One of Renault’s most important models is now available for sale in the South African market. The Renault Mégane hatch was launched on a rainy Gauteng weekday and rain in African culture is good luck. Renault will be counting on that as it takes the next stab at the mid-hatch segment currently dominated by Volkswagen, Mazda and Toyota.
Mégane III ditches the kinky drop-chop rear end which I really liked in favour of a more conventional rounded behind. I suppose since we are in Africa that is also acceptable. It’s sensual and stylish, easily the sexiest car in its segment.
"The debut of New Mégane represents a bold and important step-change in Renault South Africa's new model renaissance on the local market," explains Renault South Africa Managing Director, Xavier Gobille. "It establishes new benchmarks across all spheres, encompassing eye-catching styling matched to leading-edge ergonomics, technology, performance and handling, as well as active and passive safety and environmental efficiency. All of these elements make it the most convincing Renault model yet to take on the crucial C-segment in SA.”
Improvements over the outgoing car include an upgraded chassis and new more direct steering action which I experienced during a run that lasted about 100km. Comfortable and sporty the Mégane III has grown up sowewhat. So grown up that it even let go of the aero-inspired handbrake which I really adored. A sad shame. Nothing wrong with the new one though, conventional and it works just as well.
Packed with the latest and greatest interior features like Bluetooth connectivity, the Carminat TomTom navigation system and the optional custom 3D Sound by Arkamys audio system, the Mégane is a place to enjoy your driving as well as to entertain yourself at the same time. Others on the menu include automatic dual-zone climate control, an MP3-compatible sound system, cruise control, and rain and light sensors.
The range will consist of four engine choices. At launch only two are available, which are the 1.9 dCi turbo diesel and the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated petrol. Starting with the petrol we see that it produces 83kW of power at a high 6000rpm and its maximum torque of 151Nm comes in at 4250rpm. Like the rest of the range it’s mated to a 6-speed manual gearbox to help it achieve claimed fuel consumption of 6.9 litres per 100km and C02 emissions of 163g/km.
While it’s disappointing that Renault has not moved up to 2.0-litres on the diesel side (to match rivals) the mill does make good power and torque. It has 96kW developed at 3750rpm and 300Nm of torque from 1750rpm. Smooth it is but performance-competitive it’s probably not. Average fuel consumption is an exceptional 5.1 litres per 100km while C02 emissions average 134g/km.
Come January 2009 and we’ll have the new 1.4 TCe in the line-up as well. Power for that is 96kW and torque is 190Nm; 2.0-litre performance from a 1.4 engine. I hope South Africans wake up to the downsizing of engines (but without the expected loss of power) and realise that this is the future.
Having said four engines and only mentioning three, you’re probably wondering which the fourth one is. Renault fans will immediately know about the RenaultSport range which is topped by the RenaultSport Mégane and powered by a GTI-whipping 184kW 2.0-litre engine. Mzansi will also get this car in 2010.
Safety is taken care of by things like the six airbags and side impact sensors. By the way, the car has been awarded 37 out of a possible 37 points during the EuroNCAP safety tests. That means it got 100% score which is a testament to its safety credentials.
Renault South Africa will sell the new Mégane with a 3-year/100 000km warranty and a 5-year/100 000km service plan.
Renault Mégane III Pricing
1.6 16v Dynamique (R215 000)
1.9dCi Dynamique (R257 000)
1.4 TCe (R245 000 - available January 2010)