It’s hard to believe that the Renault Megane stretches back 20 years and some 6.5 million have been sold globally. Now it’s time to welcome the fourth generation car – and it’s better than ever.
Longer and lower than the outgoing car, the new Megane also sports a sleeker design and interior features which set a new benchmark in the family hatchback sector.
Renault’s trademark diamond badge sits bigger than ever at the front, while the eye-catching new LED light signatures (front and rear) are up there with the best of them.
The range (all with five doors) starts at £16,600, but I’m going to concentrate on the Dynamique S Nav dCi 110 (£20,400, or £22,925 with extras on my test car), which is likely to be one of the biggest sellers.
Finished in eye-catching Flame Red, its impressive 1.5-litre diesel is capable of 76.4mpg ((50-60mpg is possible in the real world), while its CO2 emissions dip below the magic 100 at 96g/km, which means it’s tax exempt too.
Thankfully all this fuel efficiency is not totally at the expense of performance. On paper it has a top speed of 116mph and can reach 62mph from standstill in 11.3 seconds, but it feels brisker.
Step inside and it’s clear that the new Megane is a big step up from the previous model.
The centre console is dominated by a large portrait-orientated 8.7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, giving a more minimalist feel with fewer buttons than before, so touch, pinch and swipe away.
The system is slick and intuitive, giving access to many of the car’s main controls including the latest in connectivity. A portrait screen is unique in this class – you’d have to look at a Volvo XC90, Tesla Model S, or even a McLaren 570S Coupe, so find a similar system.
The cockpit in general has a quality feel, offering plenty of space up front, though it’s fair to say that it’s adequate in the back rather than class-leading, but still an improvement over the Mark 3. Boot space is a healthy 384 litres.
Ambient interior lighting is also available and there are five options to choose from.
Delve deeper into the infotainment system, plus the stalks and buttons on the steering wheel, and it’s clear that the new Megane is packed with tech too.
Active Emergency Braking (AEB), Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning and automatically dipping headlights to name but a few.
These driver aids, plus features such as four airbags help the Megane on to a maximum 5-star safety rating in Euro NCAP crash tests.
Start her up and it’s immediately obvious that Renault’s engineers have done a fine job – the 1.5-litre diesel is surprisingly smooth and refined, while the six-speed manual gearbox is a pleasure.
The suspension set-up is fairly soft, making progress comfortable, although it’s no hot hatch so there is a little body roll if it’s hustled on more challenging roads. In summary, it is easy to drive around town, but also relaxing on longer journeys.
There are five driving modes to choose from – Neutral, Sport, Comfort, Perso and Eco – which pretty much do what they say with varying degrees of success – but ultimately, this Megane is all about economy, comfort and practicality.
Verdict: Golf, Focus and Astra buyers should think again – Renault’s gone upmarket with the latest Megane and it’s a return to form. Chic, safe, comfortable, economical and refined, the new Megane continues Renault’s renaissance.