Renault Megane Review
A whole new Megane loaded with clever technology and a new warm-hatch edition. Can the new model keep up with competitors? Read on...
- Very attractive interior and exterior
- Useful portrait centre console
- GT model has generous, balanced economy and power
- No manual option in GT version
- Touch screen is a bit jittery
- High load lip on the boot
The Renault Megane has now entered its 5th generation and is looking better than ever. They’ve sold over 5 million Meganes in Europe since the first, boxxy-shaped, Megane made it’s introduction back in 1996.
This is a brand new model, not a facelift, on a new platform with some bold technological and mechanical enhancements to set itself apart from competitors, including 4 wheel steering! We had the pleasure of testing the humble 1.5dCi engine as well as the fruity 1.6tce petrol. Read on to hear our thoughts on both...
On the Road
The 1.5dCi fitted to the Megane is the same unit we’ve seen in countless other models, from various manufacturers. A tried-and-tested engine that can be found in the Mercedes A Class, Dacia Duster, Nissan Qashqai, Renault Captur - to name a few. The reason this engine has been so popular is simple; it’s exceptional and permissive. You don’t feel short-changed with this engine, which is true in the Megane. There’s plenty of oomph to satisfy you on day to day driving and the car gets up to speed with no trouble at all on the motorway. 74mpg and £0 road tax under current rates should be enough to sway speculative buyers.
Next, the 1.6 turbo’d petrol GT edition - a ‘warm’ hatch that offers plenty of power and performance. We’re going to have to wait until 2018 for the full-blooded, Type-R contending, Megane RS - but the guys at RenaultSport have put together a work of art to keep us ticking over in the meantime. Pushing out 205bhp through a particularly satisfying autobox, we concluded that this is just about as much power you’d need in an everyday car to make sure it is fun while still remaining easy to live with. 0-60 is a swift-but-modest 7.5 seconds and the car is also capable of returning 57.7 mpg on a motorway stretch.
Few front wheel drive hatches come to life in the bends quite like the Megane does and that is thanks to some very clever 4 wheel steer technology. Labelled ‘4Control’, at speeds up to 37mph, the rear wheels will steer the opposite way to the front wheels to a maximum of -2.7degrees. This significantly reduces the turning circle and really removes the worrying thoughts of ‘please don’t understeer, please don’t understeer, please don’t understeer.’ With every apex you nail, your ego inflates accordingly. When above 37mph the rear wheels will turn up to +1 degree in the same direction as the fronts, making it extremely stable at motorway speed. The best thing is, it’s not a gimmick; it actually works. The car behaves like a much more stable, longer wheelbase vehicle when changing lanes which will encourage the driver endlessly.
As mentioned above, we’ve driven this diesel engine in a number of different cars and we’re happy to report it feels rather well-contained inside the Megane, particularly compared to the Dacia models. It stays hushed under normal driving and makes a satisfying grumble when pushing on, but it’s in no way intrusive and the pedals don’t vibrate much at all, even in a diesel! In the GT, however, it’s quite a different story. Pop the car into Sport mode using the R.S button in the centre console and put your foot down - it makes the dials go red, among other things. You get a pleasing sound from the ‘engine’ but it’s important to remember that a large percentage of this is actually recorded noise being pumped through the Bose stereo speakers. You quickly forget that some of the noise is artificial though when you meet (and monster) the first corner you come across and every corner after that. There is also Eco Mode, which turns everything green and then quitens the engine noise down, making a very comfortable cabin all the more sedate. The steering wheel also lightens up in eco-mode, which is ideal for the mundane journey we all endure.
In the car
It’s a welcoming place to be, the inside of the new Megane. There is loads of ambient lighting in the door cards, centre console and footwell; creating a warm and inviting atmosphere which changes colour relevant to the driving mode you select. One of our favourite features is the 7.8inch, portrait touch-screen that controls the majority of driver-operable features. It’s odd to see at first but it really does make a lot of sense, particularly when using the sat nav as you can see more of the road layout ahead than if it were landscape. This style seems to have been derived from the Tesla Model S but we wouldn’t be surprised if a lot more manufacturers followed suit. Portrait displays are available from the Dynamique S Nav trim-level up.
Another excellent feature is the digital dash which displays your speedo, fuel level, odometer etc. Again, this has many different modes and changes in colour and layout depending on which driving settings you select. In the GT model, switch to Sport mode, everything goes red, your speed is more pronounced and the redline is exaggerated on the rev counter. This really makes you feel a sense of occasion from behind the leather wrapped wheel. No, there isn’t a manual option available in the GT model and yes, it would be nice to have one. Don’t go thinking this EDC auto-box isn’t up to the task though, the paddles are responsive behind the wheel and the gear changes are slick and satisfying when you’ve got your foot down in sport mode. In comfort mode the changes are still quick but certainly less sudden, suitably comfortable.
The boot of the car wins gold medal against the traditional competitors of the Renault Megane. You’ve got a full 384-litres of luggage capacity with the rear seats in place; this is 4litres more than the Golf, 14litres more than the Astra and almost 70litres more than the Ford Focus! The only downside is a slightly raised loading lip which could prove to be a bit of a nuisance for buyers who often carry heavy items.
You’ve got plenty of space in the front and back to carry 4 adults in comfort, you can get three kids in the back no problem, but we want to talk about the seats. The front driver and passenger bucket seats in the GT are heavenly. You’re held firm in place, encouraging you to take the corners that bit quicker, but you’re also supremely comfortable. The Alcantara feel is angelic too. Really, really good seats.
Looking for affordability and efficiency over everything else? Get the 1.5dCi 110. This engine offers 74mpg (which is actually achievable) as well as being free to tax each year. There’s a 130 diesel available but the performance difference isn’t going to be enough to justify reducing the mpg’s and adding £20 to your outgoings for road tax.
Want something fast, fun and still relatively affordable? This new Megane GT might just be the best warm-hatch on the market. 205bhp is just about as much power as you’ll need on a day to day basis and road tax is only £30 per year. This car will also return you just shy of 50mpg - we can’t think of a single warm-hatch comparable to the GT that offers anywhere near this. If you can, let us know!
Being a brand new car means that it hasn’t yet stood the test of time and therefore we don’t really have any evidenced claims to make about its durability over the long term. What we do know is that the new Megane comes out of an ultra modern factory in Palencia, Spain, and Renault plan on using this platform for a number of upcoming vehicles as well as potentially on some new Nissans too. What this tells us is that they clearly have a lot of faith in the product, and sitting inside the car nothing really feels poorly made or sub-par to standards at all. Material selection is mature and sophisticated with soft touch plastics, alcantara, leather and suede dashed throughout the interiors of various spec levels. No complaints, looks like a marked improvement in terms of quality and reliability of its predecessor.
5 stars on the NCAP euro safety tests - again! Renault have proven themselves to be making extremely safe vehicles time and time again with consistently high scoring cars on the stringent NCAP tests.
Safety is a core value of the new Megane. There’s a whole host of technology including Adaptive Cruise Control, Active Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning, Safe Distance Warning, Overspeed Prevention, Traffic Sign Recognition and Blind Spot Warning. The radar scanning the roads ahead for potential dangers is neatly hidden within the Renault logo, a rather nice touch.