Maverick Life, Motoring

Renault Mégane GT-Line: When smaller means better

Renault Mégane GT-Line: When smaller means better

The was a time when the bigger a car’s engine, the more powerful it was – and the more power, the better. Those big Chevs and Fords, with their acres of chrome and thirsty V8s, were on every petrolhead’s wish list. These days, compact is cool, and engines are getting smaller. The Renault Mégane GT-Line is a case in point. By DEON SCHOEMAN.

One of the current buzzwords in the modern motoring world is ‘downsizing’. Car buyers are opting for smaller but more sophisticated models, because they’re more wieldy in traffic, and more economical to run, while intelligent packaging means they’re still spacious and comfortable inside.

The demand for smaller, smarter cars is reflected in the growing number of high-tech, full-house compact models. Gone are the days when small meant entry-level simple: even a baseline VW Golf is pretty decently kitted out, with engineering sophistication to match.


Who would have thought, only a decade ago, that the leisure vehicle market would be dominated by compact SUVs such as Kia’s Sportage, instead of big-bruiser 4x4s, and that small form-factor crossovers like the Nissan Juke and the Peugeot 2008 would attain the popularity they have?


However, it’s not just the vehicles that are being downsized – the engines powering them are shrinking, too – except that technology now allows the previously impossible: less capacity linked to more muscle. The latest Renault Mégane GT-Line is a good case in point.

The Mégane is Renault’s C-segment warrior, which means it’s up against the VW Golf, Ford’s Focus, the Opel Astra, Peugeot’s 308 and the Hyundai i30, amongst others. It’s been mildly successful, partly due to the halo effect of the hard-core, 195 kW RS version, but has never been a significant volume seller, despite sleek looks and plenty of standard kit.


However, there’s every chance that the updated Mégane GT-Line, and its more powerful GT sibling, will enjoy greater success. And the reason is to be found under the bonnet.

Before we get to the oily bits, it’s worth taking a look at the design of the latest Mégane GT-Line. It’s be no means a new car, and so the silhouette remains familiar, but the front end is brand new, with a more powerful grille treatment, bolder headlights, and daytime running lights.

The GT-Line can be ordered in pragmatic five-door form, or as shown here, as a sporty but less practical three-door. Pricing is identical. Both versions get lots of metallic grey detailing around front air intakes, with the exterior mirrors and door handles finished in the same hue. There’s a subtle rear roof spoiler, while the GT-Line runs on 17-inch alloys and grippy rubber.


The three-door is easily the more handsome design, but despite those big doors, and front seats that slide all the way forward, access to the rear bench seat remains inconvenient, and the reduced side glass area makes that rear accommodation feel more claustrophobic than it actually is.

That aside, the interior of the GT-Line is a one of the hatchback’s highlight. This is by no means a flagship hatchback, and yet it has all the bells and whistles.

The seats are comfy and supportive, with exaggerated bolsters and attractive upholstery. If anything, they may be a little too bulky. The finishes are smart and functional, with metallic and faux carbon fibre accents, and the equipment levels are comprehensive.


From dual-zone climate control, live-updated satnav (driven by TomTom) and a touchscreen with rotary controller (a la BMW iDrive) to Bluetooth connectivity, a multifunction steering wheel and a clever keyless access system, the Mégane GT-Line has more standard kit than many luxury machines.

The boot is reasonable, if not class-leading, but you can always fold the split rear seat flat to boost cargo space when required.

However, as already mentioned, the really big news in this updated Mégane is the really small engine, at least in C-segment hatchback terms. It’s a 1.2-litre four-cylinder, with a low-inertia turbocharger to boost power and torque to 97kW and 205Nm respectively.


An overboost function will add a further 20Nm under hard acceleration. At the same time, claimed fuel economy is equally impressive at just 5.4 litres/100km for the combined cycle.

The Mégane is thirstier in real-world conditions, mainly because the car needs to be driven with a measure of enthusiasm, but we still managed around 7 litres/100km, despite giving it stick. Open-road cruising will achieve thriftier results, though.

In dynamic terms, the Mégane GT-Line is swift rather than downright fast and punchy. You need to gear down once or even twice to get the most from the engine, but in many ways, that only adds to the appeal of the driving experience.


Yes, that little mill under the bonnet is turbocharged, but with its limited capacity, the usual turbo traits of fat midrange shove and in-gear tractability are absent – you need to rev the engine, and keep it in the powerband.

At just under 10 seconds, the zero-to-100km/h time is adequate, while the 200km/h top speed is of little more than academic interest on our roads. But the driving experience is always engaging, and just sporty enough to entertain.

The Mégane’s road manners prioritise comfort and compliance, which isn’t a bad thing given its mainstream application and appeal. It rides over bumps and through dips with composed confidence, and nips through corners with glee, with plenty of grip and just enough neutrality to combat the usual nose-wide understeer.

The electric power steering doesn’t do the GT-Line too many favours, though, offering too much assistance and lacking feedback. It does gain some heft when pressing on, but the chassis deserves a better calibrated steering system.

At a smidgen under R280,000, the Mégane GT-Line finds itself right in the thick of the mainstream hatchback battle. It’s closest rival is VW’s Golf 1.4 TSI Comfortline, but the Renault is a convincing and competent rival, with French style and individuality on its side.

It also happens to be comprehensively kitted out, and dynamically engaging. All of which suggests that we should expect to see many more Renault Mégane GT-Lines on our roads. DM


Renault Mégane GT-Line 5-Door


In-line four-cylinder, 1,198cc, turbocharged


97kW @ 5,500 rpm


205Nm @ 2,000 rpm


Six-speed manual

0-100 km/h


Top speed


Fuel consumption

5.4 litres/100km (combined cycle)

CO2 emissions


Retail price



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