Stan­dard flair

France has a valid Mazda3 ri­val for those who don’t want to run with the pack

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

HAV­ING a good car isn’t good enough to be a win­ner in the small car class. Just ask Re­nault, whose Me­gane is earn­ing a trickle of in­ter­est amid a tor­rent of sales. Put that down to lack of knowl­edge in the brand— Re­nault is start­ing off a small base in Aus­tralia and is still ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic that French flair is a no-cost op­tion, not an ex­tra­cost one.

In the Me­gane, buy­ers get a solidly built hatch that rides well and has enough stan­dard gear to be value for money. The down­side is a con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion in the petrol mod­els that drone like a sem­i­nar speaker. The diesel, a bet­ter en­gine, is too noisy un­der load.

VALUE

The bot­tom line is $26,000, which buys a base model Me­gane Dy­namique with 16-inch al­loy wheels, a sixspeed man­ual gear­box and most of the fea­tures you want ex­cept satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion.

That’s about what it costs for a Mazda3 MaxxS­port but the Mazda does come with sat­nav.

Spend $2500 more for a Me­gane with the 1.5-litre turbo diesel and a six-speed auto. The Priv­i­lege spec level raises the bar by $4000 for the petrol and $5000 for the diesel.

TECH­NOL­OGY

The dual-clutch au­to­mated man­ual trans­mis­sion works well with the diesel. There’s a mo­ment of hes­i­ta­tion off the line but the torque rolls on early and gives the hatch de­cent per­for­mance around town. It doesn’t have the punch of a Ford Fo­cus TDCi but it also uses a litre less

diesel ev­ery 100km, with Re­nault claim­ing fuel use of 4.5L/100km.

STYLING

The front end of the Re­nault is dis­tinc­tive with­out stray­ing too far from the ac­cepted small car for­mula. The bumper sweeps up to the top of the wheel arches where it neatly blends in with the wrap­around lights.

Rear seat legroom is on the tight side— pack no more than two adults in the rear for a lengthy trip. How­ever, it’s very easy to load the boot, with its 360 litres of space.

The in­te­rior is just start­ing to date. Re­nault per­sists in putting the sound sys­tem con­trols on a block be­hind the steer­ing wheel where they can’t be seen or eas­ily used. Putting a cupholder in front of the USB in­put isn’t a Eureka’’ mo­ment, ei­ther.

Good deal: The Re­nault Me­gane is an im­pres­sive all-round per­former

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