The Renault Arkana on test for Changing Lanes

Renault Arkana Review (2024) | Stylish and practical

Read Caroline's Renault Arkana review for everything you need to know about buying Renault's stylish SUV coupé in Ireland.

The Renault Arkana first launched in Ireland in 2021 and quickly became one of the brand's bestsellers, outselling the Clio and the Captur.

Along with the Megane E-Tech and the newly launched Austral, it gives Renault a strong presence in the compact side of the market.

The Arkana has recently been updated for 2024 so it was time for another spin.

The Renault Arkana on test for Changing Lanes
The Renault Arkana on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the Renault Arkana?

Styled as an SUV coupé, the Arkana is a stylish, five-seat family car with trendy crossover-inspired looks. It sits a bit higher off the ground than your average hatchback and features familiar Renault design cues like striking LED lights front and rear.

At the rear, the roof slopes down in an attractive coupé style - with little compromise to practicality as the Arkana houses a generous boot and plenty of passenger space. Alloy wheel sizes vary from 17- to 19-inch depending on trim level.

For the update, Renault has made a few subtle tweaks. Evolution and Techno trim lines are joined by the new Esprit Alpine, which replaces the previous R.S. Line and gets some sportier trim like 19-inch alloys and gloss black wing mirror caps.

The grille has a new diamond pattern and wears the new Renault logo. There's also a new F1-style blade in the front bumper, finished in grey on the Esprit Alpine. The rear lights have smoked glass covers and tailpipes are finished in gloss black.

There's also a new colour called Midnight Blue.

The cabin of the Arkana
The cabin of the Arkana

The Arkana is available as a 1.3-litre mild hybrid petrol or as an even more fuel-efficient hybrid. It also still manages to offer good value in the market, starting from €32,590 for the petrol and from €35,490 for the hybrid.

Driving the Arkana E-Tech Hybrid

The Arkana E-Tech Hybrid uses a 1.6-litre full hybrid just like the Clio Hybrid. It combines a four-cylinder petrol engine with a small capacity battery, two electric motors and a 6-speed multimode automatic transmission.

With 145hp, it has plenty of power while boasting lower CO2 emissions and the ability to drive up to 80% of the time on battery power alone at low speeds in town, for example.

It also proves to be very fuel efficient with real world consumption between 5.5 and 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres during my time with the car. It's not a plug-in hybrid, so doesn't need to be plugged in to get the best efficiency from it.

It's a capable drive without being as sporty as what the coupé looks might suggest. The steering is accurate and direct but the hybrid can get noisy under hard acceleration.

The ride is a little firm so in town and on country roads it feels a little bumpy at times. There's quite a lot of road noise at high speeds on the motorway too.

The Renault Arkana is available as a petrol mild hybrid or full hybrid
The Renault Arkana is available as a petrol mild hybrid or full hybrid

But on balance, it's a nice car to spend time with. It offers a good view out of the road ahead and is simple and efficient to drive.

The 1.3-litre petrol is available with 140hp or 160hp depending on trim level and also comes with an automatic transmission.

There's no diesel option in the Arkana range.

Inside the Arkana

The Arkana still scores well for practicality. The hatchback-style boot has a wide opening and capacity of 480 litres. It doesn't feel cramped in the back despite the sloping roofline and provides adequate space for two, or even three from time to time.

The cabin design and finish hasn't changed much in this update but it's still a nice place to be with a good solid feel and plenty of cool digital tech on board.

The Esprit Alpine (from €37,790) offers the plushest cabin of the range with details such as suede-effect and synthetic leather seats with Alpine logo and blue stitching. The leather wrapped steering wheel gets stitching in the colours of the French Tricolour. There's also a bespoke grey panel in the dash.

The boot of the Arkana
The boot of the Arkana

It also has luxury features like heated steering wheel, heated front seats with power adjustment. Lovely!

The entry level Evolution model comes with a 7-inch touchscreen now with in-built navigation and wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

It's worth going for the mid-range Techno model as it adds an impressive full digital driver display and larger 9.3-inch touchscreen.

Did you like it?

The Renault Arkana is still a great offering in the market for style, practicality and efficiency. It's not quite as sporty to drive as it looks and could do with a bit more refinement overall but for the price it still manages to offer good value for buyers. The update is very, very subtle but what a great looking car!

Arkana is a car with a lot of charm and it's no surprise it's such a big seller for Renault in Ireland.

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The Renault Arkana is practical, stylish and efficient
The Renault Arkana is practical, stylish and efficient

The new Renault Clio - delightfully chic

Renault Clio Review (2024) | A brilliant small car

Read Caroline's Renault Clio review for everything you need to know about buying Renault's popular small car in Ireland.

The Renault Clio is an international bestseller and one of the French brand's best loved small cars. It's recently been updated to keep it competitive with a few small tweaks to the styling, addition of a new Esprit Alpine trim level and some enhanced equipment onboard.

Available as a simple petrol manual or as an even more fuel efficient hybrid, the 2024 Renault Clio range kicks off from €24,845.

The new Renault Clio - delightfully chic
The new Renault Clio - delightfully chic

What's so special about the Renault Clio?

There are few small cars as chic and stylish as the Renault Clio. The facelifted Clio gets a new front end that gives it a meaner and sportier look, particularly in the top of the range Esprit Alpine - inspired by Renault's Alpine brand of sports cars.

The grille now stretches the full width between the LED headlights, while the new F1-style blade in the front bumper is finished in grey on the Esprit Alpine. Another striking feature is the new half diamond shaped LED daytime running lights that give it some real dynamic appeal.

Alloy wheel sizes start at 16-inch, with the Esprit Alpine getting a fancier 17-inch diamond cut set with blue or grey centre caps, depending on the body colour.

There are new clear covers for the rear lights but otherwise it's business as usual for the Clio. It's still one of the best looking small cars on sale.

There are a few tweaks inside too. Nothing major but the Esprit Alpine replaces the old RS Line and has a few sporty additions.

The cabin of the 2024 Renault Clio
The cabin of the 2024 Renault Clio

Inside the Clio Esprit Alpine

The Clio's cabin has matured very well with impressive digital tech on board and an upmarket feel - particularly in the new Esprit Alpine (from €28,345).

Front sports seats come with blue contrast stitching and Alpine logos to add a sporty feel. There's a fabric dashboard panel with a French flag to remind you what you're driving and Tricolour stitching in the steering wheel too.

Entry level models come with a 7-inch digital driver display and 7-inch touchscreen that's easy to use, with now wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to make smartphone integration even simpler. The Esprit Alpine gets the flashier 10-inch digital driver display and 9.3-inch portrait-style touchscreen.

Standard features on the entry level Evolution model include keyless entry, automatic air con and rear parking sensors. The Techno adds a reversing camera and wireless smartphone charging, while the Esprit Alpine is the most luxurious of all with heated steering wheel/heated front seats and safety equipment like adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning and rear cross traffic alert.

The Clio Hybrid is brilliant in town and very fuel-efficient
The Clio Hybrid is brilliant in town and very fuel-efficient

The Clio feels roomy enough inside for a small car though the back seat will be more comfortable for two rather than three. The petrol models are best for boot space with a Golf-beating 391 litres. Opt for the hybrid and this goes down to 301 litres. But it's still a practical space for a few suitcases or shopping bags.

Driving the Clio Hybrid

The Clio is available with a 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 90hp and a 6-speed manual or as a 1.6-litre hybrid that promises even greater fuel efficiency.

