Renault puts Megane on a higher plane
Renault has created a modern dynasty of hot hatches on the back of a formidable Formula One motor racing record: think Megane and Clio.
Now the French automotive giant has added to the Megane family here with a wagon and sedan.
In comparison to the performance-based Megane hatch, with which it was born and bred, the new sedan is a stylish, premium packaged, practical vehicle, which is, once the steepish initial outlay is overcome, economical to live with.
It comes to Australia in two models — Zen and Intens — priced from $27,490 and $31,990 respectively, plus on road costs. Both feature Renault’s seven-speed Efficient Dual Clutch transmission. Power comes from a 2.0-litre Energy TCe 130 turbocharged petrol engine, the “130” referring to the horsepower (97kW) it puts out.
The Zen sedan can have an Advanced Driver Assistance System Pack as an option, which consists of advanced emergency braking inter-urban and lane departure warning, as well as a Sunroof Pack with electric sunroof, automatic dimming rear view mirror and sun visor with illuminated mirror.
Front and centre is a bold chrome grille wearing the Renault badge and linking headlamp units wrapped in C-shaped LED daytime running lights.
The emphasised horizontal rear light treatment almost meets in the middle, giving the sedan breadth to its looks from behind.
In profile the Megane sedan takes on the sleek form usually associated with a two-door sports coupe, its flared wheel arches adding to the effect, wrapping around the latest design 16-inch Silverline alloy wheels.
While the Zen model misses out on mood LED lighting and a standard multidrive experience, there are plenty of design features to put occupants at ease. The dashboard is sleek with a non-scratch softtouch finish, while the steering wheel can be optioned with a rich Nappa full-grain leather wrap.
Renault’s own R-Link 2 multimedia system controls multiple functions via a seven-inch landscape touchscreen (a larger 8.7inch tablet-style screen in the Intens model).
R-Link 2 allows the choice of personal home screens, varying the size and position of maps, radio, contacts, navigation and other functions. As with a smartphone or computer, the Megane Sedan’s home screen can be adjusted to prioritise information. Up to six user profiles are available, so multiple drivers can have the system pre-set to their preferences.
Turbocharging and fuel injection give the engine the capability of 97kW (130hp) at 5500 rpm and 205Nm from 2000 rpm, the same performance, says the maker, as a two-litre naturally aspirated motor.
The seven-speed Efficient Dual
Clutch automatic transmission combines the comfort of an automatic and responsiveness of a manual gearbox.
Zen driver and front passenger enjoy the benefit of adaptive and lateral pelvis and chest-level airbags, while front and rear curtain airbags are also included.
Active safety features include electronic stability control, ABS anti-lock braking, emergency brake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution and hill start assist.
The higher-spec Intens model of- fers standard Multi-Sense personalised driver modes and interior ambience LED lighting with five settings to match the mood.
The first thing to be said about the Megane sedan is how quiet the engine is at idle — silent almost, requiring a quick look at the tacho to see if it’s even running. Even under hard driving the engine manages to keep the noise down.
That’s not the only pleasant surprise. A hands-free card has the doors unlocking and locking automatically, while the boot lid opens via a kick motion under the rear bumper or by a button on the card.
This opens up an expansive 503 litres of boot space, which with the 60:40 split rear bench seat folded frees up to 987 litres of loading space over almost 2m in length.
The seating is said to suit five adults, but four would be more comfortable on a longer journey. Leg room in the rear is good, while head room is surprisingly satisfactory considering the roof’s slope.
As mentioned, the turbocharged technology of the engine errs on the side of economy rather than out-and-out performance, the Megane moving off the mark at a somewhat steady pace.
We are told the best time to 100km/h comes up in 10.9 seconds.
Our test car recorded fuel consumption of 6.5 litres per 100km on a mix of urban and highway driving.
While the word Zen implies a spiritual nature to the new Renault Megane sedan, practicality and fuel economy are the mainstays of the eponymous model. Price-wise, this base variant is in the upper reaches of a highly competitive market, which could hold it back.
With sleek and sporty looks, the new Renault sedan plays down the performance side of its hot-hatch siblings.
The dashboard is sleek with a non-scratch soft-touch finish.
The emphasised horizontal rear light treatment almost meets in the middle.