Renault Megane

We take the wheel of Renault's sensational new coupe concept.

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Renault’s va-va-voom is back! The Mégane Coupe Concept shows there’s much to look forward to from the firm’s new family hatch range. The Coupé will follow the concept’s sporty and sleek shape, and while the production version will be more conventional inside, there are plenty of hints that Renault’s design has taken a much needed turn for the better. If it’s as good to drive as it looks, Renault is on to a winner...

There's something of a coupé revival taking place: Volkswagen has just revealed its Scirocco, Ford has hinted at a new Capri and Renault is planning a two-door Mégane, due to be unveiled this autumn.

We couldn’t wait until then, though, so we’ve become the first magazine to try one of the most eagerly anticipated cars of the year – and a star of last month’s Geneva Motor Show.

Before you climb aboard, there’s a double shock in store. First, the Mégane Coupé Concept doesn’t have a conventional key. You open it by tapping a unique PIN into a Samsung mobile phone. Then there are the doors. The Mégane gets a ‘dragonfly’ arrangement, so called because the metal and glass area are separate.

Both parts are connected to the car by a carbon-sculpted arm at the back. This swings the two parts up independently, like the wings of a dragonfly. The doors are wide and the mechanism offers easy access to the rear seats, but more amazing still is the cabin they conceal.

The seats and full-length centre console are sculpted from carbon fibre and then covered in a special red lacquer. This material is also used on the dash, where it’s set off with black nubuck leather. From the driver’s seat, the first thing you see is a single display with an analogue speedo in the style of a watch face and vertical digital rev counter.

It’s important eye candy, but perhaps more critical for drivers is visibility out. The coupé has a very high waistline that will find its way on to the production model. However, the glass roof and network of thin pillars provide a clear view of the road ahead, while the rear view cameras that beam images to the dash monitor are effective, too.

Firing the engine is simple. You simply lock the phone into the centre console and press the stop/start button. Acceleration from the Renault-sport Mégane-sourced 2.0-litre turbo unit isn’t exactly brisk, despite the firm’s claim of a 7.2 second 0-62mph time and 150mph top speed. But that’s no real surprise given how heavy this concept is – those experimental doors weigh a hefty 30kg each. Despite that, and dimensions that make it larger than the current Mégane, it’s remarkably easy to manoeuvre and place the coupé on the road.

At 4,514mm it’s closer to the Laguna in terms of length, but it’s stable and reassuring thanks to a sports suspension set-up that’s likely to feature on the production car.

Indeed, it all bodes well for the next-generation Mégane, which will be unveiled at September’s Paris Motor Show. Renault has been criticised for the bland looks of recent launches such as the Twingo city car and new Laguna, but the Mégane Coupé Concept goes some way to addressing detractors.

The deep-set front grille and aluminium inserts either side merge seamlessly into the LED headlamps to give the car a cheery, open-mouthed look. And the way the light plays off the curves of the front wings as they merge into the bonnet gives a far more dynamic appearance than Renaults of late.

The rear isn’t quite so successful. The back seats lack leg and headroom, and will only be suitable for children and adults on short journeys. Admittedly the look is striking, but the way the lights are recessed above the rear wheels seems to divide opinion in the same way that the current Mégane’s ‘bustle’ does.

The tail is a bit stubby, and although the small boot is fine for a sporty car, it’ll be fascinating to see how Renault accommodates the larger luggage space of the five-door hatch into this new look. One thing’s for sure – we won’t have to wait long to find out!

See latest images of the new Megane five-door here...

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