Renault Megane Features 2017-2018
Although it’s been on sale in the UK for over 20 years, the Renault Megane has never enjoyed the popularity of its major rivals. Previous versions had plenty of style, and Gallic charm, but they were often overlooked in favour of the more mainstream family hatchbacks.
To make matters worse, the last version felt distinctly outclassed towards the end of its life. With this all-new fourth-generation model, though, Renault promises greater all-round sophistication and more joie de vivre. It’s been developed from the ground up to renew its battle with big players like the Ford Focus, Seat Leon and VW Golf. There’s a handsome and muscular exterior, and a smart new high-tech interior that contains all the modern safety kit and all the executive toys you’d expect to see only on much pricier cars.
It also comes with a range of petrol and diesel engines that include a 1.5-litre diesel with low CO2 emissions to suit company car buyers, and a 202bhp 1.6-litre petrol for those searching for more zip.
Read on over the next few pages and we’ll tell you what it's like to drive, how it stacks up against those rivals and we'll also choose our favourite engines and trims.
The new Megane is available with two petrol engines and two diesel engines. The entry-level 1.2-litre petrol is fine for town driving and shorter journeys but you need to work it quite hard for motorway trips, which makes it rather a noisy engine because you need to keep the revs up to make decent progress. The diesel engines suit it better for more robust use; although the 1.2 is the cheapest engine so could be a good choice for private buyers, but it’s not as efficient as some of its rivals.
The 1.5-litre diesel engine has similar power to its rivals, but it feels slower in real-world driving compared to a Leon 1.6 TDI 110 or Astra 1.6 CDTi because the Megane weighs more. It still pulls solidly from 1500rpm, and gets you steadily to a 70mph motorway cruise. It sounds quiet, even when worked hard, but you do feel the engine’s vibrations buzzing through the pedals.
The 1.6-litre diesel is a good fit for the Megane, offering flexible performance (without being quick) and relative refinement, plus it’s a smooth runner on motorway journeys. It isn’t the most refined diesel engine in this class, and you will still get a harsh engine note if you push it hard, but it has decent claimed fuel economy of 70.6mpg and low CO2 emissions of 104g/km for only a small premium over the 1.5-litre diesel.
The range-topping 1.6-litre petrol goes in the GT Nav 205 trim only and comes with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. It’s a warm-hatch model designed to compete with cars such as the Ford Focus ST and Peugeot 308 GTI. However, on the road it feels a little flat, and is quite thrashy when revved hard. That auto ‘box changes slickly, but is occasionally hesitant when changing gear manually with the steering wheel paddles.
Road and wind noise are well suppressed compared with rivals, though you can still hear a flutter of wind noise from the door mirrors at motorway speed. The six-speed manual gearbox, where fitted, isn’t very precise, and the brakes, while effective, have a long and vague pedal action.
All models, other than the GT Nav 205, which has more grip and better body control, have a fairly soft suspension set-up. Consequently the Megane gets a little floaty on fast, undulating roads, but will waft over sleeping policemen or smaller potholes. On patchy town roads the ride can get a bit jiggly.
The Megane’s softness allows more body roll through corners than rivals such as the Leon and Focus, and it’s not a car that feels at home being hustled. You can alter the steering’s weight with three different modes.
The driver’s seat feels quite low to the floor and the pedals are nearer to you than is ideal – if you are tall it means you have more bend in your knees. That said, the steering has decent rake and reach adjustment, and the driver gets lumbar and seat-height adjustment as standard.
Visibility is fine looking forwards, thanks to relatively narrow windscreen pillars, but look over your shoulder when reversing and the thick rear pillars cut out much of what you can see. However, all versions bar the entry trim get rear parking sensors as standard, and from mid-spec Dynamique S Nav trim you also get a rear-view camera - plus the bonus of front parking sensors - as well.
It’s nicely finished inside, with the upper dashboard material soft to the touch and smart to look at. You also get funky ambient lighting that looks swish at night and configurable digital instruments on all but the most basic trim.
Read More Full Review https://www.whatcar.com/renault/megane/hatchback/review/in-the-cabin/