Light un­der­cur­rent

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Used Car -

Re­nault has al­ways been a bit player on the Aus­tralian mar­ket, mostly ap­peal­ing to those who want to be dif­fer­ent.

In 2010 it moved a step closer to the main­stream with a new Me­gane range that was bet­ter look­ing, bet­ter equipped and sub­stan­tially more af­ford­able.

The styling was still Euro­pean, though not quite as “out there” as the pre­vi­ous Me­gane, and fit­ted bet­ter into the lo­cal mo­tor­ing land­scape.

What was known as the X32 range was whit­tled down to two main mod­els, the en­try-level Dy­namique and the fully equipped Priv­i­lege. — the at­trac­tive five-door hatches we fo­cus on. There were also a cabri­o­let and three-door Sport.

All were well equipped. The Priv­i­lege had a com­pre­hen­sive list of stan­dard fea­tures that in­cluded leather trim, sun­roof, sat­nav and park­ing sen­sors.

The Me­gane’s safety kit was im­pres­sive with six airbags, elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol, ABS and emer­gency brak­ing, plus auto headlights and wipers.

Buy­ers chose from petrol or diesel power. The petrol en­gine, a 2.0-litre four-cylin­der de­signed to run on pre­mium un­leaded, peaked at 103kW and so pro­vided steady rather than scin­til­lat­ing per­for­mance.

For more fru­gal mo­tor­ing, the 1.5-litre four-cylin­der turbo diesel claimed fuel econ­omy of just 4.5L/100km.

There was also a choice of man­ual and au­to­matic trans­mis­sions. In the Dy­namique, the op­tions were six-speed man­ual or a six-step CVT. The Priv­i­lege came only with the CVT.

On the road the Me­gane was quiet and com­fort­able, soak­ing up all the ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties of Aus­tralian roads with im­pres­sive aplomb. Own­ers gen­er­ally re­garded the model be­fore the X32 as a thor­oughly re­li­able car that gave lit­tle trou­ble. How­ever, the X32 seems to have taken a step back in some ar­eas with own­ers re­port­ing frus­trat­ing prob­lems with electrics and elec­tron­ics.

With that in mind it’s im­por­tant to be cau­tious when ap­proach­ing a po­ten­tial pur­chase and thor­oughly check that all such equip­ment is work­ing prop­erly.

Apart from the elec­tri­cal con­cerns, the Me­gane’s drivetrain and chas­sis get high marks for re­li­a­bil­ity and dura­bil­ity with few or no re­ports of prob­lems in those fun­da­men­tal ar­eas.

It’s im­por­tant to give the CVT a good work­out to bring out any prob­lems it might have.

Some peo­ple are con­cerned about the way the CVT drives when they first ex­pe­ri­ence it as it doesn’t drive like a nor­mal au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

It’s de­signed to keep the en­gine run­ning within a nar­row rev range in which the en­gine is at its most fuel-ef­fi­cient and the revs don’t rise and fall as they do with a reg­u­lar au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. It’s a char­ac­ter­is­tic of the CVT that may take some ad­just­ment on the driver’s part.

Ser­vic­ing can be ex­pen­sive if you use a dealer. It may be worth find­ing an in­de­pen­dent ser­vice spe­cial­ist to have your car main­tained.

Be­fore hand­ing over your hard-earned, ask the ven­dor for proof of ser­vice in the form of a ser­vice book or in­voices for work done.

We haven’t a good run with our 2012 Dy­namique. It has a great drivetrain, cruises ef­fort­lessly and han­dles well but we’ve been let down by prob­lems with the in­ter­mit­tent wipers. There was a wind­screen stress frac­ture and the front seat split. The prob­lems were bad enough but were made worse by Re­nault’s re­luc­tance to fix them.

It was love at first sight in 2011 when I bought my Me­gane. I knew I had to have it af­ter test-driv­ing it. It looks great; it’s smooth, com­fort­able and has ev­ery­thing I could want.

The Me­gane is a dy­nam­i­cally ca­pa­ble car that looks good and drives well but is let down by dodgy elec­tron­ics.

We are proud own­ers of an older 2004 2.0- litre auto Re­nault Me­gane Dy­namique hatch. It has done 72,000km, mostly driven by my wife. Apart from reg­u­lar ser­vic­ing and nor­mal tyre and bat­tery life, it has served us with ex­cep­tional re­li­a­bil­ity. At­trac­tive, well-equipped, safe small hatch is gen­er­ally serv­ing its own­ers well.

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