All in d’accord
After the bubble-bum Megane came this altogether more decorous device
IT’S fair to say Renault hasn’t set the world on fire since it returned to the local market in the 1990s. Rather, its out-there looks and over-the-top pricing has meant it has struggled to get any traction with buyers.
But in 2010 the French brand changed its approach with a new, simplified Megane range that was better looking, better equipped and substantially more affordable. The new model was clearly still European but the styling wasn’t as challenging as the previous model and fitted in better with the existing motoring landscape.
The range was whittled down to two main models, the entry Dynamique and the fully equipped Privilege, both fivedoor hatches, supplemented by a Cabriolet for sun-lovers and the three-door Sport hatch for thrillseekers.
All were well equipped. The Privilege had the longest list of features, including leather, sunroof, satnav and rear parking sensors. The safety picture was five-star impressive with six airbags, electronic stability control, ABS, emergency braking, rollover protection on the convertible and auto wipers and headlights.
A 2.0-litre premiumslurping four provided the motivation for the most part, but there was also the option of a 1.5-litre turbo diesel. Sports fans were satisfied with a 2.0litre turbocharged four fitted to the three-door.
The automatic option was a six-step CVT, the manual a six- speeder. The cabrio came only with the former. On the road, the regular Megane models were quiet and comfortable and with aplomb soaked up everything Australian roads could dish out.
We get few complaints about Renaults in general, and the Megane in particular, but that could be explained by the relatively low sales of the brand rather than a positive endorsement of the car. Still, it’s worth noting when you go shopping that Renault owners appear to be a contented lot. Nevertheless we have heard complaints from owners who have trouble resolving issues. With that in mind it's a good idea to visit a number of Renault dealers and get an idea of the service and back-up you might expect to get from them if you sign up to the brand.
At the same time you should consult independent Renault specialists to get an unbiased opinion. Generally an independent garage is a good place to have your car serviced as it doesn’t charge as much as a dealership. The mechanics know the brand and any quirks in the cars, and they usually know where to buy the most affordable replacement parts when needed.
If you are like most of us, and prefer to drive an automatic it’s worth spending some time at the wheel of a Megane to see whether the CVT is to your liking. The essence of the CVT is to maintain the engine in a given speed range to maximise its efficiency so it can sometimes be off-putting to drive. The engine can appear to be screaming its head off when in reality its working as it should be. Remember also that Renault recommends you use premium unleaded.
Worth a look, and much better than previous models, but there are better buys around.