Renault Megane

Stylish three-door distances itself from family hatchback cousin

If there’s one thing Renault is known for, it’s design flair.

The previous-generation Mégane caused a stir with its unusual rear end, and while there was no room for a coupé in the range, the three-door hatch was distinctive enough for most.

This latest incarnation couldn’t be more different, because it replaces the upright rear windscreen of the outgoing model with a tapered tail end.

The coupé incorporates elements of the five-door family car, but this doesn’t detract from its overall look. Sharp angles, flowing lines and curvy body panels merge with shallow side windows to create a sleek profile. Choosing between it and the VW will be purely a matter of taste, but we feel that the Mégane Coupé is the more visually interesting design.

Inside, the reverse is true, as the Renault makes no attempt to disguise its hatchback origins. If it wasn’t for the long doors and slim side glass, you’d be hard pressed to tell you were in a coupé.

However, cabin quality is good – if not as impressive as the VW’s – and the Mégane is generously equipped.

The leather-bound steering wheel isn’t as tactile as the sculpted rim in the German car, but it’s good to hold. And for those in need of family practicality, the Renault is the only choice, as it provides three separate seatbelts across the rear bench – the VW makes do with two.

A sloping roofline and sharply angled rear windows can make it feel claustrophobic in the back, while the thick C-pillars limit visibility when reversing, but these are common traits in the coupé class.

Fire up the 1.9-litre diesel, and you’re greeted with slightly less noise than in the VW. But the Mégane doesn’t sound as sporty on the road. The 130bhp unit has 8bhp less power than the Scirocco’s 2.0 TDI, so the Renault was slower from 0-60mph – it recorded a time of 9.9 seconds, compared to 9.6 seconds for the VW. However, shorter ratios and more flexible responses meant it had the edge during our in-gear tests.

So it’s a real shame that the six-speeder doesn’t deliver more precise changes. The brakes are also a letdown, while the steering wheel provides too much assistance at low speeds and too little when travelling faster.

The softer suspension does a good job of soaking up surface bumps. And while the Mégane doesn’t ultimately have as much grip as its rival in this test, body roll remains impressively controlled through tighter corners.

Arguably the biggest obstacle facing the Renault is its poor residual value forecast. At £19,585, it’s £800 cheaper to buy than the VW, but our experts predict it will be worth £5,000 less than the Scirocco in three years’ time.

Can the head-turning looks help the Mégane Coupé overcome this, and see it crowned the new king of the coupés?

Details

Chart position: 2
WHY: Stylish lines belie the Mégane Coupé’s price tag, while the flexible diesel powerplant will appeal to your sensible side.

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