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Renault Mégane Coupé

Stylish three-door variant returns to its sporty roots

It looks as if Renault is finally on a roll. With the recent success of the Laguna Coupé (Issue 1,046) and new Mégane family hatch (Issue 1,044), the firm is once again serving up stylish and capable cars. Now it’s the turn of the Coupé version of the Mégane to continue the trend.

The newcomer clearly takes its design cues from the five-door model.At the front, it has the same faired-in nose and swept-back headlamps, although a distinctive brushed aluminium finish for the radiator grille surround helps distinguish it from the family model. And from the base of the windscreen back, the Coupé gets bespoke sheet metal, which includes a steeply rising waistline and high-set tail. There’s no denying the overall result is eye-catching.

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Climb aboard, and it’s immediately obvious the designers have been less adventurous. The dashboard is lifted from the hatchback complete with the same switchgear and dials, including the gimmicky digital speedo. Drivers also suffer from poor over-the-shoulder visibility as a result of the thick C-pillars.

Materials are of a good quality, though, and there’s plenty of standard kit on this Dynamique-spec model. Cruise control, keyless entry and a Bluetooth phone connection are all standard. The Mégane also has its rivals beaten for space. It’s the only one of our trio which can carry three on the rear bench. Lifting the heavily raked tailgate reveals a wide opening and a useful 337 litres of carrying capacity, which extends to 991 litres with the 30:70 split back seats folded flat. Practicality is all very well, but it’s on the move that a coupé has to impress, with strong performance and sharp driving dynamics topping any buyer’s wishlist.

At a wet test track, the Mégane’s front wheels struggled to put the smooth 2.0-litre turbocharged engine’s 300Nm of torque down on the tarmac. As a result, the 0-60mph sprint took a disappointing 8.6 seconds. However, the unit’s mid-range muscle provides the Mégane with blistering in-gear acceleration: it needed only 8.9 seconds to sprint from 50-70mph in sixth, which was a full three seconds faster than the Scirocco.

Head out on the road, and the Renault signals its sporting intentions with a ride that’s much firmer than either the VW’s or Volvo’s. The upshot of this is good body control in corners, where the Coupé also displays fine balance and strong grip. Sadly, the over-assisted steering and fragile feel of the gearbox conspire to reduce driving pleasure.

Despite this, the Mégane Coupé has a lot to offer. Head-turning looks, hot hatch pace and a competitive price are sure to tempt potential buyers into Renault showrooms.

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Chart position: 2WHY: With rakish looks and strong pace, the Mégane is a real compact coupé contender.

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