Renault Megane 1.2 GT-Line

The Renault Megane has been updated for 2012, and we've driven it...

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The 1.2-litre Renault Megane combines attractive design and a quality cabin with class-leading efficiency. While you won’t win any traffic-light drag races, the engine is refined and flexible enough to enjoy without  hurting your fuel economy. The Megane isn’t the most spacious five-door hatch, especially in the back, and the ride can be fussy, but overall it’s a stylish family hatchback that drives well.

The Renault Megane range has been updated with styling, equipment and pricing tweaks, plus three new efficient engines.

The smallest is a 1.2-litre 113bhp turbocharged four-cylinder petrol called the TCe 115. It features a stop-start system and a number of engine improvements, such as direct fuel injection – all of which helps it to return 53.3mpg and emit 119g/km of CO2. They’re better than the equivalent figures for the less powerful 1.2-litre turbo VW Golf.

This engine replaces the 108bhp 1.6-litre and produces five more horsepower and 39Nm more torque than its predecessor, for a total of 190Nm. It also delivers its peak torque lower down in the rev range, making it more flexible for everyday urban driving. Plus, the 1.2-litre improves emissions and fuel economy by 25 per cent over the 1.6-litre.

The older engine will still be sold for the foreseeable future in entry-level Expression+ trim, however, as the more efficient 1.2-litre comes at a premium. It’s available in hatchback, Coupe and Sport Tourer body styles, but is exclusive to the higher-spec Dynamique and GT-Line models. It’s priced from £18,325 in Dynamique spec, which is £1,050 more than with the 1.6-litre, and it’s the only petrol engine available in the GT-Line, priced from £19,825.

On the road, the 1.2-litre with a six-speed manual box is impressive. It offers good refinement, and the additional torque means it rarely struggles to make progress. The trade-off is that there’s no sporty exhaust note, yet the Megane’s well sorted chassis can still bring a smile to your face on a winding road.

GT-Line has stiffer suspension than lower-spec models, so its handling is even more accomplished, although the steering could do with more feel. Even this version’s 17-inch alloys don’t spoil the comfortable ride, although you can feel slight surface changes on the motorway, making it a bit taxing on long-distance runs.

Outside, the GT-Line Megane has LED daytime running lights low down in the front bumper, as well as body-coloured side mouldings and door handles. There are two new exterior and six new interior trim colours. GT-Line is also equipped with hill-start assist and parking assist with rear-view camera, while all Meganes now get Bluetooth phone connectivity, gloss-black bumper highlights and new alloy wheel designs as standard.

Renault expects the 1.2-litre engine to be the most popular choice with private buyers, making up around 30 per cent of total Megane sales. The new range goes on sale on 1April, with the 1.2-litre priced from £18,325 (Dynamique hatchback), £18,825 (Dynamique Coupe) and £19,125 (Dynamique Tom Tom Sport Tourer).

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