The hybrid is more expensive to buy (from €30,545) but offers a few benefits particularly in town driving where it can run for up to 80% of the time on its small capacity battery alone powering just the electric motor to turn the wheels - just like a Toyota Yaris Hybrid. Nor does it require a plug, with the battery being topped up during braking and deceleration.

It's smooth to drive with a multimode automatic transmission making it simple too. It has more power (145hp) than the entry level petrol and contributes to a more mature feeling on the road. Slot it into the ‘B’ mode to increase regenerative braking and you can adjust the driving behaviour somewhat with the Multisense driving modes.

Rear seating in the Clio
Rear seating in the Clio

Over my time with the car, average fuel consumption was 4.9 litres per 100 kilometres, making it cheap to run too.

The Clio is good fun to drive with direct steering and good body control through bends. Comfort and refinement levels are pretty good for a small car though it does get noisy over coarser road surfaces and doesn't do much to take the edge off the bumps and holes of Irish rural roads.

Did you like it?

It's an easy yes! It's hard not to find yourself endeared by the Clio's charm. It's compact enough to be fun, yet big enough to offer some decent practicality. It's super stylish and well-equipped making it one of the most desirable small cars on sale.

It's hard to justify the hybrid's price tag over the basic petrol though it is a more sophisticated offering overall, cleaner and more efficient.

Either way, the Clio is still one for the shopping list.

The brilliant Renault Clio
The brilliant Renault Clio

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The new Renault Austral E-Tech Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes

Renault Austral E-Tech Hybrid Review

Read Caroline's Renault Austral E-Tech Hybrid review for everything you need to know about buying Renault's new compact SUV in Ireland.

The Austral is Renault's newest SUV. It replaces the Kadjar and slots into the range just above the Renault Arkana, with pricing starting from about €45,000, rising all the way to €52,000.

It's classed as a 'C-segment' SUV so goes up against familiar rivals like the Nissan Qashqai, Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sportage and Peugeot 3008.

The Austral goes on sale in Ireland exclusively as a hybrid - there's no pure petrol or diesel options in the range. But it's a powerful hybrid with 200hp that offers some excellent efficiency in real world driving.

The new Renault Austral E-Tech Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes
The new Renault Austral E-Tech Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes

What's so special about the Renault Austral?

We've had to wait a while for the Austral to arrive. Alongside the newly launched Megane E-Tech and the popular Arkana SUV coupé, the new Austral signals something of a renaissance at Renault.

With these three models, Renault hopes to gain more ground in the C-segment, Europe's most popular segment for new car buyers.

While the Megane E-Tech is electric only and the Arkana offers some petrol and hybrid options, the new Austral is a flagship of sorts, boasting Renault's newest hybrid technology.

There's also bold new styling that complements the Megane, including Renault's new logo and brand identity. The Austral also sees the introduction of new 'Esprit Alpine' models, with design inspiration from Renault's Alpine brand of sports cars.

19-inch alloys come as standard on the entry Techno model, while the Techno Esprit Alpine and Iconic Esprit Alpine both get 20-inch alloy wheel, as well as an exclusive matte grey paint option.

While the Austral is a much more expensive car to buy new than the Kadjar it replaces, it is absolutely loaded with equipment and technology so marks a step up for the brand among family SUVs. Does it have what it takes to take on the mighty Qashqai, Sportage and Tucson? It certainly looks the part.

The Austral is Renault's new hybrid SUV
The Austral is Renault's new hybrid SUV

Inside the Renault Austral

The Austral's interior is another highlight. The level of standard equipment is truly astounding. All versions come with a head-up display, full digital driver display and portrait-style touchscreen.

The digital tech is very stylish and glossy. Like the Renault Megane E-Tech, the touchscreen uses a Google operating system with useful integration of Google Maps, Google Assistant and much more. But Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can be used if you prefer.

Esprit Alpine models dial up the style with unique Alcantara and fabric seats with blue stitching and headrests embossed with the Alpine logo in blue. There is also more Alcantara fabric in the dashboard, with elegant ambient lighting. The new Renault steering wheel features French Tricolour stitching and more Alcantara.

Other standard features include heated steering wheel and heated front seats with massage function and power adjustment.

There's lots of legroom and headroom in the back for a compact family SUV, as well as amenities like an armrest, cupholders, air vents and USB-C ports.

The rear bench split folds 60:40 and can be moved forward to create more boot space. In their normal setting, the boot offers 430 litres. That's a bit off the best in class but with the rear bench moved forward, up to 555 litres is possible. A powered tailgate also comes as standard.

Iconic Esprit Alpine models also come with a full panoramic glass roof with blind, 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, 360-degree camera and wireless phone charging.

Inside the Renault Austral
Inside the Renault Austral

Driving the Austral E-Tech Hybrid

In Ireland, the Renault Austral will be available exclusively as a petrol electric hybrid that does not require charging to get the best efficiency from it.

It's got 200hp so it's competitive in power terms to other hybrid SUVs in this class like the Qashqai E-Power and the Tucson Hybrid. It differs to the Arkana E-Tech Hybrid with a 1.2-litre three petrol engine at its heart, two electric motors, a small capacity battery and an improved automatic gearbox.

The result is a hybrid that is even smoother and more refined. Most of the time, it switches between EV drive and hybrid drive with very little fuss. Occasionally you can hear the engine working, but it never thrashes around.

The power delivery is strong and responsive, with a number of different driving modes to enhance the drive including Comfort, Eco, Sport and Perso to fine tune things like the engine responsiveness, steering effort and the agility of the chassis.

It proves to be very efficient, averaging about 5.3 litres per 100 kilometres during my time with the car across a variety of road types - from motorway to town and rural roads.

Rear seating in the Austral
Rear seating in the Austral

Top of the range Iconic Esprit Alpine models come with four wheel steering as standard. This allows the rear wheels to turn a little, which boosts the agility and manoeuvrability of the Austral in low speed town driving and parking. Out on the open road, it creates more stability and makes the Austral nice and secure to drive quickly.

Versions with four wheel steering get a more sophisticated multi-link rear suspension, while those without use a torsion beam.

The only real downside is that the Austral rides quite firmly over less than perfect road surfaces and there is audible road noise.

Did you like it?

Renault is upping its game with its latest cars and SUVs to go on sale. There has been a notable step up in price but also quality, while the digital tech on board is truly impressive for a compact SUV.

On the road, the Austral offers a powerful and refined driving experience, while also delivering on efficiency. It's not completely perfect though on Irish roads and some rival SUVs offer more comfort over less than smooth tarmac.

But on a whole the Austral is a welcome return for Renault to the family SUV market with style and practicality in abundance. It can take on the best in class with a touch of class.

The Austral is a stylish, practical and efficient SUV
The Austral is a stylish, practical and efficient SUV

Model tested: Renault Austral E-Tech Hybrid Iconic Esprit Alpine
Price: 
€52,295
Engine:
1.2-litre petrol-electric hybrid
Power: 200hp
Torque: 410Nm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 8.4 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€180 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The Renault Megane E-Tech on test for Changing Lanes!

Renault Megane E-Tech Review

Read Caroline's Renault Megane E-Tech review for everything you need to know about buying Renault's new electric car in Ireland.

The Renault Megane is one of the perennials of the Renault range and now it's gone electric! That's right, there's no more diesel or petrol Meganes on sale. The future is now this - the all-electric Megane E-Tech.

