Renault Megane review
Despite a recent facelift, the Renault Megane is now starting to feel somewhat outclassed by the best family hatchbacks
In addition to the updates, Renault has slimmed the Megane range down. The line-up now includes just three mainstream trim levels with the Expression kicking things off. The top of the range model is the sporty GT that, like the mid-range Dynamique model, gets Tom Tom sat-nav as standard. In addition to the standard hatchback, there is also a performance orientated Megane Renaultsport hot hatch, a Megane Sport Tourer estate and a Megane C-C convertible.
Expression cars get alloy wheels, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, while Dynamique TomTom cars add sat-nav and automatic lights and wipers. Top spec GT Line cars get a sportier look and dual-zone climate control as standard.
The standard Megane hatch reviewed here has a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, with the higher-powered dCi diesels providing a decent compromise between performance and economy.
This latest Megane was unveiled by Renault at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show, and went on sale in January 2014. Like the latest Clio, the Megane gets the latest Renault 'family' look that features the 'bow-tie' grille and a more aggressive face than its predecessor. Renault has also tweaked the Megane's trim and equipment levels to try and bring it closer to the family hatchback class leaders.
Our choice: Megane Dynamique TomTom dCi 110 ECO 5dr
While Renault revised the Megane's front end and tidied up the amount of trim levels in the range, there's not really much that separates it from the old model. This is a shame, considering it's a popular choice amongst UK buyers.
The facelifted Megane's nose takes inspiration from the Clio launched last year, so it features a big Renault badge, a bow-tie grille and large headlights. Considering that the Megane was originally designed with a smooth front end, Renault has pulled the new front end off well. The large opening under the bumper completes the stylish look.
However, the frontal tweaks are really where the exterior changes stop. It benefits from new alloy wheel designs, but it keeps the same side profile and rounded rear as the old car. The tail-lights are carried over too.
As with the exterior, it’s clear that Renault has gone for evolution rather than revolution with the Megane's interior. The dash layout remains much the same as it was before, albeit with a new flash of trim across the dash and a larger sat-nav screen.
The mix of digital and analogue dials is the same as before, as are the audio and climate controls. Sadly, this means it can't match say, a Volkswagen Golf or SEAT Leon for quality, as the hard plastics and flimsy switchgear of the previous-generation Megane remain.
Renault's Renaultsport Clio and Megane RS models have cemented the French manufacturer's reputation for building great handling hatchbacks. Thankfully, some of that DNA has filtered through to this standard Megane hatch.
Behind the wheel the Megane benefits from a sharp turn-in and a light rear end. The lively handling gives you the confidence to attack twisty roads. A minor criticism would be that the steering at times feels a little disengaged.
The Renault relies heavily on its electronic stability control to keep things in check, and it never feels as stable as some of its rivals. At cruising speed, the Megane is quite unsettled and around town it feels quite crashy, especially with the larger alloy wheels.
Considering this is the third generation of the popular Megane, it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect that Renault would have ironed out most reliability issues.
However, the Megane ranked only 92nd out of 150 cars in our 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, meaning it was thoroughly battered by the likes of the Golf. Renault as a manufacturer finished 15th.
The Megane has a five-star Euro NCAP score, but it was tested back in 2008. Its newer rivals have earned five stars under tougher test conditions. Because it’s based on older technology, the hatch doesn’t provide tech such as city safety or lane keeping aids. Tyre pressure monitors (standard on the SEAT Leon) aren’t offered at all.
Boot space is a trump card for the Renault Megane, and it's possible to fold the rear seats all the way forward. This means they're almost completely flat and the boot space extends from 405 litres to 1,129 litres. The boot's square shape also makes it very usable.
Despite its spacious boot, rear passenger space in the Megane is nothing to shout about, and the rear bench isn't particularly comfortable - it feels more like you're perching rather than sitting on it.
If you look closely, storage in the Megane is nothing special, either. There is only an open bin and a 12V socket for rear occupants, while front passengers are faced with a narrow centre console that’s taken up by the multimedia controller and a single cup-holder.
However, it's very easy to achieve a comfortable driving position in the Renault Megane, thanks to the adjustable driver’s seat and reach and rake adjustment of the steering wheel. What’s more, the driver’s position feels nice and sporty.
The 110bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine in the Renault Megane range needs to be worked hard to get the best out of it, and it only achieves 40.9mpg with 159g/km CO2 emissions.
1.2-litre petrol and 1.6-litre diesel engines are available with Renault's fuel saving ENERGY tech and a stop-start system. The petrol variant with 115bhp emits 119g/km of CO2 and returns 53.3mpg, while diesel buyers won't have to pay road tax on their engine thanks to an impressive 80.7mpg and 90g/km of CO2.
A 130bhp version of the 1.6-litre diesel is also available. What's more, it returns 70.6mpg with CO2 emissions of 104g/km.
Before buying, it's worth considering that the Megane loses its value quickly, so steep depreciation means the Megane will be worth less than the cheaper SEAT Leon after three years.