New Renault Megane 2021 review
The revised Renault Megane hatch tries to catch up with its rivals
The updated Renault Megane isn’t short on style, especially in sporty R.S. Line trim. A rationalisation of the range means it’s now one of only two models available, and while there’s more standard kit and technology, including a much-needed digital dash, this facelifted Megane is an evolutionary update that just keeps it competitive in the fast-paced family hatchback sector rather than ripping up the rulebook. It’s good, but not great.
The fourth-generation Renault Megane was revealed back in 2015 and shot straight to the top of its class on account of its value and quality. Since then there have been facelifts and new generations launched of pretty much every family hatchback rival, so despite some updates to the Renault over the past five years it has slowly slipped down the order.
However, this facelift for the latest Megane is a big one. The new line-up offers extra technology – including a new plug-in hybrid model – more driver-assistance systems, a more premium feel and a refreshed exterior design, featuring new front and rear light units along with some welcome updates in the cabin.
Style was never a problem for the Megane anyway, but it looks sharper than ever before. The facelift brings with it new full-LED headlights, a redesigned front bumper, ‘dynamic’ scrolling indicators as part of the revised tail-light set-up, and a tweaked rear bumper. Buyers can also choose from a range of new wheel options and paint colours for the exterior.
Car group tests
Our R.S. Line car certainly looks the part, with 17-inch diamond-cut alloys and a sporty bodykit. However, it’s not at the expense of efficiency, given that the 138bhp 1.3-litre TCe 140 engine offers up a claimed 47.1mpg and 136g/km emissions of CO2, which are respectable.
So is the 9.4-second 0-62mph time, but you really have to work the relatively small engine quite hard to extract its maximum acceleration, using all of the revs available to you – and it’s not the smoothest or sweetest-sounding unit either; the VW Group’s 1.5 TSI is a more refined engine.
However, the motor is adequate. The six-speed manual’s gearshift is a little notchy, but better than we remember, while the steering is quick enough and has a good speed and weight, so even though this particular car is not a full Renaultsport model, there’s enough ability and agility to just engage keener drivers.
Those larger wheels do impact ride quality over bigger bumps, but the Megane is mostly smooth and comfortable, continuing what this generation of the French hatch has become known for.
As a result, the tech updates inside are more influential to the car’s overall feel. R.S. Line trim features a 10-inch digital dash, which boasts clear, crisp graphics. The 9.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system isn’t quite as good, but with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus over-the-air software updates built into the system, there’s plenty of functionality, even if the screen resolution and responses could be a little better.
One big benefit is that Renault has gone back to rotary knobs and buttons for the standard dual-zone climate control, instead of having functions for temperature and fan speed integrated into the touchscreen. It’s a big positive given the set-up’s slight drawbacks, and means adjusting the cabin temperature on the move is much easier and safer.
R.S. Line trim’s sports seats are good, with slightly racier-feeling upholstery compared with the rest of the range. Combined with decent-quality plastics on the dash and a sporty leather steering wheel, plus three different driving modes and eight separate colours for the ambient lighting as part of Renault’s Multi-Sense tech, the interior certainly feels like it has taken a small step on.
The only other trim in the revised Megane line-up is Iconic. It costs £2,000 less, but gets 16-inch alloy wheels rather than 17s, plus you’ll have to make do with a smaller infotainment system inside, and a car that doesn’t look as striking from the outside.
Boot space stands at 473 litres for this petrol model, which is still very good for the class and way ahead of rivals such as the VW Golf and Ford Focus, which can only muster 380 litres of capacity. The latest Megane also keeps up its reputation for safety and a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating by offering autonomous braking, lane-departure warning, traffic-sign recognition and automatic high beam.
However, if you want the Safety Pack (adaptive cruise and lane-keep assist), it costs £700, while the Motorway Pack (semi-autonomous cruise with lane centring and hands-free parking) is £1,000.
|Model:||Renault Megane TCe 140 R.S. Line|
|Engine:||1.3-litre 4cyl turbo petrol|
|Transmission:||Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive|