A lot has happened in the motoring world since we described the Renault Megane as a “head turner” on its debut at the Paris Motor Show in 2008. However, not a great deal has happened to the Megane since then – which is why Renault has grafted its new family face on to the Volkswagen Golf rival.
We've driven the top-spec Renault Megane GT Line TomTom Energy dCi 130, which includes climate control, keyless go and a built-in TomTom sat-nav. The latter is easy to use, but feels cheap compared to the integrated systems other makers offer. It looks a bit dated, too, with low-res graphics shown on a pretty small screen.
• Full Renault Megane review
On the road, the Megane remains good to drive. There’s not much steering feel, but the wheel provides a positive and direct response. There’s decent grip and the car handles well, although the sports suspension fitted to our model is rather firm.
Our test car also features the top-spec 1.6-litre diesel, which is now branded Energy, in line with next season’s turbocharged Renault F1 engine.
Performance is still strong, thanks to a hefty turbo, which kicks in aggressively at around 1,300rpm, and helps to take the car from 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds. It’s quite quiet for a diesel engine, too, although there’s a fair bit of road noise that works its way up through the suspension and body.
The new Renault look doesn’t sit as comfortably on the Megane as it does on the new Clio and Captur. The new headlights are a bit fussy, although this GT Line version compensates with a sharper front bumper design, with contrasting grey plastic around the air intakes and neat LED daytime running lights.
Inside, the dashboard retains a clean, simple look and everything is easy to use – although we wish a few of the buttons were a bit bigger. The driving position is decent, with plenty of scope for adjustment and some really comfortable seats.
Newer rivals outclass the Megane, and Renault knows it. Adding kit helps, but an extra sweetener is the fact that this model costs £1,200 less than before. Yet while this makes the Megane considerably cheaper than a Golf GT, the price is still the same as the similarly equipped Ford Focus Zetec S 2.0 TDCi – and while the Focus isn’t as frugal, it’s more practical, has a more powerful engine and is better to drive.