In this day and age, is there any point getting excited about 0-60mph times and top speeds? With strict limits and ever-increasing congestion putting a stop to high-performance fun, some motorists now get their kicks by boasting about other statistics. Go for Renault's Megane 1.5 dCi 100 and it's not miles per hour you'll be telling your friends about, it's miles per gallon.
Based on the current 82bhp 1.5-litre diesel engine which is still the entry- level oil-burner in the Megane range, the new powerplant has had its output boosted to 100bhp. Torque has also been increased by 15Nm to 200Nm, but does the extra urgency make this small capacity diesel more appealing than its larger 1.9-litre dCi sibling?
Well, the new engine is quiet and refined at idle, but push the Megane hard and a coarse diesel rattle soon penetrates the cabin. With the extra 18bhp, the 0-60mph sprint takes 12.8 seconds, which is 1.5 seconds quicker than the lower powered 1.5. It's no hot hatch, but a useful slug of torque in every gear makes this M�gane feel quicker than the figures suggest. Yet sipping fuel is what this car is really about. Renault quotes a combined fuel consumption of 62.8mpg - easily bettering the Megane's main competitors, and giving a huge range of 816.4 miles.
While we didn't match Renault's claims, our varied route revealed some interesting information. Even in heavy London traffic, the M�gane returned 45mpg, while moving into 40mph-50mph zones saw that rise to 65mpg. However, once the speed increased to 70mph, the economy dropped away to a final average of 52.6mpg. Having logged one tank's worth of data, we brimmed it once again and the maximum range displayed was 689 miles - shy of Renault's bold claims but impressive nonetheless.
Carbon dioxide emissions of 119g/km - only 1g/km more than Smart's tiny ForTwo - will also be a big selling point, but surprisingly, the 1.5-litre dCi powerplant is not compliant with Euro IV emissions regulations. That means company car buyers who opted for this Megane would still have to pay an extra three per cent in tax because it's judged a more polluting vehicle. That's a shame, because in every other respect, this is one of the most frugal small family hatchbacks on the market.