Renault Mégane Coupé
French three-door looks good, but how does it perform on the road?
Buy a Renault Mégane Coupé, and you’ll have no shortage of admiring glances. Unfortunately, the three-door doesn’t have quite the same appeal for the person behind the wheel. There are a number of contradictions – the styling is ultra-sporty, but the seats are unsupportive and the suspension is overly firm, while the steering is numb and inspires little confidence in corners. The torquey engine and stylish lines are highlights, but by trying to be a Jack of all trades the Coupé ends up as a master of none.
Elegant models such as the Alfa Romeo Brera, VW Scirocco and Renault Laguna Coupé have proved that putting desirability before practicality is making a comeback. Now Renault’s Mégane is getting in on the act. The Coupé version is here – and we’ve driven it on UK roads.
In terms of styling, Renault has done a fantastic job. From every angle, the low-slung Coupé is a real head-turner. Aluminium-effect grille surrounds brighten up the nose, while the raked roofline, muscular rear haunches and redesigned tail-lamps give the Renault an athletic stance.
However, the Mégane still retains an element of practicality. There’s a useful 344-litre boot, while two adults can fit snugly in the rear seats.
Inside, there’s soft-touch leather on the dash and doors, and a chunky feel to the switchgear. However, the seats could offer more support during cornering, while the navigation and audio controls are counter-intuitive.
The Coupé sits 12mm lower than the five-door, and has a stiffer suspension set-up which sharpens up the dynamics. Unfortunately, the ride is fidgety on bumpy B-roads, and the electrically assisted steering, while weightier than on the hatch, offers no real feedback. The 2.0-litre TCe turbo engine is a different story, though, providing strong, smooth acceleration, thanks to a healthy 178bhp and 300Nm of torque. There’s also a less potent 1.6-litre petrol unit, or a choice of three dCi diesels.
If driving dynamics play second fiddle to style, then the Mégane could be the choice for you. However, with prices from £14,745 to £19,195 before fitting options, it’s expensive for a Renault. Performance fans might want to wait until the Renaultsport version, previewed by the Mégane Trophy Concept at last year’s Paris Motor Show, goes on sale next year.
Rival: Alfa Romeo Brera Drop-dead gorgeous styling has come to be expected from Alfa’s design team. But the dynamics can’t live up to the looks. Last year’s Prodrive-tuned Brera S remedied a number of problems, though.