Renault Megane, dynamic and spirited
The on-road performance and driving enjoyment of the Renault Mégane hatchback lives up to its eye-catching styling. The handling is precise, responsive and predictable and permits a dynamic, yet always reassuring driving style.
The latest Mégane is more conventionally styled than it`s predecessors, but still decidedly European. It is also longer and more spacious, but 11kg lighter than the previous model. The combination of lower weight and optimised aerodynamics has contributed to reduced consumption and emissions, but without sacrificing driving pleasure or performance.
Incorporating styling cues derived from Renault’s proud motorsport legacy, Renault’s design department incorporated sporty styling and robustness in the Mégane’s genetic make-up. Both of these elements are expressed by the new model’s generously proportioned body panels and sweeping curves.
Interior functionality includes one-touch electric front and rear windows with pinch control, electric variable-rate power steering, electric rear child locks with a switch on the driver’s door, front and rear seatbelt warning, front underfoot stowage, height and lumbar adjustment for the driver’s seat, as well as a height and reach-adjustable, leather-trimmed steering wheel.
Renault’s engineers took a completely fresh look at the Mégane’s electric power steering, and the result is a marked improvement in terms of steering precision and ride comfort. Steering response and precision have been significantly enhanced, thanks to the new horned subframe and bi-material bushes that increase the transverse rigidity of the front and rear suspensions.
The Megane retains the Euro NCAP five star safety rating enjoyed by the past twelve Renault releases. The Grand Scénic was the first to achieve five stars under the new, more stringent rating system.
The new cars are priced about one percent above the models they replaced. This model is packed with gadgets, the standard fare including an integrated Carminat TomTom satellite Navigation system as well as dual zone climate control, rain and light sensors and cruise control.
All models are equipped with six airbags, while the coupé has additional pelvis restraint cushions and anti-submarining airbags on both front seats. ABS and EBD is standard across the range. Though it’s a peachy experience up front, rear-seat passengers are unlikely to share the sentiment as it is rather cramped in there, but open the tailgate and you realise where all that space has gone – the 405-litre boot is up there with the best in class when it comes to luggage volume.
Certainly one of Renault’s headline acts in this regard is the latest evolution of the renowned 1.9 dCi turbodiesel engine. The Megane lll 1,9 litre turbodiesel tested, develops 96 kW at 3750 rpm and 300 Nm at 1750 rpm. Top speed is a claimed 210 km/h. Overall handling and braking were excellent and performance of the diesel derivatives was very pleasant. As for my experience behind the wheel, the Mégane is up there with the best diesel hatches in the class. Its 8-valve turbodiesel is pleasantly responsive and offers loads of torque from low down.
Featuring a combination of ventilated 280 mm discs in front, along with 260 mm solid discs at the rear, the braking system is capable of bringing the Mégane to a standstill from 100 km/h in just 37 metres, even after repeated hard braking – thereby making it one of the best-performing vehicles in the segment.
The result is a powerful yet quiet engine that is respectful of the environment, consuming an average of just 5,1 litres/100 km in the mixed cycle, while emitting a low 134 g of CO2/km.