Foibles are stan­dard

Herald Sun - Cars Guide - - SHORT CUT -

VALUE

Pric­ing the Megane against the Volk­swa­gen Golf is a brave move but Re­nault reck­ons its hatch is just as well equipped as its Euro­pean ri­val. In the case of the Zen, that runs to a sev­eninch screen with sat­nav, du­al­zone air­con, elec­tronic park brake, re­vers­ing cam­era, tyre pres­sure mon­i­tor and cruise con­trol. Re­nault backs the Megane with a five-year warranty and the first three an­nual checks will cost $299 each, which al­le­vi­ates con­cerns about Euro­pean cars be­ing ex­pen­sive to ser­vice.

COM­FORT

The Megane is rea­son­ably com­posed in cor­ners but there is an oc­ca­sional sus­pen­sion crash over ruts when the pace is on. The steer­ing is far bet­ter sorted with good feel­ing for what the front wheels are do­ing and a light weight that won’t be­come tire­some in car parks. Er­gonomics are ef­fec­tive with the ex­cep­tion of the cruise con­trol switch (hid­ing be­tween the seats) and the au­dio con­trol “block” (lurk­ing be­hind the steer­ing wheel). Still, it wouldn’t be French if it didn’t have some foibles.

SAFETY

ANCAP hasn’t rated the Megane but it should be struc­turally sound and has six airbags. Au­ton­o­mous emer­gency brak­ing, a no­table omis­sion, will be avail­able next year. The same holds true for adap­tive cruise con­trol, while even some­thing as rudi­men­tary as a blind spot warn­ing is re­served for the more ex­pen­sive GT-Line ver­sion. It’s not a deal­breaker but it is some­thing to con­sider come re­sale time.

DRIV­ING

A tur­bocharged 1.2-litre en­gine and seven-speed dual-clutch au­to­matic drive the front wheels and per­form ad­mirably in daily du­ties. Ac­cel­er­a­tion on take-off isn’t go­ing to set the world or the rub­ber on fire but, un­der way, the Megane makes the most of its mid-range torque to more than match the traf­fic flow. The rear seats will take a cou­ple of tall adults, though leg room is limited.

AL­TER­NA­TIVES

There’s no short­age of ca­pa­ble cars in this class. The Golf is the ob­vi­ous ri­val and a sim­i­larly equipped 92TSI Com­fort­line is $28,340, plus $1500 for adap­tive cruise con­trol, emer­gency brak­ing, blind-spot mon­i­tor and rear cross-traf­fic alert. The Golf also has a nar­row per­for­mance and fuel econ­omy edge. Quicker than both but thirstier, the Mazda3 GT is $25,690 (six-speed auto adds $2000). Ac­tive driver aids are stan­dard on the Mazda.

VER­DICT

The Megane is a class act but it needs to be at this price. The ab­sence of AEB doesn’t do it any favours with the safe­ty­con­scious but oth­er­wise it com­petes pretty well on spec­i­fi­ca­tion and per­for­mance.

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