Available with two different battery sizes and a range of up to 450 kilometres (WLTP), the new Megane E-Tech will take on other mid-size electric hatchbacks like the MG4, the Kia Niro EV, the Volkswagen ID.3 and the Cupra Born.

But going electric means there's been a step up in price too. The new Megane E-Tech range goes on sale from €37,495 including grants.

Renault has some form when it comes to building electric cars. The Renault Zoe was one of the pioneering electric cars when it launched back in 2012 and is one of the best compact EVs of its generation.

So can the Megane E-Tech charge to the top of the pack? Let's find out!

The Renault Megane E-Tech on test for Changing Lanes!
The Renault Megane E-Tech on test for Changing Lanes!

What's so special about the Renault Megane E-Tech?

The Megane E-Tech is a beautiful piece of design. The Megane was always a bit of a looker. Renault has continued that tradition with the new E-Tech. The new design language is called 'sensual tech' and this car has great presence.

The proportions are perfect with an extended wheelbase, the wheels pushed out to the corners and short overhangs. Big wheels: 18-inch as standard but all other versions like the Techno on test get stylish 20-inch that give it the look of a concept car. There's also a slick high window line and hidden rear door handles for added grace and elegance.

The other curiosity to the Megane is that Renault has given it some crossover design cues without turning it into anything other than a stylish hatchback. So it sits a small bit higher off the ground than most of the competition and the wheel arches and sills have a bit more definition.

LED headlamps come as standard with a dramatic LED daytime running light signature. At the back the full width light bar gives a final flourish and M E G A N E spelt out across the boot lid.

The cabin is also one of Renault's best yet, a huge step forward in design, technology and quality.

The cabin of the new Megane E-Tech
The cabin of the new Megane E-Tech

Inside the Megane E-Tech

The cabin of the new Megane has been inspired "by the world of fine home furniture", according to Renault. It's a world away from the previous version of the Megane. There's a modern, lounge feel. The seats on Techno models are made from recycled materials. There's also a nice textile used on the dashboard and Alcantara panels in the doors. Altogether, it's a classy and premium feeling cabin that feels like one of the best of the segment.

Being a new generation Renault interior, there's also lots of great tech as standard including a glossy full digital instrument panel and 9-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Go for the mid-range Techno model and the system uses an excellent Google operating system with in-built Google services like Google Maps and Google Assistant, as well as over-the-air updates.

The entry level Megane E-Tech Equilibre includes air conditioning, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, rear view camera and lots of safety and driver assistance systems.

The Megane also has one of the biggest boots in the class at 440 litres. That's bigger than an MG4, Leaf or ID.3. It's quite deep however so there is a high load lip to lift things over. I love the neat storage compartment for the charging cables beneath the boot floor.

Built on a dedicated electric platform, the Megane E-Tech does offer adequate legroom for adults - though headroom is not as generous.

The new Megane E-Tech is on sale from €37,495
The new Megane E-Tech is on sale from €37,495

Driving the electric Megane

The Megane E-Tech is available with the choice of two batteries. The EV40 is priced from €37,495 and uses a 40kWh battery (300 kilometres WLTP). The EV60 is priced from €41,995 and uses a 60kWh battery (450 kilometres WLTP). The Megane E-Tech EV60 also has a more powerful 220hp motor compared to the EV40's 130hp.

Renault has invested a lot in making the new Megane their best electric car yet. It uses a thinner battery with soundproofing foam between the battery and the floor and thicker door linings to give premium levels of refinement. The driving position has also improved compared to the Zoe, with a more natural and sporty feel to it.

On the road the Megane E-Tech feels very natural to drive with well-weighted controls and agile steering. It's nippy to drive and offers a number of different 'Multisense' driving modes including a livelier Sport mode and an Eco mode to maximise your driving range. The Megane also stands out for offering a very serene and relaxing drive for an electric hatchback.

There are also four levels of regenerative braking that are easy to adjust from paddles behind the steering wheel.

Official consumption is rated at just 16.1kWh per 100 kilometres and I averaged about 19kWh per 100 kilometres over a week of driving.

22kW AC charging comes as standard for faster AC charging and the EV60 offers the fastest DC charging at up to 130kW.

Rear seating in the Megane E-Tech
Rear seating in the Megane E-Tech

Did you like it?

Renault has done a great job in designing the new Megane E-Tech! After the Zoe, we had to wait a long time for Renault to come up with a bigger electric model but it's been worth the wait. The new Megane E-Tech is a fantastic evolution of the Megane range and definitely worthy of the badge.

It's a car that's easy to live with and has a fair amount of kerb appeal that ticks the desirability box too - important for a new electric model. Pricing and range are mostly competitive, and the Megane's upmarket, digital cabin goes a long way to soften the blow of what is now quite an expensive car to buy.

It's practical too with a big boot and the bonus of standard 22kW AC charging.

If you’re in the market for an electric hatchback, the Megane E-Tech is definitely one to check out.

The next model from the brand to hit Irish shores will be the new Renault Austral hybrid SUV.

Model tested: Renault Megane E-Tech EV60 Techno 
Price: 
€45,295 
Battery:
  60kWh
Range: 450 km (WLTP)
Power: 220hp
Top speed: 160 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 7.4 seconds
Motor Tax: 
€120 per year

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year

The new Renault Megane E-Tech - one of the best electric cars on the market right now
The new Renault Megane E-Tech - one of the best electric cars on the market right now

The Renault Austral

Renault Austral Review

The Renault Austral is the Renault brand's new mid-size SUV and is expected in Ireland in spring/summer of 2023. Along with the recently launched Renault Megane E-TECH electric hatchback and the award-winning Renault Arkana - Irish Medium SUV of the Year 2022 - the aim is to regain the brand’s foothold in the C-segment, Europe’s most popular car segment. Sold exclusively as a hybrid, the new Austral replaces the Kadjar in the Renault line-up.

Caroline travelled to Madrid with Renault Ireland to drive the new Austral ahead of its arrival in Ireland in 2023.

Styling

The new Renault Austral will be one of the best-looking SUVs on Irish roads in 2023. It sports an evolution of Renault's design language seen in the Megane E-TECH, but wrapped up in the stylish, rugged body of an SUV. It's the second Renault model to wear the brand's new logo, which is framed by a striking set of LED headlights. There's a similarly stylish light signature at the rear. A sculpted bonnet adds even more attitude, fast becoming a new signature of Renault cars and SUVs. Alloy wheel sizes vary from 17-inch to 20-inch, most of which are diamond cut. Trim levels for Ireland are yet to be confirmed but it's highly likely that the new range-topping 'Esprit Alpine' version will reach here. Inspired by the sporty roots of Renault's legendary Alpine brand of performance cars, it's available in exclusive Satin Shale Grey matte finish with special badging and numerous design upgrades inside and outside the car.

The new Renault Austral will arrive in Ireland in 2023!
The new Renault Austral will arrive in Ireland in 2023!

Interior

The Austral follows the lead of the new Megane E-TECH when it comes to interior design and technology - and then takes it to the next level again. It's very stylish and high-tech inside, built around the large OpenR screen that combines a 12.3-inch instrument display with a 12-inch vertical multimedia screen and uses a Google operating system. Super glossy to look at, but it also works really well. For example, Google apps like Google Assistant, Google Play Store and Google Maps are integrated into it. This technology combines perfectly with the driver display, with a number of different views available - one which turns the whole thing into a mirror image of your route on Google Maps. There's also an excellent head-up display available. Ventilation controls are accessed through the screen but there are some nice tactile buttons below to bring up the menu and adjust the temperature quickly.

