Renault Megane review
A move upmarket has turned the practical and economical Megane into a desirable front-running hatchback
The Renault Megane is a tenfold improvement on the outgoing model. It's comfortable, practical and well equipped, and it's a family hatch that takes some beating. The refined and frugal 1.5 dCi diesel is well suited to the car, while top-spec models come loaded with standard kit.
Not only is the Megane more stylish and desirable than ever, it’s also better built, nicer to drive and even more efficient than before. It’s not the sharpest car in its class to drive, but its mix of abilities should ensure it finds a place on your shortlist if you’re in the market for a classy, spacious and cheap-to-run family car.
The Renault Megane is a staple of the compact hatchback class and has been on sale since 1995. The current car is the Megane Mk4, and it was launched in 2016 after the Mk3 had a relatively long eight-year shelf life. The latest Megane builds on the talents of past models by adding some upmarket quality and technology to the mix, and as a result it's a car that's well worth considering.
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The Megane has an evolutionary look, which is no bad thing when you consider how radical past versions have been. The shape is similar to before, but with larger dimensions that are designed to create more interior space, while details such as the C-shaped daytime running lights on higher-spec cars and the prominent Renault badge on the nose help the Megane to stand out from the crowd.
Inside, there's a portrait-style touchscreen on the centre console, giving the Megane a hi-tech feel like a Tesla or Volvo, although the tried-and-tested technology on board shouldn't be intimidating to use.
The Megane is sold as a five-door hatchback or as a Sport Tourer estate. The last Megane was sold as a sporty three-door, and there was the Megane CC folding hard-top convertible, too. However, with buyers now more interested in SUVs and crossovers and sports cars, it's hard to imagine Renault offering new versions of these two cars. There is a new Renaultsport Megane, though. This has a 1.6 TCe turbo petrol engine and is set to be a front runner in the hot hatchback class.
The Megane is far from being the only family-friendly car in the range, as the stylish Scenic still flies the flag for the MPV class, and the Kadjar and Koleos crossovers tap into current demand for these models. All three of these models use similar running gear to the Megane.
Renault gave the Megane range a makeover in the first half of 2018 with revised trims and a pared-down engine line-up. Gone are the old Expression+, Dynamique, Dynamique S, GT Line, Signature and GT versions, replaced by just three specs: Play, Iconic and GT Line. All cars now feature sat-nav as standard, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and starting, Bluetooth, cruise control, LED daytime running lights and a host of safety kit are now fitted as standard.
Iconic comes with larger alloy wheels, switchable ambient lighting, auto lights and wipers, a TFT dashboard rear parking sensors, lane departure and traffic sign recognition, among other kit. GT Line adds a sporty bodykit and an 8.7-inch touchscreen to the mix.
Renault has also whittled the engine range down from five to just two, one petrol and one diesel. The 1.2 TCe 130 petrol has 128bhp and comes with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while Renault's seven-speed EDC auto is available at extra cost. The diesel is Renault's tried-and-tested 1.5 dCi 110, which comes with a six-speed manual as standard and an optional six-speed EDC auto. All versions of the Megane are front-wheel drive.
The compact hatchback class is fiercely competitive, and there are a lot of talented rivals to the Megane. Chief among these are class staples, the Vauxhall Astra, VW Golf and Ford Focus. French rivals are the Peugeot 308 and currently the Citroen C4 Cactus, although the latter is a budget alternative in the class. The SEAT Leon and Mazda 3 offer sporty handling, while the Skoda Octavia has more space than the Megane. If dependability and a long warranty are what you're after, then the Toyota Auris, Kia Ceed, Hyundai i30, Honda Civic and Nissan Pulsar are all dependable.
In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingA move upmarket has turned the practical and economical Megane into a desirable front-running hatchback
- 2Engines, performance and driveRenault has prioritised comfort and refinement over outright driving dynamics, but the Megane still handles well and is a competent motorway cruiser
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsPick one of the diesel-powered Meganes and Renault reckons you’ll manage nearly 80mpg. Low tax rates across the range mean it’s a good company car, too
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe Megane feels solid and well built, and if you go for one of the top-spec models you’ll benefit from a stylish touchscreen display
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceDespite offering a sizeable wheelbase and big boot, space in the back of the Renault Megane is only on a par with rivals from Vauxhall and SEAT
- 6Reliability and SafetyRenault reliability is improving, while safety has always been a key selling point for the French manufacturer