Road test: Renault Mégane

Posted on February 19th, 2016 by James Luckhurst

If you like your in-car tech then the Renault Mégane is worth a look.

Road test: Renault Mégane

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What is it?

The Mégane is the fourth generation of Renault’s hatchback. It goes on sale mid-2016 in five-door hatch form with an estate following later, but no three-door version.

How safe is it?

Renault has developed a good reputation for safety and the new Mégane is no exception with a five-star Euro NCAP rating and a host of driver assistance systems.

Who should buy one?
If you need a family hatch with lots of in-car technology the Renault Mégane is for you. This extends beyond the safety systems to the large screen in the dashboard.

Road test by Tristan Young published 20 February 2016

DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
Road test: Renault Mégane

We drove two versions of the Renault Mégane, the 205hp GT powered by a 1.6-litre petrol engine and a GT-line specification example of the 130hp 1.6-litre diesel.
The GT is only available with a seven-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. While this gearbox is almost always smooth in its changes, in the full auto mode it would occasionally change gear with a thud at random which would leave you yearning for a manual gearbox in this quick-ish version.
There are other issues that afflict both the GT and the 1.6-litre diesel. Neither car was blessed with a great deal of feedback from the steering which made it hard to detect what was going on at the front wheels.
Both engines also transmitted a significant amount of noise and vibrations through to the cabin. The cars we drove suffered from occasional rattles and buzzes from interior trim, too. And on the motorway there was a level of wind noise from the door mirrors that you don’t expect on a car in this class.
On the upside, the diesel’s power delivery is impressive both for its strength and for its linearity, giving a good level of shove from low down the rev range all the way to just beyond 4000rpm – even if at that point is was noisy.
Steering aside, the fun-factor in the diesel was high thanks to decent body control from the compliant suspension. The GT, however, comes with a rear-wheel steer system that tightens the car’s turn-in below 50mph and makes it more stable above 50mph. It works well, but given how good the standard suspension is, it doesn’t seem necessary.
However, overall the driving experience is an area that lets the Mégane down.

SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Road test: Renault Mégane

The car is longer (by 64mm) and lower (by 25mm) than the previous model. The additional length has been used to improve both the rear-seat legroom and the boot space. However, the lower roofline means that while there’s enough legroom for a six-foot tall adult in the rear seats, their head will be touching the roof lining.
The low roofline also has an impact on rearward visibility with a noticeably small rear screen when looking in the rear-view mirror.
The boot is a usefully sized 384 litres below the luggage cover. That’s not as much room as the biggest cars in this class, but it is very good.
Up front, the driver and passenger seats are very supportive and comfortable, and even more so in the sporty 205hp GT model.
While the glovebox is a good size, and there is a useful central cubby area too, the door bins are small and will only take smaller sized water bottles.

SAFETY
Road test: Renault Mégane

Alongside a five-star Euro NCAP rating, Renault has also developed a host of active driver aids that, depending on trim level, are either fitted as standard or can be ordered as options, including adaptive cruise control, active emergency braking, lane departure warning, safe distance warning, traffic sign recognition and blind spot warning.
Renault also offers 360 degree parking sensors which warn if the side (as well as front and rear) of the car is close to an object.

EQUIPMENT
Road test: Renault Mégane

While final equipment levels will be revealed closer to the on-sale date, Renault has said that all cars will come with a configurable TFT screen speedo with settings relayed from the 7-inch (on lower trim levels) or 8.7-inch (high-spec cars) portrait orientation screen in the centre of the dashboard. As well as satnav, radio and apps, the screen can also control the driving mode, switching between sport, normal, eco and individual settings.

COSTS

Road test: Renault Mégane

Running costs look set to be very competitive. All of the diesels promise very good fuel economy. The most efficient diesel, the 110hp 1.5-litre, has a claimed figure of 85.6mpg. Carbon dioxide emissions are subsequently very low at 86g/km which puts the car in Band A for VED which means there’s no bill to pay. Even the 130hp 1.6 diesel we drove comes in at 70.6mpg and is in Band B for VED.

WE SAY

If you like your in-car tech then the Renault Mégane is worth a look.

AT A GLANCE:
Price: £17,500 – £23,000
Performance: 0-62mph in 10.0 seconds
Economy: 70.6mpg combined
Insurance: Group 19 (estimate)
Tax: Band B (£0 first year)

Figures for the Renault Mégane 1.6dCi 130 5dr hatch