Renault Megane TCE 180 Dynamique

turbocharged petrol model is the hottest version of new Renault from launch. So, how does it rate?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

After its predecessor was so distinctive, it’s a shame the new Renault Mégane is likely to get lost in the current hatchback playing field. Although it is neatly styled, it’s no head-turner. Still, the car has improved dramatically when it comes to dynamics. It’s brilliant to drive with that blend of suppleness and agility which French manufacturers tend to do so well. This version, with the most powerful 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, is quick, effortless and entertaining. It’s well equipped, too.Rival: VW Golf 1.4 TSIWhile the Mégane is capable, it’s outclassed by the super-turbo 1.4 TSI Golf. This model is quicker and much more green, posting economy and CO2 emissions of 44.8mpg and 145g/km respectively.

How good is the new Renault Mégane? We were impressed by the 1.5-litre diesel version we drove last week (Issue 1,033). This week, it’s the turn of what will be the hottest model when the car is launched next month.

It’s called the TCE 180 – the letters stand for Turbo Control Efficiency – and it’s matched to the mildly sporty Dynamique trim.

The bodystyle is five-door only from November, with the three-door Coupé joining it next year. And it’s the latter that will turn most heads: Renault has played safe with the five-door in the hope of alienating fewer buyers than its predecessor did.

Inside, the cabin is no design revolution, either, but the quality feels good. The neatest part is the instrument cluster, whose rev counter overlaps a round, digital speedometer with high-resolution LCD representations.

Activate the limiter warning and segments light up around the speedo as the pace rises. They flash once you’re past your selected maximum. This function will probably make the most sense on this particular model.

The 180bhp 2.0-litre car powers from 0-62mph in 8.3 seconds and on to 137mph. It’s typical of today’s best turbos in having hardly any lag, great response and almost diesel-like torque. A smooth, six-speed box helps.

The best news, however, is the handling. The Mégane’s underpinnings are based on the old car’s, but there’s a fresh and much stiffer front subframe on which is mounted an entirely new electric power-steering system.

And, taking a cue from the Renaultsport Méganes, there’s now much less self-centring assistance when you don’t want it. The result? Precise, natural steering which complements great roadholding, keen handling and a taut but smooth ride.

The new Mégane might not have quite the refinement of the latest Volkswagen Golf, yet it runs the Ford Focus close for entertainment. That’s good news if you happen to enjoy driving – and it bodes well for Renaultsport variants to come.

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