The Renault Megane has been one of the go-to hatchbacks for a while, since 1996 in fact, selling a whopping 6.6 million units in that time. But it’s always been a bit of an oddball when it came to style, even in recent years.
The new 2016 Megane however looks better than ever, with a revamped, sportier exterior design that makes it less polarizing.
Based on the CMF platform – the same platform used for the French brand’s Kadjar SUV – the new Megane offers the usual plethora of engines and trims albeit with improvements in efficiency and technology. It also carries a reassuring five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
A Sports Tourer version of the Megane is on its way, but what of its five-door hatch?
The turbocharged 108bhp 1.5-litre dCi is likely to be the most popular diesel choice, offering the promise of ‘power and efficiency’ rolled into one.
Although a zero to 62mph sprint time of 11.3 seconds doesn’t sound very fast, the diesel does feel rather punchy, with its 260Nm of torque feeling more than adequate in everyday driving. In fact, select Sport mode and the diesel has a characterful growl to it – although a lot of this sound is artificially pumped out of the speakers.
You can feel the slight delay of the turbo when at low revs with peak power coming in at 1,750rpm – but this shouldn’t be an issue unless you plan on gunning it from a standing start every time you set out on the road.
The 1.5-litre dCi can be specified with either a six-speed manual or a EDC automatic. We tested the manual which can feel a little slack, but again, this will only become noticeable if you open it up and start rifling through the gears quickly.
Ride and Handling
The Sport mode sharpens up the throttle response and makes the steering heavier, which results in an adept feel, unlike some highly artificial Sport modes.
Most hatchbacks tend to purposely lean towards being either sporty or comfortable. The Megane however does a great job of striking a balance between the two. On one hand it offers plenty of grip with little body roll and on the other its ride does a brilliant job of soaking up bumps, ultimately resulting in a capable yet comfortable hatch. The diesel’s well refined too and you may be fooled into thinking it’s a petrol at times. The steering is hardly razor sharp, but it is definitely on the right side of responsive, with enthusiastic cornering being its only undoing. The Megane has a series of driving modes to choose from as part of its Multi-sense system. Modes like Neutral, ECO and Comfort soften things up a bit, making the steering lighter and the ride suppler. The Sport mode sharpens up the throttle response and makes the steering heavier, which results in an adept feel, unlike some highly artificial Sport modes. Perso mode gives the driver the freedom to create their own bespoke driving mode by allowing them to specify the likes of throttle response and steering feel.
Interior and Equipment
Renault is set to release a hybrid version of its Megane hatchback in 2017.
The interior of the new Megane is a huge improvement over the existing model, with a simpler, plusher layout and a series of new technologies. The biggest news is the 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen, which is standard on models from Dynamique S and upwards. This screen comes accompanied with easy-to-follow menus and is also customisable to suit you, however some of its responses could be sharper. As we had the Dynamique S Nav model, we got sat-nav, which really impressed with its ability to specify directions in accordance with the surroundings. For example, “take the next left before the petrol station”. Our Dynamique S Nav model also came with the likes of a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, 17-inch diamond-cut alloys, part-leather upholstery, DAB radio and Bluetooth. A design feature we particularly like is how the driving aid camera, which facilitates the likes of Adaptive cruise control, is hidden behind the Renault badge on the car’s nose. The Megane doesn’t slump on the practicality side though, with loads of rear passenger space, plenty of cubby holes dotted around and a large 434 litre boot. The boot does have a rather large loading lip, but this can be excused due to the boot’s sheer size.
On the majority of our test we were pushing it hard on country roads, which saw us get an average of around 50-55mpg
The dCi 110 diesel claims an average return of 76.4mpg. However, on the majority of our test we were pushing it hard on country roads, which saw us get an average of around 50-55mpg. That may seem a long way off, but it’s actually not bad. We are confident that the 70mpg mark can be achieved with some long motorway stints. CO2 for the dCi 110 also ducks under the 100g/km mark at just 96g/km. The Dynamique S Nav model starts from around the £20,000 mark, but for that price you get a lot of sophisticated tech.
Although extremely popular, the Megane has long been a leftfield option in the hatchback market. But with rejuvenated style and fancy new tech, the Megane is now one of the go-to models for advanced tech and style. If that wasn’t enough, its range of engines is also brilliant and can stand up to the best in the business.