fit snugly.

Bearing in mind that a fair percentage of GT-Line buyers are more likely to be impressed by the allure of couture, Balenciaga perfume and Ballon Bleu de Cartier watches than horse-power, the heavy, wide-opening doors of this coupe are unlikely to go down well, particularly when the Cape South-Easter is blowing full strength.

But then, in fairness, most coupés suffer the same handicaps and the GT-Line’s refreshingly stylish looks, outstanding specifications, R259 900 price tag and peace-of-mind five-year/150 000km warranty and five-year/100 000km service plan will be as pleasant to the ears of trendies as the pop of a Moet & Chandon champagne cork.

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