We were driving top of the range Esprit Alpine models, which get lots of beautiful Alcantara trim inside and blue contrast stitching. The quality of the interior appears to be even better than what we've seen previously from the brand in the new Arkana for example, so we just have to see will this stay consistent throughout the range when the Austral arrives in Ireland next year.

Practicality

The Austral has been designed as a practical, five-seat family SUV and feels roomy inside. Rear passengers will find knee-room that is on par with the best in class at 27.4 cm. There are practical storage compartment located throughout the interior amounting to about 35 litres of interior storage. Renault has also brought back the 60:40 sliding rear bench in the Austral. That means the rear bench can be adjusted to maximise legroom for rear seat passengers or boot space, expanding capacity from 430 litres to 555 litres.

The interior of the new Austral
The interior of the new Austral

Engines

In Ireland, the Renault Austral will be available exclusively as a hybrid. The new range-topping hybrid uses a 1.2-litre, three cylinder petrol engine, 2 kWh 400V battery and 50kW electric motor, and will put out 200hp in the version that reaches Ireland. In some markets, an Austral petrol mild hybrid will also be available.

The new hybrid is a significant evolution of Renault's hybrid technology and promises better performance and refinement than before, while also reducing fuel use and CO2 emissions - 105 g of CO2/km, pending certification.

On the road

The new Renault Austral is the first Renault to use the CMF-CD platform and also debuts Renault’s third generation four-wheel steering that has been steadily improved over the past 15 years - 4Control Advanced. It won't be standard on every model, but the cars we drove at the launch in Spain all featured it. It improves the car's agility and driver engagement, with a turning circle of just 10.1 metres, rivalling a supermini. The Austral chassis comes in two versions: flexible torsion beam for two-wheel steering models and a more sophisticated multi-link rear axle with 4Control Advanced for four-wheel steering models. With the addition of a steering actuator on the multi-arm rear axle, the steering angle of the rear wheels is now 5°. Combined with the Multisense system, there are also now 13 different setting options, up from three previously!

The Austral will be exclusively hybrid
The Austral will be exclusively hybrid

On the road, the Austral feels immediately sophisticated and powerful. The delivery of power is smoother and stronger than in the Arkana 1.6 hybrid for example. The extra power helps, and the new hybrid offers more refinement too. The Austral weighs about 1500 kg, which certainly makes for a nice experience behind the wheel. Granted all versions we tested featured four wheel steering, but the Austral offered a precise and fun driving experience around the mountain roads above Madrid. It grips willingly, while the four wheel steering and assorted driving modes with varying levels of assistance add to a sense of connection between the car and driver that is rare in the segment. It also rides very well on large wheels, but there is wind whistle around the wing mirrors on the motorway at high speeds. And we can't give a verdict on what front wheel drive models will be like without four wheel steering and the more sophisticated rear suspension.

So is it efficient? During my test drive, I saw consumption as low as 5.3 litres per 100 km and as 'high' as 6.1 litres per 100 km. The Austral hybrid does not need to be plugged in and charged to get the best efficiency from the vehicle.

Pricing and Equipment

Pricing and equipment for the Austral in Ireland will be confirmed closer to launch. The new Austral will slot into the range above the Arkana, which is currently on sale from €30,790 for a petrol mild hybrid and from €33,590 for a 1.6 hybrid.

The new Austral is packed with 32 advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), up from 26 in the Megane E-TECH and 16 in the Arkana. They include a latest-generation head-up display, level 2 driving automation with Active Driver Assist, a 3D camera for 360° vision, full park assist and a detection system that prevents the car from pulling out if another vehicle is overtaking.

Boot space in the new Renault Austral
Boot space in the new Renault Austral

Summary

The new Renault Austral arrives in a segment that has been steadily moving towards hybrid and alternatives to traditional diesel engines that used to reign supreme in this segment. It presents challenges to carmakers to create more efficient SUVs with less emissions, while also being practical and good to drive.

Renault chooses a standard hybrid approach for new Austral, which they propose as a more practical motoring solution for their customers - the relative simplicity of it, efficiency without caveats of daily charging, and it's light, bringing a natural edge to on the road performance and driver engagement.

So far the range-topping versions tested with Renault's third generation four wheel steering shine for that powerful hybrid and smooth, agile drive, while also returning the sort of efficiency that rivals some diesels and small petrol hatchbacks. So much so that I suspect you won't actually miss diesel from the range.

This will be a stylish offering inside and out, with a great cabin experience and step forward in connectivity that means it's light years away from the Kadjar it replaces.

Renault makes a welcome return to the mid-size family SUV segment with the Austral!

The new Renault Austral will be one of the most stylish SUVs on Irish roads in 2023
The new Renault Austral will be one of the most stylish SUVs on Irish roads in 2023

____________________________

Written by Caroline Kidd

Founder and Editor of Changing Lanes, Juror for Irish Car of the Year


The new Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Renault Arkana Review

The new Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!
The new Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Read Caroline's Renault Arkana review for everything you need to know about buying the brand's new hybrid SUV in Ireland.

What's so special about the new Renault Arkana?

The Renault Arkana arrived in Ireland in 2021 and is a mid-size SUV priced from €30,340, with a hybrid available. This exciting new SUV coupé for the French brand will go on sale alongside the popular Captur and Kadjar SUVs, with Renault's latest mild hybrid and E-TECH hybrid powertrains making up the range.

The Kadjar is to be replaced in 2022 by a new SUV called the Austral so for the moment the Captur and the Arcana are the most up to date SUVs in the Renault range featuring the best of the brand's design, technology and innovation.

Renault we know already make some of the best-looking cars on the road and the Arkana is no different. SUV coupés used to be something premium brands brought to market to help their customers feel a little more unique and different to their SUV cousins.

Now Renault brings this design concept to the mass market with a very stylish Arkana. It particularly 'pops' in a bright colour like Valencia Orange and is certainly easily distinguishable from a Kadjar for example. The side profile is sporty with typical Renault flourish to the LED light signatures front and rear. Tinted windows, chrome trim on the wing badging, 3D rear LED lighting and 17-inch diamond-cut ‘Bahamas’ alloy wheels all feature on entry-level Iconic models, plus body-colour door handles with chrome and black lower door protection.

WATCH MY VIDEO REVIEW OF THE NEW ARKANA!

Inside the Arkana

The Arkana gets a new generation Renault interior. It makes all the difference to the desirability of this new model. The design is nice and there is a good fit and finish to the interior. It's probably the best quality we have seen in a Renault SUV to date.

There's also a significant digital presence in the cabin. Iconic models kick off the range with a 7.0-inch display with DAB radio and Bluetooth functionality, while S Edition and R.S. Line models have a 9.3-inch portrait screen featuring navigation with live traffic services and weather information, Google address search and 4G connectivity and automatic update services for three years. The 9.3 inch screen is worth the upgrade. It looks more modern in the centre of the dash and is nice to use. Arkana S Edition and R.S. Line models also feature a 7.0-inch TFT Driver Information Display ahead of the driver.

Arkana R.S. Line models like the one on test start from €35,140 but it's an even better looking car with a really great cabin. The interior of the Renault Arkana R.S. Line stands out with special R.S. Line sports seats upholstered in leather and suede-effect, complemented by red stitching that also extends to the door panels, gear lever and central armrest. Red detailing is also found on the leather steering wheel with unique R.S. Line marker. Completing the interior enhancements are aluminium pedals, a carbon-effect dashboard panel with full-width red trim, plus black headlining. It's just a nice cabin to spend time in and interact with.

