Renault Megane

Coupé is a real looker, and also one of the class’s cleanest cars

French giant Renault is famed for its design flair, and its latest range doesn’t disappoint. The current line-up has its share of hits and misses, but the Megane Coupé is a surefire success. Mixing the stylish nose of the five-door model with a rakish rear end, the three-door hatch hold bags of visual appeal. 

The daring design makes the revised Kia look slightly bland, and its svelte shape is genuinely eye-catching. In Dynamique TomTom trim, there isn’t much in the way of sporty detailing, though, and its small alloys look unimpressive next to the larger rims fitted to the Pro_cee’d. 

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Renault Megane

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The swooping curves of the body continue inside, with a sweeping dashboard design and splashes of silver trim. Sat-nav comes as standard, and the excellent TomTom unit works superbly. The screen is conveniently sited high on the dash, but we prefer the neatly integrated unit in the Kia – especially as the Renault’s controller, located between the front seats, is fiddly to operate.

The stereo isn’t exactly intuitive, either, with small buttons and confusing controls. It only highlights how simple the touchscreen system in the Pro_cee’d is to get on with. Elsewhere, the manual air-con is much more user-friendly, and the rest of the car’s switchgear has a more grown-up and refined feel. 

Quirky touches include the digital speedometer, while the abundance of soft-touch plastics provides the Mégane with a higher-quality air than the Kia. Rear passengers won’t necessarily agree, because the back seats feel claustrophobic when compared to those in the Korean model. The low roofline, chunky C-pillars and tiny side windows make the rear of the Renault a gloomy place in which to spend time. 

Still, legroom is decent, and there’s space for three adults to sit across the rear bench. Lift the tailgate, and the boot provides marginally more space, although it’s held back by a smaller and higher opening.

The Mégane’s 109bhp 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine has a 17bhp power deficit, which was apparent during our performance tests at the track. But on the road, the two cars feel evenly matched. 

Sharper throttle responses ensure the Renault is rarely left behind, although taller gearing does blunt acceleration at higher speeds. The drag from 50-70mph in sixth took 7.3 seconds longer than in the Kia, at 20 seconds exactly. But the Mégane redeems itself when you push it through some challenging corners. 

It’s more agile than its rival, turning into bends with greater enthusiasm, and its line can be subtly adjusted using the throttle. Plus, although it could provide greater feedback through the steering, it’s a more engaging prospect, with much more grip and composure. 

On top of all that, it really impresses at the pumps. The longer gearing comes into its own, helping the car return a superb 43.9mpg during its time on test. That’s 9.4mpg more than the Kia over the same route. CO2 emissions are also excellent – it puts out 13g/km less than its rival, at 106g/km. Such a strong showing sets up photo finish in the race for diesel hatch honours.

Details

Chart position: 1WHY: Megane is one of the most stylish cars in this sector, and one of the greenest. Talented chassis and long kit list sweeten the deal.

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