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Renault Megane Coupe 2.0 Dynamique TCE 180
7/10

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Renault Megane 2.0 Dynamique TCE 180

Driven May 2009

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It's the Scirocco's fault. If VW hadn't brought out its Golf-based three-door last year, we'd be raving about the Megane Coupe: a good-looking, good-driving hatch-coupe with a bit less practicality and a bit more excitingness than a five-door. Problem is, everything the Megane does well, the Scirocco does better.

Let's clear up the name to start: the Coupe is simply the three-door Megane. However, it's a much more extreme iteration of the three-door formula than, say, the Focus or the Golf, with a wide, swept up C-pillar curving into the rear hatch, a slanted roofline and a pair of big shiny air vents at the front. It lacks the subtlety of the Scirocco's neat lines, but the Coupe is a handsome enough thing. The trade-off, predictably, is cramped seating in the back, and a view out the rear window that resembles looking through a wrong end of a telescope. No matter, though. The Scirocco suffers the same malaise: sacrifices must be made for beauty.

It's sharper than the five-door on the road, too. The Coupe gets firmer suspension - not quite Cup chassis stuff, but noticeably stiffer - and a ride height lowered by 12mm, which means less body-roll through corners at the expense of a little joggling over dodgy tarmac. That's partly the fault of the 17-inch wheels, which are standard with the range-topping 178bhp turbo petrol engine. Essentially a detuned version of the engine that'll feature in the upcoming RenaultSport Megane, it'll rustle the Coupe to 62mph in 7.8 seconds, putting the top-end Coupe squarely between the 1.4- and 2.0-litre petrol Sciroccos. It isn't quite as convincing as either, in truth - though you get a decent lick of low-end torque, there's not the in-gear surge of the 2.0-litre-engined Scirocco or the rev-happiness of the 1.4. For sheer balance and responsiveness, the Megane just can't keep pace with the Scirocco, though there are plenty of worse cars to punt down a windy road.

In fact, the only place the Coupe can really kick the Scirocco is on price. Not this version, which weighs in slightly more expensive than the smaller petrol 'Roc, but if you're prepared to forego any kit, or indeed performance, you can pick up a 109bhp petrol Megane Coupe for under £15,000, three grand cheaper than any 'Roc. If you want a Megane to take the fight to the Scirocco, best hold off for the RenaultSport edition, which arrives at the end of the year with a serious 247bhp and meatier visuals. Better get a wriggle on with that hotter ‘R20' Scirocco, VW.

Sam Philip

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