GAUTENG – Renault’s Megane has, in name at least, been with us since 1995. It’s always been the brand’s halo model and the trend is about to continue with the latest incarnation for 2014 – albeit with two all-new siblings this time around – a trilogy available in five-door hatch or three-door coupe – all incidentally, sporting identical pricing.French automakers tend to do things differently, don’t they? Case in point - the rather charming but radical bustle-back Megane of about ten years ago. The trendsetting is about to continue for Renault, methinks.FRENCH FLAIR FOR DESIGNIn an age where cars tend to look mostly the same it’s pleasing to see the latest Megane three-door coupe (the only version on show at launch) will become instantly recognisable for its assertive design and futuristic styling – and that’s meant as a compliment.From the outside there’s lots of energetic and upmarket character via its stand-out front bumper which includes daytime running lights, while the rear bumper boasts an integrated diffuser and smart 17” dark grey alloys (GT-Line). IMAGE GALLERY: 2014 Renault MeganeRefinement and coherence are the keywords here with the side mirrors and exterior door handles also highlighted in a dark grey finish.Get inside the cabin and the superb refinement levels are immediately obvious with a combination of cloth/fabric (or leather on the flagship model). Intuitive and convenient on-board experience continues thanks to the integrated navigation with Live Connectivity (LC) and the Renault key-card with hands-free locking/unlocking functionality.Additional features include power windows (front and rear) and power side mirrors, dual climate control, cruise control with speed limiter, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth connectivity, Radio CD MP3 with a USB port plus fingertip controls located behind the steering wheel.LIVE CONNECTIVITYConstantly connected via satellite, the LC system picks up traffic updates with route optimisation of any traffic congestion (accidents and road works for example) and proactively proposes a modified route enabling the driver to avoid slow-downs and get to his/her destination as quickly as possible.Looking for POI (places of interest) that particular restaurant, bakery or pharmacy? Once again, thanks to the LC the driver simply types in a key word and this intuitive search engine will find all matching locations in the surrounding area or at a specific destination.Thanks to the above system’s ability to deliver daily and up to five-day weather forecasts, you’ll always know what to expect weather-wise and be able to adapt or plan your travels accordingly.While spacious enough up front in the two models driven at launch, I felt leg space for the rear passengers to be rather compromised – but this may well be addressed in the sedan versions, alas not verified though. ‘PLEASURABLE DRIVING EXPERIENCE’The top of the range model is the GT Turbo (162kW/340Nm) priced at R329 900, GT-Line Turbo (97kW/205Nm) with a ticket price of R279 900, and the base level offering at R249 900 (81kW/205Nm) – while all share the same DNA (and great looks), individually they address customer’s expectations in a very different way.Renault South Africa’s vice-president of marketing and communications, Fabien Payzan, told Wheels24: “The New Megane GT-Line Turbo 97kW is undoubtedly a car of the next generation. An impressive technological package, it delivers the most pleasurable driving experience together with excellent fuel efficiency while at the same time, respecting the environment.”This may come as a surprise but that particular 97kW turbocharged motor offering max torque of 205Nm (available between 2000-3000rpm) is of only 1.2-litre capacity, improved even more thanks to its overboost function (peak torque at 225Nm), definitely outperforming the 1.4 –litre turbo it replaces by some margin.GIVING RIVALS PAUSE FOR CONCERNIndeed, I’d go as far as to say it performs better than any 1.6-litre motor in the marketplace today – it’ll probably give some 2.0-litre jobbies a run for their money, nogaal!Renault claims the GT-Line to be exceptional in the fuel-efficient stakes with consumption figures of 5.4-litres/100km, it generates 124g CO./km. This represents an improvement of 14% compared to the previous 1.4 Turbo engine (6.3-litres/100km, 145g CO./km).Even though the new Turbo 97kW engine comes packed with cutting-edge technologies, Renault engineers have kept in mind the importance of lowering maintenance costs. One of the key elements underscoring this is the replacement of the expensive cambelt of outgoing models with a timing chain setup that apparently requires no maintenance during the lifetime of the car.Further spirited performance can be had from the halo Megane aka the GT Turbo. Boasting the same good looks of its siblings, and then some. Factor in 18" alloy wheels, GT signature on the bootlid plus an even more sporty interior.The strengthened chassis for this model is derived from the Renault performance stable, boasting bigger brakes and high-performance tyres delivering maximum power of 162kW between 4750 and 6500 rpm. An extremely responsive engine, maximum torque of 340Nm is available between 2400 and 3500rpm and, with 0-100km/h achievable in just 7.6 seconds, the GT Turbo has a top speed of 240km/h. Thanks to its stop/start functionality and in relation to its performance level, it is extremely fuel efficient as reflected by its consumption of 7.3-litres/100km in the combined cycle NEDC (163g/km).PRICES: Identical prices for both body styles (hatch and coupe).Renault Megane MY2014 Dynamique 81kW - R249 900Renault Megane MY2014 GT-Line Turbo 97kW - R279 900Renault Megane MY2014 GT Turbo 162kW - R329 900Optional extras:17" alloys (Dynamique) - R3000 Sunroof (Coupe fixed) - R8000 Sunroof (Hatch electric) - R10 000 Leather pack - R12 000 Rear Camera (GT Coupe) - R5000Metallic Paint - R2500The new Megane is sold with a five-year or 150 000km Warranty complemented and five-year or 90 000km service plan.