What’s Hot: Great little 1.2 litre turbo, impressive handling/ride balance in Authentique grade.
What’s Not: Diesel engine lacks 'oomph', pricey at the top end of the range
X-FACTOR: Even in base form, the new Megane impresses; and it's a little more interesting than most of its near competitors.
Vehicle Style: small hatch, small wagon
Price: $20,990 (plus on-roads) to $35,490
97kW/205Nm 1.2 turbo petrol 4cyl
81kW/240Nm 1.5 turbo diesel 4cyl
6sp manual or 6sp twin-clutch auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 4.5 l/100km (dCi 110), 5.6 l/100km (TCe 130)
Renault has rejigged its Megane range.
The old 2.0 litre petrol engine is gone, replaced with a 1.2 litre turbo petrol. There's also an automatic option for the base model, while the entry grade has changed from Expression to Authentique.
The range-topping Privilege model grade has also been cut, leaving the more popular GT-Line Premium as the highest spec variant.
There’s also new front styling, the first application of Laurens van den Acker’s new corporate identity for the Megane, and one that mirrors the Clio’s ‘face’.
Prices have risen modestly - up to $1000 - though the entry-level Authentique manual remains at $20,990. After our first drive of Renault’s reinvigorated Megane range, we reckon the base model is also the one to get.
- Authentique: Cloth upholstery, Bluetooth audio/phone, cruise control, speed limiter, power windows, manual air conditioning
- GT-Line: Sports seats, front and rear parking sensors, GT-Line dashboard trim, GT-Line cloth upholstery, leather steering wheel, sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, power folding and heated wing mirrors.
- GT-Line Premium: Leather upholstery, heated front seats, rear-view camera, glass sunroof, Visio system
- Boot capacity: Hatch, 372 litres with seats up. Wagon, 524 litres with seats up, 1600 litres with seats down.
The main features of the interior are unchanged, with the dashboard, instrument panel, door trims and most other cabin furniture carrying over.
The base Authentique feels a bit bare-bones inside, with a urethane steering wheel and shift-knob, basic cloth upholstery, manual air-conditioning and a basic audio headunit.
The essentials are there - cruise control, Bluetooth phone/audio integration, power windows and mirrors, foglamps - but parking sensors and a reversing camera are not available in the Authentique, and at $20,990 there are other small hatches that beat it for value.
The mid-grade Megane GT-Line fares much better, with auto-on wipers and headlamps, front and rear parking sensors, sat-nav, a touchscreen display, dual-zone climate control, leather steering wheel and more generously-bolstered front seats being added to the spec sheet.
Step up into the GT-Line Premium and you get a two-panel glass sunroof, heated front seats, two-tone leather upholstery, a reversing camera and Renault’s Visio safety system, which adds lane departure warning and auto-highbeam.
Comfort in the GT-Line seats is very good, though the steering column could still do with a few more centimetres of reach adjustment.
The passenger seat also lacks height-adjustment, which usually leaves your plus-one sitting much higher than you.
The rear seat is ample for two adults, but, frustratingly, you need to spend big on the GT-Line Premium in order to get a fold-down centre armrest and cupholders for your backseaters.
The glass sunroof of the Premium also cuts into rear headroom.
The hatch offers a fairly commodious cargo area thanks to a 372 litre boot capacity. But the wagon is impressively versatile with a 524 litre seats-up capacity rising to 1600 litres with a 255cm-long load area when you fold down the front passenger seat.
ON THE ROAD
- TCe 130 1.2 litre turbo petrol engine: 97kW/205Nm
- dCi 110 1.5 litre turbo diesel: 81kW/240Nm
- Six speed manual or six speed dual-clutch automatic
- Front-wheel drive
- Disc brakes all around
The base Authentique rides extraordinarily well. The suspension is supple over bumps and gives great comfort, yet still manages to deliver excellent grip in corners.
It's a nicely balanced chassis too, with the rear-end slewing around nicely when flung into a corner.
Keen drivers will appreciate this chassis, while everyone else will admire its ride comfort.
The lower and firmer suspension of the GT-Line models diminishes ride quality somewhat, and the slimmer sidewalls of their 17-inch alloys doesn't help either. Handling is brilliant, but will owners forgive the brittle ride over pockmarked roads?
The new petrol engine is a corker when paired with the standard six-speed manual, but not quite as exciting when bolted to the optional EDC twin-clutch automatic.
While the manual delighted us with its light and smooth shift, the EDC can at times be reluctant to kick down and slow to respond when accelerating from a standstill. Unless you have an aversion to clutch pedals, get the manual.
But whichever transmission you pick, the 1.2 litre (which previously was only available on the base model, and only with a manual) is an improvement over the 2.0 litre naturally-aspirated petrol motor previously offered.
The 1.2’s 97kW power output is a shade less than the old 2.0’s 103kW, but with 205Nm of torque spread over a wider rev range, the 1.2 is more tractable than the former's 195Nm.
The diesel, however, is a lacklustre affair when it comes to performance. It's a lazy revver and doesn't enjoy being worked hard.
Though it's efficient on paper, the need to lean on the throttle up hills means it's not as effective as it should be.
Indeed, with many diesels in the small car segment class capable of delivering more power and torque, the Megane's dCi donk is simply underpowered.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars - this model scored 35.83 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD, brake assist, six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain), ISOFIX child seat anchorages, pretensioning front seatbelts.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The small hatch segment is the most heavily-populated segment in Australia, and there is no shortage of competitors to the Megane hatch.
The small wagon segment is a little less crowded though, and here’s a list of rivals that are available in both hatch and wagon form.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Megane is rapidly approaching the end of its life, and an all-new replacement is not far away.
But, though it may be getting a bit long in the tooth, the Megane is still a decent small car offering.
The wagon, in particular, is certainly one of the most appealing options among small wagons (not a lot to choose from) should you be searching for a compact load-lugger.
For its commendable ride-comfort, great handling and willing engine/transmission package, we like the base model Authentique manual most of all.
Though autos rule the roost with buyers, it’s a shame that the well-rounded GT-Line variants are not available in manual form.
PRICING (excludes on-road costs)
- Authentique TCe 130 MT - $20,990
- Authentique TCe 130 EDC - $23,490
- Authentique dCi 110 EDC - $25,990
- GT-Line TCe 130 EDC - $26,990
- GT-Line dCi 110 EDC - $29,490
- GT-Line Premium Pack TCe 130 EDC - $30,990
- GT-Line Premium Pack dCi 110 EDC - $33,490
- Dynamique TCe 130 EDC - $26,990
- GT-Line TCe 130 EDC - $28,490
- Dynamique dCi 110 EDC - $29,490
- GT-Line dCi 110 EDC - $31,490
- GT-Line Premium Pack TCe 130 EDC - $32,490
- GT-Line Premium Pack dCi 110 EDC - $35,490
- GT220 Hatch $35,490
- GT220 Sport Wagon $36,990
- GT220 Hatch Premium Pack $39,490
- GT220 Sport Wagon Premium Pack $40,990