The interior of the Renault Arkana R.S. Line
The interior of the Renault Arkana R.S. Line

It looks great but is it practical?

The Renault Arkana has not compromised space for style despite the sloping roofline and trendy SUV coupé looks. The Arkana belongs to the C segment and offers reasonable accommodation for a family with enough headroom in the rear and legroom for two adults to be comfortable.

Based on the CMF-B modular platform, the Arkana is longer than the Kadjar. It offers a high driving position popular with drivers of Renault’s SUVs. The boot is surprisingly large too, packing in 480 litres in E-TECH hybrids, and 513-litres with a variable-height boot floor in 1.3-litre mild hybrid petrol versions. For maximum interior space, the rear seats fold, leaving a level, flat load area for bulkier items. 

The Arkana was built to be a hybrid from the start of development and is a key model to push forward the broadened electrification of Renault’s model range. The brand's new E-TECH hybrid powertrain features across every trim level. It uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine, 1.2 kWh lithium-ion battery and two electric motors, with a power output of 145 hp.

Renault Ireland think it will be the engine of choice in the line-up for the majority of customers. It's proposed as the most efficient of the range, returning consumption as low as to 4.8l/100 km (WLTP). Arkana will also be available in Ireland with the TCe 140 petrol engine with mild-hybrid technology. This 1.3-litre engine has 140 hp and fuel consumption is officially rated at 5.8l/100km (WLTP). Both offerings are automatic by default. No manual gearboxes or diesel on offer in this range. 

The Renault Arkana R.S. Line in Valencia Orange
The Renault Arkana R.S. Line in Valencia Orange

Driving the Renault Arkana Hybrid

The Renault Arkana feels immediately mature and confident on the road. The handling is good with a nice flowing character through bends and body roll kept in check. On the motorway the Arkana cruises well with excellent refinement. It's a very comfortable car too, even on 18" wheels.

The Arkana Hybrid is a truly impressive car on the road. It feels more powerful than what 145 hp might suggest on paper. Then there's the way the power is delivered. There's no lumpiness to the transmission, just power delivered solidly and confidently. The batteyr boost makes it very responsive to the throttle.

But is it efficient? Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.1 litres per 100 km. So not quite as efficient as Renault claim but still good for a petrol driven mid-size SUV.

Did you like it?

Yes! The Renault Arkana is one of the best cars I drove in 2021. It looks great and for the moment remains quite a distinctive presence in the C-SUV segment with its sporty SUV-coupé looks. R.S. Line models are hugely desirable for their sporty inspired looks and the superbly finished cabin.

The Arkana is mature and confident on the road. Hybrid power suits it very well. While fuel efficiency is not quite diesel rivalling for drivers who regularly take long motorway commutes, it is a good hybrid SUV debut by Renault and there are no ugly surprises here when it comes to fuel consumption.

Around town the Arkana will do even better, running on electric power more but always with the back-up of the petrol engine. There is no charging involved of this E-TECH hybrid - which can be very convenient in its own way.

With SUVs still being the hot spot of the market, it seems there can never be too many available and the Arkana brings a typically premium SUV coupé style to the mass market - with considerable style.

The Renault Arkana on sale in Ireland priced from €30,140
The Renault Arkana on sale in Ireland priced from €30,140

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Arkana E-TECH Hybrid R.S. Line
Price:
€36,540
Engine: 1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
145 hp
Torque: 250 Nm
0-100km/h: 
10.8 seconds
Top speed: 172 km/h
CO2 emissions:
109 g/km
Motor tax: 
€180 per year


The 2021 Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Renault Megane Sport Tourer Review

The 2021 Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!
The 2021 Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the 2021 Renault Megane Sport Tourer Hybrid!

In late 2020, Renault launched a suite of new hybrid models in Ireland with some familiar faces – Clio, Captur and Megane! Hybrid is hot right now, and the technology holds much promise for Irish motorists.

Hybrid is a new direction for a brand that went electric for the first time with the launch of the Renault Zoe electric supermini back in 2012. With a strong customer base to work with in the Irish market, the French brand now adds petrol electric hybrids to the mix of diesel and petrol in key model ranges like the Captur and Megane.

What's new for the Megane in 2021?

The Renault Megane has also had some work done for 2021 to keep it fresh. The grille and bumpers have been updated, all the lights are now LED – front, rear, and fog - with dynamic indicators at the rear for the first time and new door-handle lighting.

The Megane is offered in three variants – hatchback, saloon (‘Grand Coupe’) and estate (‘Sport Tourer’). The hybrid debuts in the Megane Sport Tourer, though the hatchback will also soon be available as a hybrid too.

Plug-in hybrid power debuts for the first time in the Megane range in 2021
Plug-in hybrid power debuts for the first time in the Megane range in 2021

What's so special about the Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH Hybrid?

Here we find the practical and efficient Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH plug-in hybrid on test for Changing Lanes. The Sport Tourer is the one with the big boot and a good looker for those in the market for a compact estate car.

Priced at €30,490 in Iconic trim, or at €32,490 in the new sporty R.S. Line trim, the new Sport Tourer E-TECH brings hybrid to the Megane range for the first time. It uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine, two electric motors, and a 9.8 kWh battery. Power output is a healthy 160 hp making it the most powerful, while the automatic transmission adds to the high spec feel. In fact, it’s already shaping up as a good buy.

The beauty of the Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH is not just its good looks, but also the ability to plug it in and charge up the battery to experience driving on battery power alone up to 50 km.

Is it nice to drive?

And even when the battery power runs out, you have here a very efficient car with my fuel consumption averaging at 5.2 litres per 100 km over a week of driving. An official CO2 figure of 30 g per km means that this car is just €140 to tax per year.

The battery will charge in 3 hours from a wallbox or in just over 4 hours from a domestic 3-pin socket.

Inside the new Megane E-TECH Hybrid
Inside the new Megane E-TECH Hybrid

E-TECH powertrains use advanced technology influenced by the Renault DP World F1 team, including a multi-mode clutchless gearbox for smooth and swift responses.

With 160 hp available, the Megane Sport Tourer responds confidently to the throttle. The car feels natural on the road and remains a tidy handler through bends. It’s not a sports car, but overall feels very accomplished. There are no paddles to operate the automatic; but smooth shifts prevail most of the time. It’s highly commended for comfort too, which seals the deal for this test driver!

Is it practical?

Yes! Just look at it!

The Renault Mégane Sport Tourer sits on a longer wheelbase to the hatchback, making for a much more comfortable seating experience for rear seat passengers. There’s good headroom and the rear footwells have enough depth to be comfortable for long legged folk.

The boot is square with a low loading sill making it ideal for lifting things in and out more easily. Yet overall capacity is down to 447 litres to accommodate the battery. It’s still ‘big’ when you open the lid and look in – but a petrol or diesel Megane Sport Tourer will beat it for outright capacity. There is space beneath the boot floor to keep charging cables stowed away tidily.

The Megane estate hybrid is a practical and efficient car
The Megane estate hybrid is a practical and efficient car

Inside the Renault Megane Sport Tourer

Renault has also updated the Megane’s interior somewhat for 2021. No more need to complain about the fiddly ventilation controls. Renault has added in some shortcut buttons, dials and switches to alter fan speed and temperature the old-fashioned way. Much welcome when you are on the move.

