Renault Megane Road TestBy admin • Feb 16th, 2009 • Category: Car Reviews
Far from the ‘ass-shaking’ outgoing model, Renault has adopted a much more conservative look for this - the all new Megane. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is down to personal taste, but certainly VW and Ford have gone for similarly safe approaches with fellow family hatchback rivals, the Golf and Focus.
This Megane’s classy interior, however, is a vast improvement, adopting some elements from the bigger, plusher Laguna in terms of the dash and centre console layout. Our only criticism is the slightly cheap-looking LED digital speedometer which looks out of place next to the analogue rev-counter.
Generally, there’s a perception of quality that wasn’t evident in the previous Megane. We like the soft touch textiles, the chunkier doors and sculpted front seats. There’s a decent amount of interior space too (this car is wider than its predecessor) and legroom in the rear will be more than acceptable for most passengers. The boot is one of the largest in its class with 405 litres of space, making it perfect for the weekly ‘big shop’.
On the road the Megane is a competent and relaxing car to drive and, as a result, motorway miles slip away without fuss. A strong range of engines are on offer, but our pick of the bunch is the smooth and frugal 1.5 DCi diesel, which returns 62.8mpg and pumps out a mere 120g/km CO2.
While the new Megane offers compliant and safe handling, it never feels particularly engaging. The brakes are progressive and manual gear change pleasant to use, but the steering is too light and numb, which can make the driver feel detached from the car.
On one hand some buyers will appreciate this effortless and relaxing aspect of the Megane?s character, but enthusiasts looking for an engaging and energetic drive will be disappointed.
This Megane will be available in two bodystyles: the inconspicuous hatchback and the much sleeker, sexier Megane Coupe (which is essentially the three-door version). Renault is keen to differentiate the three-door as a model in its own right, so it’s calling it the Coupe and has given it enticing looks that are much more impressive than the hatchback?s.
The Megane Coupe is lower and more aggressive, with a sloping roofline and highlighted intakes at the front. But despite the dynamic styling, boot space is still on a par with the Focus hatch (385 litres) and you can get two adults in the rear easily. It is around £400 more expensive than the five-door hatchback, but the added visual appeal could justify the premium.