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.