The 7” touchscreen is fitted as standard to the E-TECH Iconic, with the more impressive 9.3” portrait style as standard on the R.S. Line model. There are a lot of hard plastics in here but generally it’s a solid effort from Renault. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also come as standard for more seamless access to media, contacts, and maps. There’s a magnificent 10.2-inch digital display for the driver.

The E-TECH Iconic has a good level of standard kit as well including cruise control, rear parking sensors and camera, dual zone climate control, 16” alloys, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, automatic high beam and ambient lighting.

The Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH hybrid retails from €30,490 in Ireland
The Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH hybrid retails from €30,490 in Ireland

Did you like it?

The Renault Megane Sport Tourer is nice to drive and very practical. This is a good looking car, with the practicality of an estate-style boot – regardless of the space being impeded somewhat by the battery, the boot floor is flat, the opening wide.

Considering the spec of the car, Renault Ireland has kept this particular model well-priced to keep it a real viable option in the Megane range.

This car marks a debut for plug-in hybrid in the Megane range, so the first Megane that can be charged up and ran using battery power for a limited range of up to 50 km. But Renault’s technical wizardry means that whatever way you run the Megane Sport Tourer, it’s very efficient.

Super comfortable on the road, this is a great car! Now check out my review of the latest Renault Megane 1.5 dCi hatchback.

The Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH is on sale now
The Renault Megane Sport Tourer E-TECH is on sale now

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Megane Sport Tourer Iconic E-TECH Plug-in Hybrid 160 Auto
Price: 
€30,490
Engine: 
1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 160 hp
Torque: 349 Nm
Top speed: 111 km/h
Acceleration (0-100 km/h): 9.8 seconds
CO2 emissions: 
30 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year


The Renault Captur E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Renault Captur Hybrid Review

The Renault Captur E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!
The Renault Captur E-TECH Hybrid on test for Changing Lanes!

Caroline drives the new Renault Captur Hybrid!

Renault joins the hybrid pack with the new Renault Captur E-TECH Plug-in Hybrid. The ever-popular Captur now offers buyers the choice of petrol, diesel or plug-in hybrid power, as tested here for Changing Lanes.

Based on the latest generation of the Captur - which launched in Ireland in 2020 - the new Renault Captur E-TECH Plug-in Hybrid offers buyers a pure electric driving range of up to 50 km with CO2 emissions as low as 34 g per kilometre.

What's new for the Captur in 2021?

Priced from €30,170, the new Renault Captur E-TECH sits at the higher end of the Captur range. There are two well-equipped trim levels – S-Edition and the all the bells and whistles E-TECH launch version (from €31,170). Under the bonnet, there’s a 1.6-litre petrol engine, which combined with two electric motors and 9.8 kWh battery produces 160 hp, making it the most powerful Captur in the range. It’s also an automatic by design for even more convenience in traffic or town.

At Changing Lanes, we are very fond of the latest generation of the Captur. Now in its second generation, the Renault Captur has really hit its stride in design and quality. It sports more mature styling but still looks fun, classy, and colourful. Interior quality has improved with a stylish finish that suits this small SUV very well indeed.

The Captur E-TECH Hybrid range starts from €30,170
The Captur E-TECH Hybrid range starts from €30,170

Inside the Renault Captur Hybrid

Inside the 2021 Renault Captur, you will find a comfortable cabin filled with Renault’s latest digital technology and infotainment. The portrait style touch screen measures 9.3 inches as standard and looks very contemporary in the centre of the dash, with crisp graphics and compatibility with smartphones through the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto interfaces. The driver also has the treat of a full digital driver display, which includes some information about the hybrid system for this special E-TECH model.

The Captur also appears perfectly sized with a good feeling of space inside the cabin, good shoulder room and feels roomy in the back for this class of vehicle. The rear bench can be slid forward and back as an extra practical feature. Boot volume is down on the standard diesel and petrol versions of the car – between 265 and 379 litres depending on position of the rear bench.

Equipment levels are very high with our S-Edition test car packing in traffic light recognition, cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, 17" alloys, automatic climate control, automatic high beam, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, roof bars, two tone colour paint, rear privacy glass and wireless phone charging.

Inside the new Renault Captur E-TECH Hybrid
Inside the new Renault Captur E-TECH Hybrid

So what’s it like to drive?

Based on Renault's modular CMF-B architecture, the new Captur was designed for electrification from the start. E-TECH powertrains use advanced technology influenced by the Renault DP World F1 team, including a multi-mode clutchless gearbox for smooth and swift responses.

The Captur E-TECH hybrid takes off super silently in electric power. It remains smooth and sophisticated in the cabin, dealing with bumps in the road well despite its compact nature. The extra power available in this car is a real surprise and battery powered acceleration a delight for the right foot. Who knew 160 hp in a Captur could feel so good? It gives this car the maturity and responsiveness of a larger, more sophisticated car.

The Captur handles the road well but it is not a sports car, with the battery adding some weight that makes it less up for a dance through corners. But we are happy with the Captur’s performance and think that Renault engineers have done a good job here.

Remember you can charge this car in about three hours at 3.6 kW and enjoy up to 50 km on full battery power. This is ideal for buyers who can charge regularly and drive around town often on electric power. I was a bit tardy when it came to charging, but I still managed to achieve an average fuel consumption over a week of driving of 5.7 litres per 100 kms. Not bad at all!

The Captur E-TECH is powerful and efficient
The Captur E-TECH is powerful and efficient

Did you like it?

The Renault Captur is a fantastic small SUV. Our recent test drive was a reminder of all we love about this car – stylish, fun interior, spacious and practical. So what happens when you add plug-in hybrid?

Renault is revving up their entire range at the moment with the addition of hybrid to Clio, Captur and the Megane range. Of course any manufacturer worth their salt needs to be rolling out this technology at the moment. Renault already markets the popular all-electric Renault ZOE. But plug-in hybrid can be an interesting stepping stone to going full electric, allowing users adapt to charging a car and running on electric power.

Renault has meshed plug-in hybrid technology well into the Captur so we are impressed with this car’s feel on the road and power. Even without charging it posts some competitive efficiency figures. Though the real bonus is for buyers who run on electric power regularly and keep the battery topped up.

Captur has already got some great petrol and diesel engines on offer in the range. The Captur plug-in hybrid has a high spec and automatic gearbox, but it still commands a high list price with some compromise to boot space.

We like the Captur plug-in hybrid – it’s a good car – and when you compare it to other high spec automatics in the Captur range, it’s priced in the same ballpark. Whatever way you look at Captur – petrol, diesel or hybrid – it makes such a great small SUV.

2021 Renault Captur - a great small SUV now with hybrid power!
2021 Renault Captur - a great small SUV now with hybrid power!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Captur E-TECH Plug-in Hybrid
Price: 
€30,170
Engine: 
1.6-litre petrol electric hybrid
Power: 
160 hp
0-100km/h:
10.1 seconds
Top speed: 
173 km/h
Fuel economy: 1.5-1.6 l/100 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 
34 g/km
Motor Tax: 
€140 per year

 


The 2021 Renault Mégane on test for Changing Lanes!

Renault Mégane Review (2021)

The 2021 Renault Mégane on test for Changing Lanes!
The Renault Mégane on test for Changing Lanes!

Read Caroline's Renault Mégane review for everything you need to know about buying Renault's hatchback in Ireland.

The Renault Mégane – famous for its sensuous curves and look-at-me lights. But could there be more to this French hatchback? It was time for Changing Lanes to rediscover the Renault Mégane!

