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.