What is it?
The Renault Megane isn’t a bad car. But it’s an ignored car, a fringe player within a sector dominated by the fearsomely capable Volkswagen Golf, the best-selling Ford Focus and the stupidly good value Hyundai i30. So, to pep things up, Renault gave the Megane range a facelift last year. Visually, this served to neaten already pretty lines, with a new front end boasting the obligatory LED daytime running lights and a smart gloss black insert. There were new colours and, inside, a host of infinitesimal trim revisions. All sounds a bit so-what: luckily, the changes below the surface were more significant.
Renault introduced three new engines with the latest Megane, all boasting stop-start. The 1.2 TCe direct-injection turbo sounds tiny but has 5hp more than the 1.6-litre it replaced, and is 25 per cent more fuel-efficient. It’s almost as impressive as Ford’s even smaller 1.0-litre turbo in the Focus. Meanwhile, the long-running 1.5-litre dCi was updated, with economy rising 15 per cent yet peak torque and power delivery also improving too. There was also a new 1.6-litre diesel too, with 130bhp and enough torque to match a 2.0-litre TDI Golf.
The chassis itself was largely unchanged, meaning the latest Megane feels little different to the old one: firm but comfortable ride and an able chassis that inspires faith. This isn’t an overtly sporting car to drive but it still pleases drivers with a blend of precision and confidence. Maybe it’s the Renaultsport genes rubbing off.
On the inside
The Megane’s high-quality interior has not fundamentally changed during its lifetime. It still has a spot-on driving position, still feels very cramped in the back (particularly the Coupe). Renault’s upped the gadget count, with lane departure warning and automatic main beam function now available as an option. There is a standard hill start assist function, an air quality sensor for the climate control and an optional rear parking camera. Every new Megane gets Bluetooth and USB sockets as standard too.
Here’s where the Megane plays its trump card: in 1.5 dCi guise, it has become the most fuel-efficient family hatchback on sale, averaging 80.7mpg. CO2 emissions of 90g/ km also nearly level-peg the Toyota Prius hybrid: not bad for a conventional turbodiesel hatch. Even the swift 1.6 dCi can average 70.6mpg and the 1.2 TCe turbo returns a diesel-like 53.3mpg. As for quality, Renault says the Megane represents its worldwide quality benchmark. It’s even putting its money where its mouth is here, with a four-year warranty.