Renault Megane ST: Fifth report

Not even a Christmas Day breakdown could blot our practical estate’s copybook

Our Renault Megane’s emergency triangle was pressed into service over the Christmas holidays, so it didn’t get any Yuletide presents from me.

I was expecting to visit my local Renault dealer over the festive period anyway, as the Megane was rapidly approaching 36,000 miles and its second service was due. This was playing on my mind coming up to and during the holidays, but then the car broke down on Christmas Day, of all days.

According to the glowing warning light on the dashboard, the problem was related to the engine, but with no nasty smells or smoke present, and a quarter tank of fuel remaining, I didn’t think there was anything seriously wrong. So I phoned Renault Assistance, which swiftly sent a recovery truck to take me home. The driver was also good enough to go on to my mum’s, so I could still enjoy my turkey, Brussels sprouts and Christmas pud.

As there were no garages open, Renault Assistance employed the AA to come out a second time, after Christmas, to take the Megane to Westover Renault in Poole, Dorset, where the fault was quickly traced to air in the fuel line. The car’s computer shut the engine down when it detected the problem, which explained why I couldn’t get it to start.

According to the technicians, the fault could have been caused by running the car very low on fuel – something I have to admit I do pretty regularly. I’ve made a mental note not to run on fumes simply to delay an inevitable refuelling stop. But the fact is I haven’t treated the Renault differently to any of the cars I’ve previously run – and this is the first time I’ve experienced a problem.

Indeed, this was the first time I’ve ever broken down properly. As I spend so much of my time on the road, I often see stranded drivers waiting for help to arrive. I always think myself lucky when I see them but, thankfully, this wasn’t a really bad experience.

All the people I encountered were reassuringly efficient, from the staff at the call centre to the AA recovery driver and the technicians at Westover Renault.

While the car was at the garage I decided to kill two birds with one stone and have it serviced. It wasn’t cheap, at £401, so Renault’s new, free, four-year all-inclusive servicing plan, is sure to be popular. It is being introduced in February and should save new car buyers a small fortune in maintenance bills.

Aside from the pain in my wallet, my other major complaint is the lack of space for bottles inside the Megane. The drinks holders are specially shaped to hold cans, but they’re no good if you’re using a bottle, as I tend to do. The solution is to use the door pocket, but bottles tend to slide around irritatingly every time you go around a corner or brake heavily.

Mind you, if all I can find to moan about is the lack of cabin stowage, even after the Megane has broken down, it must be doing something right.

Extra Info

“The built-in TomTom sat-nav has served us well. It’s not as neatly integrated as systems fitted to some rivals, but it has proven accurate and easy to use.”

Stuart Morton, Chief sub-editor

“Isn’t it time Renault took some lessons from Lotus? Its cars ride and handle beautifully. Renault should bear this in mind for its next generation of cars.”

StraightSixMan, via

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