The Mégane is a strong pillar of the Renault brand for 25 years. 7 million cars sold worldwide, 4 generations, 3 records on the prestigious Nurburgring track for the high performance models. My test drive coincided with the launch of the facelifted version of the Renault Mégane.

I have of course some very coloured history with this current series of Mégane. Launched back in 2016, I drove the new generation Mégane hatchback soon after its debut in Ireland. That was followed by the Renault Mégane Grand Coupé, 'the one with the separate boot'. But the pièce de resistance was the high performance Mégane twins – the Renault Mégane RS and the Mégane RS Trophy.

See how I remember all these details vividly? That’s because the Mégane always leaves an impression...

Renault has updated the Mégane for 2021
Renault has updated the Mégane for 2021

What's new for the Renault Mégane?

Now in 2021, the Renault Mégane is back with a suite of updates to keep it competitive in the C-segment, the one where the traditional family hatchbacks reside.

Some minor tweaks to styling for example. Nothing too serious. The hallmark sensuous design, dynamic lines, and bounteous rear are still there. There are new front and rear bumpers, and a sleek new front grille. The headlamps, tail lights and fog lights are now all LED, with dynamic indicators at the rear for the first time and new door-handle lighting, a touch more synonymous with premium cars.

New 16- and 18-inch wheels are also available as an option, as are new colours: Solar Copper, Baltic Grey and Highland Grey.

There’s also an exciting new trim level - R.S. Line - which replaces the previous GT Line. Inspired by the high-performance R.S. Méganes, it adds an F1-style front blade running the width of the front lower bumper of the car, R.S. Line bumper at the rear with dual chrome exhaust pipes, R.S. Line badging, and custom 17" alloy wheels.

There is great choice in the range with saloon, hatchback and estate models available.

Inside the new Renault Mégane R.S Line
Inside the new Renault Mégane R.S Line

Inside the Mégane

The latest Renault Mégane also offers a revamped and modernised interior. 7" and 9.3" screens are available for the multimedia system, as well as a magnificent 10.2-inch digital display for the driver. The Mégane’s interior has plenty of hard plastics about but there’s enough visual appeal to keep it interesting, while some new upholsteries and materials have been added.

Renault has also used the 2021 update as an opportunity to address some of the concerns we had about the tricky access to the ventilation controls through the touchscreen in previous versions of the car. There are now dials to control these functions. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto also come as standard for more seamless access to media, contacts and maps.

R.S. Line models stand out for lovely sport seats with additional lateral support that give you a real hug. There are also some carbon-look inserts, a perforated leather steering wheel stamped with the double R.S. diamond, and aluminium pedals. All in all, Renault has done a great job to make this cabin feel modern and sporty.

The latest Mégane is equipped with new driver-assistance systems for the safety and comfort of all passengers, including the Highway & Traffic Jam Companion, a Level 2 autonomous system that ensures comfort and peace of mind while driving.

The Mégane is a classic five seat hatchback, but it's not among the most spacious in its class for rear legroom. In fact the Mégane Grand Coupé and Sport Tourer sit on a longer wheelbase so feel more accommodating in this regard. The boot volume is a healthy 394 litres.

The Mégane Hatchback goes on sale in Ireland priced from €24,290
The Mégane Hatchback goes on sale in Ireland priced from €24,290

Petrol, diesel or hybrid?

Exciting times at Renault as the brand launched more hybrids and plug-in hybrid across the range in 2020. Now the Mégane also benefits from this technology, with all-new plug-in hybrids available for 2021. The plug-in hybrid Mégane Sports Tourer is already on sale here, but a plug-in hybrid Mégane Hatchback will arrive shortly.

The Mégane is also offered with petrol and diesel engines. The petrol range is built around a 1.3-litre turbo petrol with 140 hp and matched to a six-speed manual transmission or dual-clutch seven-speed EDC automatic transmission. The diesel range uses the tried and tested 1.5-litre turbo diesel, which continually impresses us at Changing Lanes. Such frugality! A six-speed manual transmission or a dual-clutch seven-speed automatic transmission is also available with this engine.

Renault has refined their 1.5-litre diesel engine over the years and improved its efficiency even more. Running costs are low. Motor tax is €190 per year and over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 4.9 litres per 100 km.

Power output might look modest at 115 hp but it’s no hassle at all behind the wheel. It just performs and returns the sort of efficiency that makes you stop for a minute to appreciate the modern diesel engine.

The Mégane is available with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines
The Mégane is available with petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid engines in 2021

What are my options?

Pricing starts from €24,290 for the hatchback. Buyers will pay about a €1000 premium for the Grand Coupé and Sport Tourer. There is good enough reason for this as the Grand Coupé and Sport Tourer sit on a longer wheelbase so offer more legroom in the rear.

We will focus on the hatchback pricing to give you some context here. There are three trim level: Play, Iconic and R.S. Line. Play models kick off from €24,290, Iconic from €26,690, and R.S. Line from €28,690, all prices quoted for the 1.3-litre petrol engine. Diesels start from €26,290.

Standard equipment includes rear parking sensors, automatic dual zone climate control, 7” touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, and LED headlights/fog lights.

The Iconic trim line adds items such as lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, automatic high/ low beam, ambient lighting, driving modes, power door mirrors, 16” alloys, and leather steering wheel.

The Mégane R.S. Line is sporty and fun
The Mégane R.S. Line is sporty and fun

Did you like it?

To sum up. Can the Mégane cut it in 2021?

Yes it can. The Renault Mégane looks good anywhere. The R.S. Line is beautiful to look at with lots of sporty details. It’s a car you park and then keep looking around to admire its beautiful curves and stance. Priceless.

Inside the Megane puts on a good show for driver and guests. The facelift and addition of the R.S. Line breathes new life into it. The digital instrument panel has had a lift with new graphics, and the portrait-style touchscreen on top spec models looks slick in the centre of the dash. Renault keeps the pricing competitive also.

The Mégane tackles the road with confidence without any particular sparkle in any one area. Steering weights up nicely in corners, with good body control allowing you to accurately place the car on the road. It’s comfortable on the motorway and the large alloy wheels only really protest over rough surfaces around town or on rural roads. As a diesel hatchback, the Mégane is simple, uncomplicated and efficient means of getting around, with a little bit of flair. The 18" alloys on our test car gripped the road exceptionally well.

Swift and supple. The Mégane makes you feel good behind the wheel. These days that’s a simple pleasure to lift the most boring days.

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Mégane Blue dCi 115 R.S. Line
Price: 
€30,690
Engine: 1.5-litre turbo diesel
Power: 
115 hp
Torque: 260 Nm
0-100km/h:  
11.1 seconds
Top speed: 190 km/h
Economy (WLTP): 6.8 l/100 km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 119 g/km
Motor Tax:  €190 per year


The 2020 Renault Captur now on sale in Ireland!

Renault Captur Review (2020)

The 2020 Renault Captur now on sale in Ireland!
The 2020 Renault Captur now on sale in Ireland!

Caroline drives the new Renault Captur!

The 2020 Renault Captur arrives in Ireland to build on the success of generation #1 of the popular Renault small SUV. Styling has been modernised in line with other models in the Renault range and a brand-new interior delivers more maturity and better quality finish. There are new trim levels and engines, with Captur in Ireland powered by petrol, diesel, and a plug-in hybrid soon to arrive. Customisation remains a key component of the Captur’s approach to the segment. In Ireland the Captur range begins from €21,995. In this Irish review, I’ll be testing the new Renault Captur for the first time on Irish roads!

