Renault Megane

Family hatch falls short of claimed MPG, but huge range impresses

Family buyers can be forgiven for overlooking the 1.5 dCi-powered Mégane for fear of being left behind at the lights – but they will be missing out.

Such a small capacity sounds a bit weedy for a compact hatch, but the 105bhp Renault still sprinted from 0-60mph in 11.5 seconds at the test track.

Of course, straight-line speed isn’t the name of the game here, but the M´égane doesn’t feel underpowered, and was only beaten by the Honda Insight for pace. And that makes its official fuel economy of 62.8mpg even more impressive.

When it comes to long-haul comfort, the Renault had another ace up its sleeve, as its 2,640mm wheelbase is comfortably the longest of the cars on test. Combined with its low 1,215kg kerbweight – only the 107 and i20 were lighter – this helps the Mégane provide decent ride comfort to go with its economy. The Renault was also the only car to have a tall sixth gear, which helped to make it the quietest of our quintet at motorway cruising speeds, when its engine was pulling only 2,250rpm at 70mph.

The smart exterior of the Mégane is complemented by an equally appealing cabin. It features lots of soft-touch plastics and smart looking switchgear, but falls short in a couple of crucial areas. Firstly, build quality doesn’t have the rock-solid feel of the class leaders, and the controls are complicated – especially for the stereo. Even simple jobs such as changing the waveband on the radio require too much effort.

The Renault’s distinctive instrument cluster has always attracted criticism from our team. The digital speedo is at odds with the rest of the interior and looks cheap, but it did make it easy to see if we were keeping to a constant 70mph on the drive north.

Better still, Dynamique trim includes a combined speed limiter and cruise control system as standard. Although motorway comfort is good, the optional 17-inch alloys fitted to our test car meant the Renault was less forgiving at lower speeds in town.

At the final fill up, it was clear from the amount of fuel we put into the Mégane’s 60-litre tank that it wasn’t going to trouble the 107 or i20 at the pumps. Even so, it averaged an impressive 58.8mpg on the trip, 4mpg short of its 62.8mpg official combined figure. Low emissions of 120g/km are also excellent considering that the Renault does without efficiency-boosting measures such as stop-start technology.

Given its size compared to rivals here, the Renault put in an impressive performance on our test. And with a mammoth range of 776 miles, it could have turned around and comfortably made it all the way back to London without having to stop for fuel.

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