Renault’s family plan
Practical and good value sedan and wagon siblings join the small Megane hatch. They’re well-equipped and well-built, says Craig Duff
CONDIMENTS don’t make a meal but they do enhance the flavour. With that in mind, Renault has added a Megane wagon and sedan to compliment the volume-selling hatch in the small car ranks.
The move is equal parts aiming to present a complete range of products and to gain incremental sales in a fiercely competitive segment.
Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar says the three-pronged range now means potential customers who appreciate the looks and the five-year warranty have no excuses for overlooking a Megane.
“Until now we could only sell to hatch customers. They’re the biggest buyers in the segment but it also meant we didn’t have an option for the other 35 per cent of small car buyers who wanted the style of a sedan or the versatility of a wagon body. Now we do,” he says.
Hocevar reckons the Megane beats its key European competitor, Volkswagen’s justrefreshed Golf, on price and specification.
“This is the best-value European-built car in the class,” he says.
On face value it is hard to argue with. Key gear in the base Zen version includes a sevenspeed dual-clutch automatic transmission, tyre pressure monitor, auto lights and wipers, satnav and eight-speaker audio, 16-inch alloy wheels and a footswiping sensor to open the boot.
More importantly, the driveaway price is just $29,990. For $700, add autonomous emergency braking, lanedeparture warning and auto high-beam headlamps.
Spend $35,990 to drive off in an Intens sedan and the default spec includes the Zen’s optional active driving aids plus adaptive cruise control and blind-spot warning, semi-automated parking, leather upholstery, panoramic sunroof, LED headlamps, 18-inch rims, 8.7inch capacitive infotainment screen and five driving modes affecting steering weight, transmission, engine and accelerator response.
The wagon will be sold in Zen, GT-Line and GT versions. The first two share the 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbo engine from the sedan; the GT beefs up with a 1.6-litre turbo mill good for 151kW/280Nm.
Zen buyers will still need to factor in $700 over the $30,490 drive-away deal for the active aids; the GT-Line and GT mirror the Intens spec and roll out of the showroom at $36,490 and $42,490 respectively.
Boot space in the sedan is 503L; the wagon dds 77L.
ON THE ROAD
This French duo is pretty much unflappable on the roads around Albury-Wodonga. The ride is relaxed without wallowing and the steering dutifully follows the degree of turn on the tiller without any kickback or rattle.
The 1.2-litre performs dutifully without being a powerhouse. Performance is on a par with the likes of the 2.0 in the base Mazda3, so there’s not much to complain about.
As with the Mazda, it doesn’t mind a sinuous stretch of bitumen. The Megane’s chassis provides a solid platform so the suspension can do its job of isolating the cabin from road irregularities while keeping the tyres flat on the road surface — it sounds simplistic but is a fairly complex ask and the Megane has it down pat.
If more enthusiastic driving appeals, the Megane GT wagon is the go. It ups the ante with a respectable 7.5-second run to 100km/h and packs all-wheel steering to improve the cornering experience.
The set-up turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts at moderate speeds to sharpen turn-in response dramatically.
The newest additions to the small car class won’t necessarily soar on the sales charts but they reinforce Renault’s value-formoney reputation. Practical, well-equipped and well-built — there’s no excuse for not taking the Megane for a test drive.