Surprisingly likeable, in some respects. Straight from the outset its clear that the GT variant is firmer than the standard car.
This predictably results in a more planted feel, with minimal body roll in corners. The downside is that it's somewhat uncomfortable as well - the Renault will tend to remain unsettled, even on relatively smooth roads, and bumps and divits are frequently transmitted straight into the cabin. Those using it for a long commute will probably tire quickly of its restlessness.
The steering is, on the plus side, quite direct. There's not a great deal of feedback but it's adequately weighted and there's plenty of grip on offer. Coupled with its sporting suspension, and when being hustled across country at pace, the Renault proves quite capable and somewhat rewarding to drive. There has evidently been considerable effort put into ensuring that it can deal with corners in an adept fashion.
Both accelerator and clutch responses are well judged, but the braking response requires work. The initial braking effort is very soft, for a considerable portion of the travel, then the pedal stiffens suddenly. Bleeding off speed quickly requires a significant amount of concerted effort, and some could find themselves caught out.
The six-speed manual transmission offers up a good range of ratios but vertical travel through the gates is long, and the shift action annoying audible. There's a somewhat plasticky 'thunk' between changes and, once you've noticed, it quickly becomes a bugbear.
Power comes from a well-proven 1.6-litre 16-valve turbocharged diesel engine. It produces 129bhp and 236lb ft, which is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission.
The engine, which sees service in many other Renaults, grants the Mégane adequate performance. The 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in a reasonable 9.8sec; given enough room the Renault will go on to hit 124mph.
It's flexible enough to not become an annoyance, and its power is delivered in a predictable fashion. Refinement is acceptable, with only a slight diesel note emanating through the bulkhead when cruising. During acceleration it can become raucous, but chasing its 5000rpm-odd redline will no doubt be a relatively rare occurrence.
Combined, Renault suggests that the Mégane dCi 130 could average 70.6mpg. During testing it easily returned an indicated average of 54mpg. Emissions of 104g/km of CO2 are admirable too, resulting in annual road tax of £20.
Inside, things are much the same bar the addition of the R-Link media system. Front occupants are offered plenty of room and a decent range of seating adjustments, while the steering column adjusts for both reach and rake.
The vast majority of the controls are sensibly located and intuitive, and everything functions as you'd expect. The cabin feels solidly built too; there are no creaks or rattles, and the materials used feel of an acceptable standard. There's a notable amount of road noise from the tail of the car, however, and rear quarter visibility is poor.
Rear-seat occupants don't have quite as good a deal as those in the front. The seats are comfortable enough, but there are three adjustable headrests, none of which have much vertical adjustment. This means, if you're about six foot tall, you'll have a rest jammed in the back of your neck. There's no central armrest either.
Legroom is acceptable in the back but there's little headroom, and the small windows serve further to make the rear of the car feel cramped and small. Children should be fine, but adults will most likely only want to entertain short trips.
Many will no doubt be irritated by a selection of ergonomic issues. For example, the Renault's instrument cluster is canted away from the driver, forever making you feel like your seating position is wrong. The glovebox is also infuriatingly small, while the cupholder is partially obstructed by the centre console. At least decently sized door bins give you somewhere to stow bottles and larger items.
Predictably, for a coupé, the doors are long - but they're also heavy, and the interior handle is near the front hinge. This can make the doors both difficult to open and hard to control. In tight car parks, or on a slope, this could prove troublesome.
Beneficially, the Renault does have a decently sized boot, but it features a tall lip and a narrow opening. As a result, some may find it difficult to load - especially if the item is bulky or heavy.
Renault's GT Line additions do serve to improve the looks of the standard Mégane, but it does seem a little under-wheeled on 17-inch alloys. Larger items would probably serve to make it look considerably more interesting and should not impede the ride if the car is properly set up.