Captur success story in Ireland

When the first generation of the Renault Captur arrived in Ireland in 2013, compact SUVs and crossovers were still very much a novelty. The motor industry was dipping a toe into this segment, which we were promised would just grow and grow. And so it came to pass. Like our neighbours in Europe, we too have a special grá for these SUV-inspired small crossovers.

Since then we have seen an explosion in the market with every brand worth its salt launching one. However, in a relatively short space of time the Captur has gained notoriety that many can only dream of. The Captur has always worn its colours boldly, a fun, cheerful Clio-based small SUV that quickly became a hit. For a time it was Ireland’s bestselling B-SUV. Such popularity cannot be ignored but the Captur was starting to be eclipsed by newer rivals.

And so enters generation #2 of the Renault Captur! Earlier in 2020, Changing Lanes was very impressed with the new Renault Clio. Now can Renault capture the same sparkle?

The new Captur is available in three trim levels with petrol and diesel engines
The new Captur is available in three trim levels with petrol and diesel engines

What's new for 2020?

Approaching the Captur for the first time and you notice just what a good looking car this has become. It’s matured and has a great presence on the road and in the car park. The Captur knows who it is and really convinces with a stylish, but rugged new shape.

The details really make it – a bold colour palette, two tone roof, plastic cladding and of course a very daring light signature at the front and the rear. You’ll know when you’ve been Captured!

The length of the vehicle has increased by 110 mm, while there is also a higher waistline. It's a true SUV stance emphasised by tough-looking front and rear protection skid plates, chunky protective mouldings that run the length of the lower body, and pronounced wheel arch extensions.

Full-LED headlamps are now standard across the range. Renault’s trademark C-shaped daylight running light signature raises the Captur's game for 2020 and there is a similar C-light signature at the rear.

Inside the 2020 Renault Captur

Inside, Renault has taken the same upmarket approach. The previous generation of the car had a cheaper, supermini feel to it. But now the Captur feels like a stand alone model in the Renault range that doesn’t need to be compared to the Clio. A lot of this is down to the raised seating position and arrangement of the instruments in the car, in what Renault calls the 'Smart Cockpit'. You sit high in the Captur compared to some more crossover-like rivals, and the gear lever is raised in the centre console to your left.

There has also been a huge improvement in quality and technology, which adds even more pleasantries to the cabin of the Captur. There are new 7" and 9.3" touchscreens as well as a digital information display for the driver available. The top of the range S-Edition on test for Changing Lanes is loaded with equipment including ambient lighting to bathe the interior in a soft glow at night. But a special mention must be made for the seats with super stylish upholstery any trendsetter will love.

Soft-touch plastics and satin finishes are used throughout, while the front seats have an entirely new design for more comfort.

The interior of the 2020 Renault Captur
The interior of the 2020 Renault Captur

Is it practical?

Practicality has always been a core strength of the Renault Captur, and this model is one of the best in class for interior space and clever features. The Captur is bigger inside that the Clio, with more headroom and legroom in the rear. Rear legroom has been boosted by 17 mm, thanks in part to re-designed front seats that also benefit from slimmer headrests to improve visibility. The middle seat is small but that goes with the territory of these small SUVs.

The designers have managed to create 81 more litres space in the boot, and its width and depth make it ideal for families. There is also a false floor, which can be moved around in a number of configurations. The pièce de résistance is a sliding rear bench that can be moved to create even more space in the boot (maximum of 536 litres).

What’s the range like in Ireland?

In Ireland the Captur is sold in three trim levels – Play (from €21,995), Iconic (from €23,645) and S-Edition (from €25,645). This is spot on pricing territory for this class of vehicle and the Captur is a substantial car.

Standard equipment on Play models includes 7” touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED lights, climate control and 17” alloy-look flex wheels, auto lights and wipers, lane assist, traffic sign recognition and autonomous emergency braking.

Iconic models add keyless entry, navigation, parking sensors, roof rails and the two-tone paint look. The top of the range S-Edition on test for Changing Lanes features a 9.3” portrait multimedia screen, parking camera, part leather seats, auto high beam, and much more.

There are a range of bold colours available for the new Captur including Atacama Orange
There are a range of bold colours available for the new Captur including Atacama Orange

Customers can choose from 11 exterior colours and four roof finishes. The test car was finished in an Alabaster White body colour with a Black Pearl roof. Magnifique!

At launch the Captur is available with a new 1.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 100 hp or 1.3-litre turbo petrol with 130 or 155 hp. For buyers looking for the best economy there is a 1.5-litre diesel with 95 or 115 hp. Diesel models are available from €23,995. Manual and EDC automatic gearboxes are available. Motor tax ranges from €190 to €270. There is also a petrol plug-in hybrid expected in Ireland before the end of the year, though pricing has not been confirmed yet.

Driving the new Renault Captur

The new Captur is built on a new platform that also underpins the 2020 Renault Clio. Engineers have worked to improve safety and dynamic performance with a strengthened body structure that uses high-tensile steel and structural adhesive for improved bonding of the panels. The new architecture is also lighter and more aerodynamic. Special attention has been paid to reducing noise inside the cabin, with materials providing greater insulation and soundproofing, especially in the engine compartment.

This means that the Captur slips effortlessly from town to motorway, feeling robust and refined. On the road the Captur is set up for comfort, with a compliant suspension that does a great job of making this a relaxed drive. The steering is light and there is not a hint of sportiness to the way this car handles but comfort should be a high priority in this segment.

In terms of engines, the petrol line-up starts with the 1.0 TCe 100 hp turbocharged three-cylinder unit first used in the Clio. It's paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox. Performance can feel a bit sluggish in the Captur 1.0-litre with 0 to 100 km/h in 13.3 seconds, but it's economical and decent progress can be made. Over a week of driving my average fuel consumption was 6.1 l/100 km and motor tax is €200 per year.

The next step up in the petrol range is the four-cylinder 1.3 TCe 130 with more power and stronger acceleration. It's available with a standard six-speed manual gearbox or optional 7-speed EDC automatic.

The new Renault Captur has many practical features
The new Renault Captur has many practical features

Did you like it?

Renault has made a popular model even better. There’s a pleasant air of maturity to this new Captur. It not only looks better, with a lovely balance between rugged SUV looks and urban style, but this theme runs indoors too.

The Captur’s cabin now feels befitting of a larger car and throws off any feelings of budget. Granted there is more bling as you go up the trim levels, but the cabin experience is undeniably good in the Captur.

The French compact SUV is not the sharpest to drive among its competitors but bites back with a comfortable, relaxed ride that is just as desirable in this class of vehicle. It’s refined and while the 1.0-litre has average performance, it is attractively efficient and cheap to run. This is a nice sized car too offering customers a substantial amount of interior space and clever practical features.

There is great breadth to the range with small petrol engines and efficient diesels, while an on trend plug-in hybrid is on the way shortly, though we don’t know how that will be priced yet. In what's currently available, pricing feels spot on with ‘basic’ cars coming well equipped.

Captur has grown up but still carries cheerful charisma in the B-SUV segment!

Bold styling and a practical interior make the Captur stand out
Bold styling and a practical interior make the Captur stand out

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Renault Captur S-Edition TCe 100
Price: 
€25,645 (from €21,995)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
100 hp
Torque: 160 Nm
0-100km/h:  
13.3 seconds
Top speed: 173 km/h
Fuel economy (WLTP): 5.9 l/100km
CO2 emissions (WLTP): 133g/100km
Motor Tax:  €200 per year