Since I first caught glimpse of its curvy behind at the Megane’s world debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2015, I’ve been itching to drive the new Renault Megane.
The new Megane is possibly the best yet. We may eat with our eyes, but for most of us, we buy cars with them too, and the Renault Megane has traffic stopping angles and curves. The new Megane’s distinctive front and rear lighting signatures are permanently lit when the engine is switched on, so there’s always that bit of drama about the Megane.
Together, it’s not a bad look at all for what underneath is a pretty conventional, mass market five door hatchback with a sub €20,000 entry price.
The design team has also done a good job inside the new Megane, and it feels just as fresh and modern as the outside. A colour digital speedometer is the focal point for the driver and a very neat touchscreen system sits in the centre console for controlling infotainment and viewing vehicle information and settings. The quality of the plastics and materials is generally good around the cabin, and sporty GT Line cars have some lovely blue stitching and blue trim on the doors and dash.
The cabin space is adequate for this class. Get into the rear and legroom does not seem as generous as in some rivals and the middle seat passenger will feel short changed on space. It looks like cabin space has been lost to the boot because it’s a Golf, Astra and Focus beater at 434 litres, but a high load lip makes loading and unloading of heavier items a bit more difficult.
Power comes from the well-proven 1.5-litre (110hp) and 1.6-litre (130hp) dCi diesel engines. A 1.2-litre (130hp) TCe turbocharged petrol unit is available on the entry level Expression trim. A sporty ‘Mégane GT’ houses a 1.6-litre TCe (205hp) turbo petrol engine developed by Renaultsport, with 4Control four-wheel steering for extra agility, a class first.
The 1.5-litre dCi 110 diesel is the most efficient of the range with emissions of just 96g CO2 and fuel consumption as low as 3.7l/km (76.4mpg). It doesn’t have the outright flexibility of a more powerful engine, so overtaking manoeuvres will require dropping gears to get an adequate shove of torque, but it triumphs for its frugality and refinement. Even when under pressure, this is one diesel that never makes a racket.
Under the skin, the new Megane has been engineered to be more dynamic on the road. It’s got a little grippy front end and the steering is tactile and direct so you can place the car confidently on the road. It’s not the most fun to drive of its class, but when pushed the Megane doesn’t put a foot wrong. Whether cruising on the motorway or driving in and around town, it’s a quiet, civilised and comfortable car.
The GT Line has a new toy called ‘Multisense’ technology, and it acts like a driving mode selector. Settings include comfort, neutral, sport and eco, with different steering and throttle response profiles for each. I was most interested in ‘Sport’ mode but I found the difference was negligible and it didn’t really enhance the driving experience that much.
There are five trim lines for the new Renault Megane on the Irish market: Expression (from €19,490), Dynamique Nav (from €23,990), Dynamique S Nav (from €25,290), GT Line Nav (from €25,990) and GT (from €30,690). Petrol models are available from €19,490, while diesels are available from €21,490, and even the high spec GT Line on test with the 1.5 dCi diesel looks like good value, coming in at €25,990.
Standard equipment on Expression trim includes hill start assist, cruise control, electric front windows, air con and Bluetooth. Stepping up to Dynamique Nav looks worthwhile for 16” alloys, electronic parking brake, auto lights and wipers, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, automatic high/low beam, front fog lights, rear parking sensors, electric, folding door mirrors, electric rear windows, digital speedometer, keycard entry and go, dual zone climate control, Multisense system (ambient lighting and driving modes selector), leather steering wheel, and R-Link 2 multimedia system with 7” touchscreen.
So the wait is over and that’s the new Megane driven. It’s fairly obvious that the new Megane is another design triumph for Renault and brings adventurous design to the C segment, making rivals by comparison look quite conservative in their styling. While the cabin is much improved and the design looks fresh and modern, it’s probably the weakest link here when compared to the likes of the new Astra and evergreen Golf because it lacks their refined and premium character, and rear seating space is not as generous as the best in class.
But the Megane pulls a trump card with one of the most refined and frugal diesel engines in the segment, and combined with the Megane’s naturally good driving character, this car is a pleasure for day to day driving.
Model Tested: Renault Megane GT Line Nav dCi 110
Price: €25,990 (Range starts €19,490)
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
0-100km/h: 11.3 seconds
CO2 Emissions: 96g/km
Motor Tax: €180 per year