Renault Megane Review
Recently revamped with a Clio-like face, Renault’s Megane range boasts improved quality but some engines need more power
- Sporty, sophisticated looks
- Agile handling
- Renaultsport models are exceptional drives
- Price of style means cramped rear seats
- Too much wind and tyre noise on some surfaces
- Some versions don’t hold their value well
Renault’s comprehensive Megane range starts at £16,750 with the five-door hatchback, while for those wanting or needing an estate car there’s Sport Tourer models from £17,750.
More style, but less space, is available with the Coupe line-up which starts at £18,250.
Even those who like the wind in their hair have not been forgotten with the Coupe Cabriolet which kicks off at £23,800.
And if these aren’t enough, for the enthusiastic driver there are the sublime handling Renaultsport versions of the coupe which top out with the 275 Trophy R at £36,430.
On the Road
Renault face lifted the Megane in 2012 and again in 2014. We have yet to drive the new GT 220 launched in February 2015which sits below the barnstorming Renaultsport Megane, but the range has been given a more aggressive look with a Clio-like ‘beak’ and bigger, more purposeful air intakes set beneath chunkier bumpers.
There’s an aerodynamic diffuser at the rear to take advantage of the air flow under the car.
The TCE 180 test car ran on fat 225/14 R17 tyres but still managed to deliver good ride comfort as well as tenacious road grip and 0-60mph acceleration in just 7.5 seconds. Top speed is 142mph.
It was a real flyer yet tall gearing in fifth and sixth gears mean unstressful cruising. And when you don’t want to make the effort the engine dishes up near diesel flexibility from low revs.
Currently there’s a choice of diesel engines with 110 or 130 horsepower or petrol engines with 220, 265 or 275 bhp.
Renault is rather good at steering feel even though its cars are front wheel drive so that the pureness of the steering is corrupted by the need for the front wheels to also transmit the engine power to the road.
As with the family hatchback, the steering of the sexier, sportier coupe is pretty informative.
Our TCe 180 Megane Coupe just loved the twisty stuff and never failed to put a smile on our faces.
The suspension damping has been stiffened by about 20% but the car still rides well and doesn’t overreact to bumps or white line road markings like so many over-tyred Audis and BMWs.
It has more relaxed chassis settings than the hard core Renaultsport versions.
Front end grip is so good in the sportier versions that you are rarely aware of the front end starting to run wide on a tight bend in the wet unlike a stiffly sprung ‘hot’ VW Scirocco I tried recently.
On paper the Megane Coupe may only be a dressed up version of a mainstream family hatchback but Renault’s engineers know how to make a car handle sweetly.
The engine gets a bit harsh if you take it to maximum revs and there’s sometimes a sensation of it being held back by an invisible leash.
Most engines though are quiet at cruising speeds and don’t need maximum attack mode for brisk performance.
Tyre noise can be a din on some road surfaces, especially concrete sections of motorways. Some cars have more wind noise than others at speed.
In the car
The rather ‘busy’ dashboard has been cleaned up a lot and the surrounding trim is a higher quality and more squidgy.
We found the seats well shaped and there’s a nice chunky steering wheel.
The main instrument dials are clear but the satellite navigation system and the radio and stereo are rather fiddly to operate, certainly at first acquaintance.
Rear visibility is predictably bad thanks to the gorgeous styling – Italian super cars are even worse! – and clambering in and out of the back seats is for the nimble and preferably smaller of stature.
Standard equipment includes a leather rimmed steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, rain sensing windscreen wipers, automatic head lights, electric windows and folding wing mirrors.
Rear parking sensors are a big help. The new Limited model has as standard electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with emergency brake assist, cruise control and speed limiter.
The Renault Megane Coupe debuted in 2009 but so right was the styling that it has only taken minor facelifts to keep it a glamour model still able to compete with Volkswagen’s swish Scirocco coupe.
The front seat is the place to travel if you are tall as the rear seats lack both head and legroom and it is quite dark in the back.
The boot isn’t as big as the hatchback, losing nearly 30 litres and dropping to about 345 litres with the rear seats in use. You can increase this to 991 litres if you lower the standard split-folding rear seats. This is a bit fiddly.
There is quite a high sill to lift bags over but this makes the back of the car strong in event of a rear impact.
Matching specifications the Megane coupe comes out as less expensive than Vauxhall’s Astra GTC Coupe or Volkswagen’s Scirocco which is not as spacious in the rear seats.
But Meganes tend to hold the value less well than the Scirocco and even the new 220 GT is less fuel efficient and has higher CO2 emissions than Seat’s impressive rival Leon SC Cupra.
Coupe prices start at £18,250 for the 1.6 litre 109bhp petrol and go to £25,935 for the 263bhp Renaultsport Nav 265.
The Coupe costs more than five-door versions but lower volumes and its greater style should mean it holds its value better.
Carbon dioxide emissions for the new petrol engines vary from 119g/km for the 1.2 litre TCe 115 to 174g/km for the Renaultsport Nav265.
Official fuel figures for these models on the combined test cycle are 53.3mpg and 37.7mpg.
If you do enough mileage to justify the cost, the mid-range turbo diesels like the 1.5 litre dCi (but not the slow 86 version) offer an excellent blend of performance with fuel economy.
To keep costs under control look at Renault’s comprehensive 4+ after-sales package, which includes four years servicing, breakdown assistance, warranty and financing.
Value for money wise the Megane tested was an eight out of ten car providing you got a good one.
True, it can’t make the great fuel economy of the 1.5 dCi turbo diesel - go now for the 1.6 litre 130 petrol model – but you will find the cruise control and speed limiter useful licence savers in our speed obsessed country.
Cabin materials in the Megane look and feel good quality and were well fitted together in the test car with no squeaks, creaks or rattles.
The company hasn’t fared too well in customer satisfaction surveys in the past but has improved in the last couple of years. Overall, owners now rate Renaults as above average for reliability.
The cars come with a four year/ 100,000 mile guarantee.
Owners have reported some (rare) cam belt failures, electrical issues including electric windows misbehaving but most fault seem to have been cabin rattles and flimsy trim. Renault says this only applies to early cars.
All Meganes come with front, side and curtain airbags fitted as standard.
Electronic stability control and anti-skid (ASR) systems keep the car going where you want and tyre pressure monitoring assures the dangers of a puncture are warned against.
A high-resolution camera ahead of the interior mirror detects markings on the road and gives an audio and visual alert if you cross a continuous or broken line on the road.
For nighttime driving, the Visio System automatically switches between dipped-beam and main-beam headlights.
Because the French now also ‘farm’ motorists the Megane is available with cruise control and a speed limiter.
The Megane hatchback scored four stars out of five in the independent EuroNCAP crash test assessment with 83% for adult protection and 78% for child protection. Pedestrian safety was assessed at 69%.
The doors have deadlocks and the car comes with an alarm.