Renault Megane Coupe
The three-door Renault Megane Coupe is good to drive and neatly styled
The third generation Megane was launched in 2008. It's not quite as instantly recognisable to look at as its predecessors (it's lost the famous rump) the flowing lines and sharply styled headlamps combine to create a car that is both distinctive and individual. A thorough facelift in 2012 added modern touches like LED running lights and gloss black trim inserts, while the sporty GT Line versions are even more eye-catching, thanks to anthracite alloy wheels. However, there are areas to watch out for. Inside, the plain cabin finish isn't up to the standards offered by rivals such as the Hyundai Veloster but are the equal of the cheap finishes offered in the Toyota GT-86. Still the facelift added some sporty touches to the interior and updated the stereo controls, while equipment levels have also gone up across the board.
On the whole, the Renault Megane is a capable driver's car. It's steering is light but accurate, and the suspension is comfortable. It's not quite as rewarding to drive as the Subaru BRZ, and it's not as comfortable and refined as a VW Scirocco, but it is a decent long-distance cruiser, largely thanks to its quiet cabin and smooth, powerful diesel engines. The range topping 2.0-litre turbocharged TCe 180 GT is fun to drive, but our pick would be the 1.6 dCi 130 diesel, which combines plenty of mid-range grunt and excellent fuel economy.
Renault's performance in safety tests is very impressive. The firm's focus on success in the Euro NCAP crash test has seen it set class standards for safety over a number of years, and the latest car is no exception. All models come with front, side and curtain airbags as standard, plus all-important electronic stability control. Reports suggest reliability is improving, too. Previous generation cars suffered with lots of electrical gremlins, but a focus on build quality has helped to turn that around, and the latest cars can match the class standards.
The back seats are cramped and the boot is awkwardly shaped, with a high and narrow loading lip which makes loading larger items tricky. Cabin cubbies are limited and although the seats split and fold, the operation is fiddly. In short, the Renault comes up a little short against its key competition. It's not that what it offers is bad, it's merely no better than the majority of three door coupes. At least the boot is a generous size, and space up front is certainly reasonable. If you're looking for more carrying capacity, then the five-door Megane is probably a better bet.
All Renault Meganes offer good fuel economy, thanks to the company's decision to downsize its engine range. There is a 1.6 litre petrol engine, offering 109bhp, and 40.9mpg. Renault also offers a turbocharged 1.2 litre petrol, with 114bhp and 53.3mpg and emissions of just 119g/km. The range is topped by a 2.0-litre diesel engine with 163bhp and 50.4mpg. The diesel line-up also includes a 80.7mpg 109bhp 1.5-litre unit, as well as a 1.6 with 128bhp. Renault's excellent 4+ aftersales package includes servicing, warranty, road side assistance and finacing making the Megane one of the cheapest coupes to run on the market.