Automatically assuming the Volkswagen Golf reigns supreme at the top of the European hatchback totem pole is a mistake. We’ve just driven the all-new Renault Megane hatchback and – good as the Golf is - Renault has trumped its German rivals with the new Megane’s value-for-money, performance, nice style, wonderful interior and all-round quality.
Forget the previous Renault Megane - which was somewhat challenged in the appearance department - we’re talking about the good-looking all-new model.
Even the entry-level Renault Megane ($22,990) scores the standard 103kW/195Nm, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine which somewhat humiliates the Golf’s 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre powerplants (until you move up to the 1.4-litre supercharged and turbocharged Golf 118TSI Comfortline model which is stickered at $29,490).
Renault Megane Overview
Priced from $22,990, the all-new Renault Megane looks stylishly elegant and contemporary, boasts a superb interior, offers sharp 2.0-litre performance and is jam-packed with safety - like standard stability control and six airbags.
Like its predecessor, the all-new Renault Megane is sold in two specification grades – Dynamique manual ($22,990), Dynamique CVT automatic ($24,990) and the range-topping Privilege CVT automatic ($29,990). Car Showroom just spent a week putting the Privilege grade Renault Megane through our test procedures and we were impressed…in fact we were very sad to hand this one back to Renault.
Like the previous Megane, the newcomer is very competent on the road and practical, spacious and handsomely appointed inside. Where this Megane succeeds over its predecessor is its styling – the new model is modern and attractive, with just a dash of French flair to distinguish the Megane from rival German and Asian hatchbacks.
Renault Megane Engine
Volkswagen has instigated a high-profile campaign to promote lower capacity, forced induction engines such as the 1.2-litre, 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre engines in its mainstream Golf models. Renault on the other hand has fitted all Megane hatchbacks with a Euro IV-compliant, naturally aspirated 2.0-litre engine.
Renault says maximum power for the new Megane Privilege model as tested is 103kW at 6,000rpm and peak torque of 195Nm is available from 3,750rpm. The combined cycle fuel consumption for the new Megane Privilege model as tested is 7.9l/100kms.
Who’s right the French or the Germans? Tough call that one.
What we can say is the new Renault Megane gallops along effortlessly with the 2.0-litre engine and CVT automatic well matched for slick freeway merging/highway overtaking and relaxed highway cruising.
Renault Megane Interior
We’ve said previously that Renault does some of the world’s best interiors by any measure – design, layout, practicality, material quality, colour palettes, quality and the rest. The latest Renault Megane confirms that point of view.
Let’s start with the instruments where Renault is to be congratulated for its stylish combination of gauges, superb electronics and eye-catching design – good looks, no bling (trust the French!). We loved the cruise control/speed limiter display which turns red in the illuminated arc for the speedo (you really have to see it for yourself).
With rake/reach adjustment for the leather-wrapped steering wheel and height/lumbar adjustment for the front seats the Renault Megane Privilege delivers a top-shelf driving position. In fact, as part of the development of this latest Megane, Renault’s engineers incorporated a 30mm wider brake pedal which is 10mm further offset from the accelerator pedal – all to deliver improved functionality.
On the audio front, Privilege specification Renault Meganes score the Arkamys eight-speaker CD system with MP3/Aux-In and USB inputs). There’s also standard satellite navigation and Streaming Bluetooth.
Privilege models gain leather seats and we must commend Renault for the rear seat layout and design which promotes a feeling of spaciousness. Rear seat passengers also gain their own storage ‘cubby’.
In fact, just like the previous Renault Megane, the latest model abounds with storage locations – including those handy under-floor bins to keep items out of the sun and away from curious eyes.
The rear seat in the Renault Megane split-folds 60:40 and luggage space is amongst the best in the segment at 360-litres.
Renault Megane Exterior & Styling
We admit the previous model wasn’t the prettiest car to emerge from France, but for the latest Renault Megane you can give exterior style a big, green tick. It’s a strong look, characterized by streamlined headlights, a large under-bumper air intake and boldly creased bonnet lines.
With prominent front fenders, a muscular waist and raked roofline, the all-new Renault Megane is contemporary and very European.
Our Privilege model test car ran 17-inch ‘Monitor’ alloy wheels which enhanced the sporty looks which characterize the all-new Renault Megane.
Renault Megane On the Road
Renault Megane rides on the usual independent front/torsion beam rear suspension favoured these days by most European brands. Development for this latest version focused on reducing body roll which Renault says is now three degrees less than the average measure in this segment.
This was noticeable over our high speed mountain roads test loop where the Renault Megane was decisively impressive – clearly amongst the best in this class for balance, turn-in and mid-corner balance.
And of course the abundant torque of the naturally aspirated 2.0-litre powerplant certainly enhanced the driving dynamics.
Back in town, the Renault Megane was equally impressive with nice refinement and good visibility for tricky parking.
Renault Megane Challenges
Our points deduction for the Megane comes from the power steering – a tad too much assistance and too light for enthusiast drivers.
Renault Megane Verdict
In just about every measure the all-new Renault Megane out-golfs the Golf – yes it really is that good.
Renault Megane The Competition
The Volksagen Golf club has the same entry price as the Renault Megane - $22,990 – but you’ll need to spend $29,490 or more to get a Golf model with power and torque comparable to the Megane’s 2.0-litre petrol engine.
Same for the Peugeot 308 which starts at $24,990 with a 1.6-litre petrol engine. Like the Renault Megane, the 308 has a classy French style interior and top-shelf driving dynamics.
Ford’s ageing, German-sourced Focus has the most zip from its 2.0-litre petrol engine (107kW/185Nm), is sharply priced a handy drive.