Marvel at the Megane
ITH more than six million sold since 1995, it might be reasonable to assume the Renault Megane is a known quantity – well think again.
The recently-launched fourth generation model is packed full of surprises that in turn delight and intrigue.
With the likes of the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot 308 in opposition, Renault had to ensure the latest Megane made a bold statement.
And it does, both inside and out, with the exterior a quantum leap from its predecessor thanks to eye-catching front and rear LED light designs, sculpted shoulders, tight curves and an imposing front grille featuring the French car manufacturer’s diamond-shaped badge.
Step inside the family hatchback and the technology-rich cabin is at first a little overwhelming with the huge 8.7-inch vertically-mounted portrait touchscreen dominating proceedings.
There is a lot of trial and error if you are like me and fail to use the instruction manual provided – but it is pretty logical, even to this old brain, so navigating your way around its many graphics, apps and options doesn’t take that long to master.
The latest Megane is the first Renault to be fitted with the company’s Multi-Sense system which gives access to almost all the car’s functions – including climate control, satellite navigation and the excellent music system – from the touchscreen.
If you want a car that makes you feel at home then the Megane is it, as there are seemingly limitless choices to configure it to your heart’s desire with suspension stiffness, steering and even the colour of the ambient lighting all possible to alter.
A dazzling light show in the cabin mirrors the LED display outside as changing driving modes alters the colours on the screen and the instrument panel depending on the option chosen with green, blue and red backgrounds for the eco, comfort and sports settings.
There is a quality feel to the interior with comfortable seats and plush materials highlighting a decent fit and finish.
A dizzying array of engines are available to pick from including a 202bhp GT hot hatch. The 110bhp diesel under the bonnet of the car I tested is a bit more sedate but offers excellent fuel economy and tax-busting carbon dioxide emissions.
The 0-62mph time is officially listed as 11.3 seconds, but the Megane feels a good bit faster than this away from the lights and is peaceful and refined when cruising on a motorway.
A smooth ride is guaranteed with the Megane more composed than Beethoven’s 5th Symphony so it hits the right note when absorbing the many humps and hollows littering our roads these days.
There is plenty of grip available and the car is beautifully balanced making it an agile performer.
A host of safety systems are included with the TFT instrument panel boasting a distance warning to display how many seconds you are from the car in front – changing from green to red as soon as you break the two second rule. Also included are lane departure warning –which rumbles ominously if you start to drift out of your lane – blind spot alerts and adaptive cruise control.
The latest Megane is taking on some top-notch competitors, but its smart looks and technology-stuffed interior should ensure it adds significantly to the millions of sales previous generations have already garnered.
TEST DRIVE RENAULT MEGANE DYNAMIQUE S NAV DCI 110
MODEL: Renault Megane Dynamique S Nav dCi 110 PRICE: £20,400 MECHANICAL: 110bhp, 1461cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox MAX SPEED: 116mph 0-62MPH: 11.3 seconds COMBINED MPG: 76.4 INSURANCE GROUP: 21 CO2 EMISSIONS: 96g/km BIK RATING: 19% WARRANTY: 4yrs/100,000 miles