Renault has weighed into the diesel-powered European hatchback market with the value-plus Megane diesel. Generously equipped and nicely styled, the Megane highlights why Renault sales are growing rapidly – good product, sensibly priced has always worked in the automotive industry.
They’re smart bunch at Renault Australia and they’ve backed the Megane (and the rest of the passenger car lineup) with a five year/unlimited kilometer warranty with roadside assistance. Combine that with low-interest Renault Finance and it’s an alluring proposition.
Renault Megane Overview
Megane is to Renault what Golf is to Volkswagen – the company’s massive volume, mainstream hatchback. The latest Megane delivers contemporary good looks, a very impressive interior and slick on-road driving dynamics.
New to the Megane range is a diesel powerplant – available in two grades (entry-level Dynamique priced at $27,490 or the up-scale Privilege, as tested by Car Showroom, stickered at $32,490).
Renault Megane Engine
Renault’s 1.5-litre dCi engine has been around for a while. Maximum power is 81kW at 4000rpm and peak torque of 240Nm is available from 1750rpm.
The Megane diesel debuts in Australia Renault’s six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission which the French giant says delivers reductions in fuel consumption and exhaust C02 emissions in the order of 17 per cent.
Euro 5 compliant, the Renault Megane diesel returns combined cycle fuel consumption of 4.5l/100kms and exhaust C02 emissions as low as 117g/km.
Renault Megane The Interior
Some are still surprised to learn that of all the European manufacturers, Renault’s interior designers are amongst the front-runnersw. The combination of slick efficiency, nice material choices and a touch of French flair gets the attention of those who have not recently checked-out a modern Renault.
It’s all on display again in the latest Megane with a handy dashboard layout, nice instrument graphics (digital speedo) and sporty steering wheel (adjusts for rake and reach).
Our Privilege model scored nice leather seats and the audio system includes a single CD/MP3 system with AUX/USB inputs and Bluetooth compatibility with audio streaming. The Privilege grade also scores a sunroof.
Rear seat accommodation, while not the largest in this league, is on-par with most. Luggage capacity of 350-litres is impressive and the trunk is handily flat.
Renault Megane Exterior & Styling
French style – magnifique monsieur! Pardon our French, but you have to congratulate Renault for blending Parisien looks (without the quirkiness) with a more internationally-compatible appearance.
At the front, Renault Megane has a distinctive, aerodynamic look punctuated by large, modern wraparound headlights and a large, under-bumper air intake. Prominent bonnet scuplturing and stylish fog-lights complete a contemporary look.
Renault Megane’s side profile is dominated by the rising glass-house, sloping roof and modern, curved C-pillar while the rear is accentuated by a clever curved hatch and large jewel-like tail-lights.
Our ‘Privilege’ grade Renault Megane ran nice, six-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels.
Renault Meganne on the Road
The standard Renault Megane rides on basically the same platform as the rip-snorting Megane RS 250 hot hatch so you’d reckon a reasonably high standard of driving dynamics would be a cinch…and you’d be right. Tick the box headed ‘Slick European’ here.
OK, with 81kW/240Nm, the Renault Megane’s 1.5-litre turbo-diesel is outgunned by the rival Ford Focus’ 2.0-litre but it competes very well with similar 1.6-litre engines from Peugeot and Volkswagen. And isn’t the Renault’s 4.5l/100kms a major part of the game here?
That said, our Renault Megane certainly hit the sweet spot over our high-speed mountain roads test loop when we got the sequential six-speed transmission into the game. The typical European suspension firmness was there as was the expected balance and precision.
Around town, like other turbo-diesels tuned for optimum fuel consumption, the Renault Megane was a little hesitant on take-off but quickly kicked into action with a few revs on-board for efficient freeway merging. Parking in our tight CBD car park was a breeze thanks to good all-round visibility and rear parking sensors.
Renault Megane Challenges
The all-round competence and European slickness of the Renault Megane stand-out…so what’s doing with the audio system controls? Maybe with more time behind the wheel you get accustomed to piloting the combination of centre console dials and a control box mounted behind the steering wheel, but after our week with the Megane (and other Renaults with a similar set-up) we were still perplexed.
Renault Megane The Competition
Continuing the French theme, Peugeot 308 is definitely worth a look. 308’s entry diesel is 1.6-litre Access stickered at $29,990 but for a fair fight with the Renault Megane you’re really looking at the Peugeot 308 2.0 Active ($34,990). While not as dynamic as the Renault Megane in the ride and handling department, we’re fans of Peugeot’s current styling and up-market interiors.
Ford’s German Focus is a Car Showroom favourite for its looks, driving dynamics, quality and value. Focus’ 120kW/340Nm diesel delivers more power than the Renault Megane and while prices start at $30,500 for the Trend model, on a specification basis you’ll probably need the $33,690 Sport model to match the Megane’s kit.
Which brings us to the all-conquering Volkswagen Golf. Diesels kick-off at $28,990 (1.6-litre Bluemotion), but to match the Renault Megane’s specifications your realistically heading towards Golf Comfortline ($34,490) – in which case Volkswagen’s 2.0-litre with 103kW/320Nm out-punches the Megane. Golf does look a tad conservative alongside the stylish Megane.
Renault Megane Verdict
We’re fans of the Renault Megane. We like the style, we like the interior (except for that audio), we like the obvious quality and we like the driving dynamics.
And we’re pleased to see the giant French brand now designing globally competitive cars (i.e. not French ‘quirky’) as it surges ahead under the guidance of Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn. In that context, Renault is really kicking some goals in Australia and throughout the world – great new product driving up sales.
And Renault seems to be everywhere – from powering most of the F1 Grand Prix field (including the World Champions, Red Bull Renault) to sponsoring our national beach volleyball competition. A European brand favoured by the hip, youngsters in Paris, Renault is serious about success in Australia.