Renault Megane Review and First Drive

by under Review on 24 Jul 2014 04:38:00 AM24 Jul 2014
Price Range
$32,990 - $74,990
Fuel Consumption
6L - 8.3L/100km

Looks good on-road; great value; nice drive; excellent build quality


ase model could do with up-scaling inside; reversing camera should be standard across the range

As Megane is Renault’s best-selling global nameplate, the French giant was never going to short-change a mid-life update. So the new range of Renault Megane hatchbacks and wagons arrives in Australia with new looks, a new turbocharged petrol engine/transmission combination and very sharply priced from $20,990.

And backed by a five-year/unlimited kilometers warranty with roadside assistance (Renault was the first European brand to back its products for five years and from July it also includes GT220 variants).
And with three-years capped-price servicing, Renault Insurance and Renault Financial services.
And with the entry-level Authentic model diesel wearing the moniker of Australia’s lowest-priced diesel hatchback ($25,990).
No wonder Renault Australia boss Justin Hocevar is brimming with confidence. With sales up by 53 per-cent in the first half of this year, in a market that’s mostly down, Renault is powering - lead not only by Megane but also the new Clio compact hatchback and the Koleos compact SUV.
Renault’s Kangoo, Trafic and Master are also doing brisk business in the commercial vehicle market (Renault has been Europe’s LCV market leader for 16 consecutive years).

Renault Megane Overview

Ringing-in the changes is a new look front-end, a new TCe 130 petrol engine which debuts the dual-clutch six-speed automatic transmission and introduction of the Renault R-Link multimedia system and the Visio System with lane departure warning. For sports enthusiasts, the good news is the racy GT220 Renault Megane hatchback and sport wagon have become permanent additions to the lineup (previously a limited edition). The Megane is still sourced from the Renault plant in Spain.

Renault has used introduction of the updated Megane range to re-jig the model lineup. Hatchback models (petrol or diesel) are now in entry-level ‘Authentique’, mid-grade ‘GT-Line’ or range-topping ‘GT-Line Premium Pack’. In the European way, all are comprehensively-equipped.
Renault Megane wagon kicks-off with the ‘Dynamique’ grade and then follows the hatchback to ‘GT-Line’ and ‘GT-Line Premium Pack’. 
The outstanding GT220 hatchback and sport wagon sit atop the Renault Megane range, powered by the handy 172kW/340Nm turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine and starting from $35,490. Dollar-for-dollar the Renault Megane GT220 sport wagon stakes a serious claim to being the best high-performance European small wagon.
GT-Line models get the sports chassis, GT-Line interior and exterior enhancements (including 17-inch alloy wheels) and R-Link satellite navigation.
GT-Line Premium Pack goes further with grey highlight leather seats (with heated fronts and grey seatbelts), panoramic glass roof, rear-view camera and Visio System (Lane Departure Warning) and auto high-beam lights,
The new lineup is:
Authentique Tce 130 manual$20,990
Authentique TCe 130 automatic$23,490
Authentique dCi 110 automatic$25,990
GT-Line TCe 130 automatic$26,990
GT-Line dCi 110 automatic$29,490
GT-Line Premium Pack TCe 130 automatic$30.990
GT-Line Premium Pack dCi 110 automatic$33,490
Dynamique TCe 130 automatic$26,990
GT-Line TCe 130 automatic$28,490
Dynamique dCi 110 automatic$29,490
GT-Line dCi 100 automatic$31,490
GT-Line Premium pack TCe 130 automatic$32,490
GT-Line Premium Pack dCi 110 automatic$35,490
GT220 Hatchback and Sport Wagon
GT220 Hatchback$35,490
GT220 Sport Wagon$36,990
GT220 Hatchback Premium Pack$39,490
GT220 Sport Wagon Premium Pack$40,990

Renault Megane Engine

Mechanical changes are highlighted by the TCe 130 petrol engine combining with the excellent six-speed dual-clutch automatic engine sourced from Getrag. A six-speed manual is available only with entry-level Renault Megane ‘Authentique’ grade hatchbacks.

So the confusingly named TCe 130 (130 horsepower in non-metric countries) petrol engine is a turbocharged, four-cylinder  1.2-litre unit which delivers 97kW of power at 5500rpm and peak torque of 205Nm at 2000rpm. 

Diesel power comes from Renault’s terrific 1.5-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel with 81kW of power at 4000rpm and peak torque of 140Nm from 1750rpm. Perhaps surprisingly to those who drive cars in Europe, the diesel is exclusively equipped with six-speed automatic transmission (no manual). 

