Megane Coupe GT Line … finally, a hot hatch for all of the family

By Philip Hedderman

ALL is not as it seems – well not last week anyway.

A quick check of the diary and the words Renault Megane Coupe were pencilled in.

Ah, the Megane Coupe … it brought back very fond memories indeed.

I was at the launch of the new Megane in Milan almost three years ago. It was Hallow’een, the weather was balmy and the sexy new hatch got a equally warm reception by the Irish motoring press.

It was the first time ever for a manufacturer to offer the family hatchback and the slick coupe for pretty much the same price. The two models were worlds apart both in styling and, more importantly, the drive.

The coupe, with its sporty feel and chiseled look really impressed me – especially for a meagre 1.5 litre diesel.

What impressed even more was the well kept secret that the 1.5 diesel 110bhp powerplant was in fact, the same engine under the bonnet of the award-winning Nissan Qashqai.

The chrome coloured fang-like surrounds which dipped from under the grille to the spotlights on the bumper stood it head and shoulders above the rest.

And who could resist the Marilyn Monroe-like rear end one her?

Now, I don’t mean to brag, but I was right on the money.

The Megane is the single most popular car in Ireland today (thanks to very generous scrappage and a relentless ad campaign) and I was looking forward to a pleasent week together.

As the glistening Glacier White hot hatch rolled up, I knew instinctively something was different.

After all, like a proud father I was there when she took her first few breaths of life, the first to take her for a spin both city and country.

So what was wrong?

It looked a little more toned, moody …. and giving loads of attitude.

Could it be the deeper more flared front and rear bumpers finished with piano black inlay?

Could it be the bigger 17 inch Celsium aluminium alloys?

Maybe it was the sporty half leather bucket seats with RS logo embossed in the headrests?

Or was it the drilled aluminium pedals, the sunken dials with sporty white backgrounds or the polished carbon trim flowing seamlessly around the cabin?

Perhaps it was the distinctively black electric folding wing mirrors or was it the very subtle badging nestled beneath the diamond under the grille an on the bootlid?

One could be forgiven for thinking that this cheeky little imp had managed to escape from the Renault Sport compound and somehow made its way onto my driveway.

Boys and girls I give you the GT Line – a model that has all the characteristics of a racing thoroughbred – bar the hefty price.

Wow. How does that work then?

Simple, take all the bits that give the feel of a road legal rally car and give it a bog standard engine – even a diesel one.

The result is simply stunning. A fab looking hot hatch that’s as easy on the pocket as a 50cc moped.

Because it’s powered by a 110 bhp, 1.5 litre diesel, it has plenty of poke while returning nearly 60mpg and it costs only €104 a year to tax.

It’s also loaded with safety features like ESC (Electronic Stabilty Control with traction and understeer control) cruise control with speed limiter and a host of airbags including lateral and curtain bags.

This car is what every parent out there is dreaming of.

A sheep in wolves clothing – what every twentysomething should be driving.

I know if I had a couple of learner driver teens at home it would be a happy outcome for all concerned.

The Megane Coupe, under scrappage is still only €14,800 …. if you rush.

The GT Line I’m told is the same spec as the Irish Edition which comes in at €18,900 (for 90bhp model under scrappage) and after July will go back up to €24,500.

Some petrol heads will dismiss this as a stunt, but then again, that what Renault Sport is there for.

I personally couldn’t fault  it …. how could you for that money?