New Renault Megane vs hatchback rivals

19 Feb, 2014 10:00am

The Renault Megane has been refreshed to keep pace with its rivals – and we test it against the SEAT Leon and Ford Focus

The French car industry is currently taking a beating, with falling sales, high overheads and a failure to tap into new classes hitting the country’s manufacturers hard.

Renault has suffered particularly badly, but it’s bouncing back. The brand launched an all-new Clio last year, while the Captur crossover and the all-electric Twizy, ZOE and Fluence family demonstrate that it still has the ability to innovate. That innovation has now been focused on the Megane hatch. But rather than go for an all-new model, Renault has updated the family car originally introduced in 2008.

Is it enough to keep pace in a closely fought class? To find out, we’ve lined up the 1.2 TCe turbo petrol against two tough rivals. The SEAT Leon is our current class champion, and comes with similar petrol power, while the Ford Focus gets a punchy 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo. Can the Renault make an impact? Or is the update too little, too late?

Renault Megane review

SEAT Leon review

Ford Focus review

Head-to-head

Technology

Renault Megane vs Ford Focus vs SEAT Leon tech

The Megane and Focus come with sat-nav as standard, while it’s a £745 option on the Leon. However, the SEAT’s system is the easiest to use, with an intuitive touchscreen and buttons. The Renault’s joystick is okay, but the controller feels spongy. The Ford’s system is confusing, as it’s easy to mistakenly use the rotary volume control instead of the direction buttons when you’re on the move.

Practicality

According to the manufacturer figures, the Megane has the biggest boot here. There’s not much between it and the Leon, although both cars are more spacious than the Focus. The Renault loses out to its rivals on rear space – it’s cramped and has short door armrests.

Renault Megane vs Ford Focus vs SEAT Leon seats

Company costs

A £16,790 price tag gives the Leon the edge on company car tax, with lower-rate taxpayers facing a bill of £474, compared to £526 for the Focus and £556 for the Megane. The Renault has a lower price than the Ford, but is a tax bracket higher.

Verdict

1st place: SEAT Leon

SEAT Leon static

A great combination of comfort, handling and quality puts the Leon at the top of the pile. The 1.2 TSI is our favourite engine, too, as it never feels underpowered and is reasonably economical. Top value for money is a bonus.

2nd place: Ford Focus

Ford Focus static

While the Focus matches the SEAT for build quality, performance and economy, there are too many negatives for it to take victory. The engine note won’t be to all tastes, while the small boot also pegs it back.

3rd place: Renault Megane

Renault Megane static

Unfortunately, it’s too little, too late for the Megane. This update freshens the looks, and the 1.2 TCe offers reasonable running costs, but the Renault can’t compete in terms of quality, refinement or comfort. It’s expensive, too.

Figures

SEAT Leon 1.2 TSI SE Ford Focus 1.0T EcoBoost (125) Zetec Nav Renault Mégane TCe 115 D’mique TomTom
On-the-road price/total as tested £16,970/£19,415 £18,845/£18,845 £18,570/£19,840
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000) £7,552/44.5% £7,519/39.9% £6,357/34.2%
Depreciation £9,418 £11,326 £12,213
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £474/£947 £526/£1,052 £556/£1,111
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £1,723/£2,872 £1,628/£2,713 £1,624/£2,707
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 13/T/C/C/£30 15/T/C/C/£30 17/T/C/C/£30
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service £169/£199/£139 £570 (3yrs) £299 (4yrs)
Length/wheelbase 4,263/2,636mm 4,358/2,648mm 4,302/2,640mm
Height/width 1,459/1,816mm 1,484/1,858mm 1,471/1,808mm
Engine 4cyl in-line/1,197cc 3cyl in-line/999cc 4cyl in-line/1,198cc
Peak power 104/4,500 bhp/rpm 123/6,000 bhp/rpm 114/4,500 bhp/rpm
Peak torque 175/1,400 Nm/rpm 170/1,400 Nm/rpm 190/2,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission 6-spd man/fwd 6-spd man/fwd 6-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 50 litres/£95 55 litres/space saver 60 litres/£95
Boot capacity 380/1,210 litres 316/1,101 litres 405/1,162 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 1,198/502/1,300kg 1,279/620/1,200kg 1,205/425/1,300kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient 10.2 metres/N/A 11.0 metres/N/A 11.0 metres/0.33Cd
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (60,000)/2yrs 3yrs (60,000)/1yr 4yrs (100k)/4yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers 10k miles (1yr)/128 12.5k (1yr)/781 18k miles (1yr)/153
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 27th/31st 23rd/29th 21st/9th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./points 94/92/70/5 92/82/72/5 5/4/2/N/A (2008)
0-60/30-70mph 10.1/9.7 secs 10.3/10.1 secs 9.8/10.3 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 4.9/6.3 secs 5.2/7.0 secs 5.0/7.1 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th 9.9/13.1 secs 9.7/12.4 secs 11.0/15.4 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 119mph/2,400rpm 120mph/2,400rpm 115mph/2,400rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 53.7/39.0/11.0m 53.6/38.9/10.1m 53.3/38.7/11.2m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph 63/41/59/64dB 65/39/59/66dB 43.5/9.6/574 miles
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 41.0/9.0/451 miles 43.4/9.5/525 miles 70/45/61/66dB
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 47.9/65.7/57.6mpg 44.8/67.3/56.5mpg 44.1/61.4/53.3mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 10.5/14.5/12.7mpl 12.8/14.9/12.5mpl 11.7/13.5/9.7mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 159/114g/km/14% 150/114g/km/14% 150/119g/km/15%
Airbags/Isofix/parking sensors Seven/yes/£265 Six/yes/£225/no Six/yes/£275
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise control £1,250/yes/yes No/yes/£250 No/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seats £350/£1,370/£350 No/no/no Yes/£1,250/no
Metallic paint/auto lights/keyless go £495/£150/no £525/no/no £495/yes/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth £745/yes/£175/yes Yes/yes/yes/yes Yes/yes/£240/yes

Disqus - noscript

Out of all the cars on the golf platform I think the Leon is the ugliests both on the inside and exterior. Cars become bigger with each generation. This size either not practical enough so get MPV SUV or Fiesta or Polo big enough in which case you would just buy Fiesta. Fiesta better than Foucus.

table of comparison data not correct (mixed up sound levels and range for example). The article fails to mention service costs and warranty, acceleration or safety. All in all a poor article

Hi sean

This page is the intro and verdict page for the test. The rest of the information you need is in the three links for the cars that are after the introduction.

Thanks for flagging the data though, it's been changed now.

Dean Gibson
Deputy road test editor

AEX 1334
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