Renault Megane The Interior

A lot to like inside the Renault Megane which shows-off its contemporary French design wherever you look. No changes as part of this upgrade.


Renault Megane Exterior & Styling

Small but significant new looks for the Renault Megane as head stylist Laurens van den Acker continues to weave his magic through the French number one’s model range.

The focus was on the front-end with the updated Megane now adopting the latest Renault family look. First seen on the all-new Clio, this means a new ‘brand identity’ with the famous Renault logo getting a ‘3D’ look with black background. 

Renault Megane On The Road

Winter in the Tweed Valley isn’t hard to take and after leaving serious July chills in Melbourne, the locals were mostly wearing shirts when we departed Kingscliffe in our first Renault Megane and steered  towards the excellent Gold Coast hinterland roads. During the full day we got to sample a variety of updated Megane models.
All things considered (driving dynamics, equipment level and value-for-money),  we’re finding it hard to overlook the first Megane we drove – the entry-level ‘Authentique’ grade, six-speed manual. That 1.2-litre packs a punch and the chassis is as good as the rest of the non-GT-Line models.
And it’s the chassis which highlights all Renault Megane models. Renault has nailed the balance between ride comfort and sportiness better than most and there were plenty of mid-corner bumps in the drive route to put that assertion under the microscope.

Over those Gold Coast curves all Renault Meganes displayed impressively crisp turn-in and stability and handled multiple changes of direction with aplomb. And while ride comfort was equally impressive there’s no way you’d call the Megane ‘soft’.
We liked the new 1.2-litre petrol engine and Renault’s 1.5- turbo-diesel remains one of the best for performance and refinement. 
GT Line model Renault Meganes aren’t just ‘badge engineering – Renault Sport injects them with a stiffer bodyshell, lower ride height and firmer springs/dampers and 17-inch wheels. So they’re impressively sporty.
We drove GT Line versions in both manual and automatic and while the auto doesn’t provide steering wheel paddleshifters, manual sequential cog-swapping with the gear-lever was fast and precise. 

Renault Megane Issues

We’re only deducting points from the updated Renault Megane for some of the interior trim plastics in the entry-level ‘Authentic’ grade – at odds with the rest of the interior because they’re a bit too downscale.

Renault Megane Verdict

Despite the immense competition in the small car segment, both Renault Megane hatchback and wagon are firmly entrenched as Favourites. For starters, Renault’s massive Formula One racing involvement (lead by Aussie racer Daniel Ricciardo) speaks as much about the French brand’s image and values as does the excellent production quality evident in the updated Megane range.
And we applaud Renault Australia’s “leave-no-stone-unturned” efforts to support its products with the likes of the five-year/unlimited kms warranty (the first European brand to confidently back its products with that), inexpensive capped-price servicing and 12-month service intervals. By the way, Renault can provide this support because the costs of its warranty claims have tumbled for more than a decade…and that obsession with build quality comes right from the top with the company’s global ‘superstar’ CEO Carlos Ghosn (who also runs Nissan of course).
And here’s some more myths busted by the Renault Megane: service costs for the first three years are cheaper than Mazda3, Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus; the price of the 40 most commonly purchased replacement parts are cheaper than Hyundai i30, Toyota Corolla, Golf and Mazda3; thanks to sister company Nissan’s Parts Distribution System, Renault is currently providing a 96 per-cent parts fulfillment rate (parts delivered on-time) which is amongst the industry’s best.  Are parts sourcing and service costs deterrents to buying a Renault…well no, actually.
What we’re saying is the updated Renault Megane is a quality small car which looks great and drives as you’d expect a European small car to drive. If you’re shopping in this segment, you’re a mug if you don’t consider the Renault Megane.

Renault Megane The Competition

Small hatchbacks are a massive segment. In fact they account for 23 per-cent of total new cars sales in Australia so the Renault Megane squares-off against the likes of:
Ford Focus (a Favourite) shows-off its German pedigree in looks and driving dynamics and is sharply priced from $20,290. Focus runs 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre petrol engines or a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel and while there is now wagon model, there is a sedan version for the ‘anti-hatchback’ people.
Hyundai i30 starts at $20,990, offers 1.8-litre petrol and 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engines and sells in huge numbers. Chassis dynamics aren’t quite to Renault standards and interior trim materials in upscale models aren’t as high-level as the Megane.

And if you want to consider those names who, like Renault Megane, offer hatchbacks and wagons, the list is Hyundai i30, Holden Cruze, Peugeot 308 and Volkswagen Golf.

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