First Drive: Renault Megane

By / 2 years ago / Road Tests / No Comments

SECTOR Lower Medium PRICE From €15,680 approx. FUEL 3.7–6.0l/100km CO2 96–134g/km

Revolutions are comparatively rare in the C-segment. There was the 1998 Ford Focus, which redefined design as well as ride and handling in the segment and that's about it for the recent past. You can guarantee that any new model will be better than its predecessor, but most manufacturers play safe, not pushing design parameters too far, or delivering step changes in any particular area for fear of frightening core customers away.

So the arrival of a new Renault Mégane, the fourth model to appear in a run of 20 years, was not guaranteed to set pulses racing. There would be predictable engines – 1.5dCi and 1.6dCi diesel, with 1.2TCe turbo petrol engines at the core of the fleet friendly models – no more than we have already seen in the Kadjar and elsewhere in the Renault Nissan Alliance ranges. There’s a new sporty 205hp GT model, while there will also be a 48V micro-hybrid based on the 1.5 dCi 110 engine – a first in the sector, as well as a 165hp twin turbo 1.6-litre diesel, both due to make an appearance over the next few months.

In appearance, Renault seems to have followed the route set by the Kadjar last year and new Scenic, which was unveiled at the Geneva Show earlier this year, with similar, distinctive front end treatment. Otherwise the Mégane comes with a fairly familiar five-door format. A fresh, stylish face for a car that is longer and lower than its predecessor. The wheelbase is longer and the track wider front and rear. Renault claims it now has the widest track in its class.

Mégane models will be permanently illuminated front and rear, not just with front daytime running lights; rear LED lamps will also be constantly lit. Higher spec models get LED headlights. Note too that the body shell is stiffer, window glass thicker and door seals more substantial. The latest Mégane is built using the Renault Nissan Alliance’s CMF architecture, a similar concept to the VW Group MQB architecture where common parts positioning provides a fair degree of flexibility and economies of scale. Espace, Kadjar, and Talisman also use the CMF architecture.

It's inside where more change becomes apparent. Mégane will be offered with Renault's R-Link 2 connectivity system, coupled with either a 7-inch landscape or 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen. According to Renault, this and its capabilities is a product of the CMF architecture. Renault's Multisense system allows drivers to choose different driving modes, still relatively unusual for C-segment models and there is a wide degree of customisation permitted as well as a tablet-style format for the touchscreens designed to be familiar to tablet and smartphone users. It doesn't take long to learn how the different screens work.

There is also a choice of instrument packs: analogue with lower specification models and digital for higher specification models. The digital pack appearance changes according to the drive mode selected, both in colour and layout, so you can choose what you like best.

Renault makes much of the seating – similar to that from the Talisman, providing more comfort particularly for front seat occupants. It certainly adds comfort for those spending a long time behind the wheel.

We focussed our driving on the dCi 110 diesel models in UK Dynamique Sport Nav spec and it doesn't take long to appreciate that Renault has made some step changes with the new Mégane. The low noise levels from the engine would be impressive enough for a diesel that has been around for a while, but that is accompanied by very little wind or road noise. By any standards, it must be one of the quietest diesels in its class. It is very impressive. Mégane has a great deal to offer fleets.

Verdict:

The new Mégane gives Renault a car that can challenge the market leaders. Both design and execution make this a must for fleet choice lists.

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