What is it?
It’s the new, fourth-generation version of the Renault Mégane, which is pitched directly at the likes of the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus. Whichever way you cut it, in the bustling C-segment hatchback market, the new Mégane is going to face seriously stiff competition.
For it to succeed, it needs to represent a significant step up compared to its predecessor. After all, the third-gen Mégane has been around since 2008. Despite a few facelifts and upgrades, even the likes of the flagship Renaultsport versions, despite being superb to drive, were tainted by dated trim and kit.
This new fourth-gen version is no gentle overhaul badged as an all-new car. Underneath it sports the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s modern CMF platform, as found in the recently launched Kadjar. Allied to this are MacPherson struts up front, a torsion beam set-up at the back, disc brakes all round and electrically assisted power steering.
Power for the new front-drive hatch comes from a range of efficient turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, some of which are offered with dual-clutch automatic transmissions. On the cosmetic front, the exterior styling reflects that of Renault’s more recent offerings, while inside you’ll find a contemporary interior that’s reputedly made from finer materials.
The equipment list has also been overhauled, now featuring upmarket options including an 8.7in infotainment system. Exact pricing and specifications are yet to be confirmed, however, as we’re driving the car some six months before it’s due in the UK market.
Our first taste of the new range was in this flagship Mégane GT. It’s Renaultsport’s first interpretation of the new car and packs a host of upgrades that extend far beyond the cosmetic. Up front, for example, you’ll find a derivative of the powertrain found in the Clio Renaultsport 200.
That means you get a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol, producing 202bhp and 207lb ft, which drives the front wheels via a seven-speed EDC dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Renault claims a 0-62mph time of 7.1sec and a top speed of 145mph.
The GT benefits further from Renault’s ‘4Control’ active four-wheel steering system, launch control and a new ‘multi-change-down’ feature for the transmission. When braking, it allows you to skip multiple ratios in one hit, rather than having to work sequentially through them. The GT also features Renaultsport-tuned suspension, a faster-acting electrically assisted steering rack, bigger front discs and twin exhausts.