All eyes on the Mégane as Renault turns on the style
Best looker? Renault’s new coupé looks another winner, says Frederic Manby. The only reason I can think of to buy this coupé is because of its ‘looks’.
I HAD been to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The film was just about perfect if you can cope with some vivid violence and violent sex.
Stumbling out, humming with what I’d seen and heard, I made my way to where I thought I had left the Renault, outside a city-centre inn of character. It was a Sunday night. Milling earlydoors socialites were afoot. Three of them were in a semi-circular slow-mo trance.
At the focus of their radial stares was the Renault, white, speckled with black sooty rain and one bird airdrop on the nose, looking absolutely gorgeous in the half-light.
Normally, a click on the lock unblipper disentangles the gaze of strangers. I wish my ’97 Polo had it, if only to attract a bit of attention. The three men on the beat were unmoved. They kept on ogling the Renault.
This Renault Mégane Coupé is arguably the best looking mass-market coupé of its time. The curious threesome were not alone. My sister was smitten when I handed over treasured goods (our mother) in Wetherby.
She stepped from the ermine white Mégane into my sister’s ride, an early Clio in coalfield grey metallic with a leaking sunroof rimmed in translucent gaffer tape.
This car, some 15 years old, gets thrashed on the 400 miles between West Penwith and the West Riding, laden with organic food and clobber.
Some Renaults do not get good reports for reliability. Despite being treated like a coolie, and unloved by its harsh mistress, the dull Clio has been okay, following one overheating crisis which I think was caused by a lack of regular liquids.
Anyway, they went off to Stoke by Nayland in the Clio and I turned the Mégane north-west, for Spofforth. This road towards Harrogate must have been tramped by some of the most expensive tyres in the world. I mean, they are not exactly begging on the pavements in this socalled Golden Triangle of property and land. The asphalt had been tormented by thousands of opulent 4x4s and it aroused a drone from the Continental tyres on the Renault.
Mostly, though, the car ran quietly and with sufficient speed to be almost enjoyable. These three-door coupés are not my thing. Most of them are only spacious enough for the riders in the front.
You get as comfy as you can in the back, after struggling through the diminished door entrance. In doing so, you must swivel around to sit down. That is unless you can do the equivalent of the Fosbury Flop, by going in backwards. Be warned, this is tricky and it is more than likely you can not pull it off, so to speak, or will trip and tear your nails as you clutch at straws.
The only reason I can think of to buy this coupé is because of its “looks”. Its carrying capacity is limited by its shape, and the allocation in the cabin for oddments storage is poor.
Its rivals include the Volvo C30, the Seat Leon Cupra and the Volkswagen Sirocco. This latter certainly has good space in the rear seats but I have gone off it in a big way. Some hot wind blew over me a year ago when I tried it. I even dismissed Audi’s TT in the process.
I feel I could keep liking the Mégane. It is better looking than the Sirocco. It has a deep face that owes something to Audi design. I admire its large digital display on a white dial, and the tachometer, which is redlined in yellow, which is Renault’s motorsport colour.
The TomTom navigator was accurate and blipped when speed cameras were lurking, and gave the designate maximum speed for whichever road you were on.
The tripmeter showed that the previous 800 miles in various hands had averaged 33 miles a gallon. I reset, and, without trying hard, got 36mpg in general motoring, most of it out of town.
This is a car for male and female singles or couples. I’ve been through the threedoors-with-child phase and it is a potential disc-slipping process, or you’ll tear a shoulder ligament. Or lose your temper at least.
HEY, GOOD LOOKING: Renault Mégane Coupé.