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SECTOR Lower Medium PRICE €19,800 – €31,300 FUEL 3.5 – 7.7l/100km CO2 90 – 190g/km
Renault’s growing electric vehicle range might be stealing the limelight at the moment, but the changes are just as important, if not more so, elsewhere in the range. In a tough market the Megane – which sits in the most hotly contested sector in Europe – needs to be a very focused product.
Though not as revolutionary as the likes of the Twizy, it has a vital role to play as the carmaker’s biggest-selling car, and the outgoing model has had the tough task of reclaiming the trust lost by its reliability-plaguedpredecessor, a car frequently found listed as a top offender for warranty-related faults.
Thankfully for Renault, it’s performed well. The carmaker claims a 40% reduction in first-year reliability issues compared to the old car, marked by a four-year “excellent” reliability rating from ADAC, and there was a noticeable improvement in materials throughout. That’s a good basis for netting buyer interest, but prioritising quality cost much-needed distinctiveness, held back further by competitive but ultimately unremarkable fuel consumption figures.
These are both issues solved here. Renault has updated the styling with a few subtle panel changes, and the end result is a car that’s become much more modern and stylish in line with the rest of the segment. There’s also a well-equipped entry-level trim to bring the start price down.
But the most notable cost reductions come from under the bonnet. The refresh introduces the first of Renault’s downsized petrol engines, the 1.2-litre TCe 115, which replaces the less powerful 1.6 16v unit in the outgoing car.
Rivals may have beaten Renault to the post, but this is a capable offering. At 5.3l/100km it offers a 1,132km range, emitting 119g/km CO2, which should make a competitive alternative to a more expensive diesel. Though it lacks the flexibility of Ford’s 1.0 EcoBoost Focus, it’s lively at high revs and doesn’t sound strained when it gets there.
Also new is the 1.6-litre dCi 130, introduced in the Scenic last year. It’s a great fit in the smaller car too, purring through the revs with almost no clatter and offering petrol-like progressive power delivery from under 2,000rpm. Fuel economy is impressive at 4.0l/100km, while CO2 emissions of 104g/km put a wide margin between the Megane and similarly-powered rivals.
But the headline-grabber here is the revised 1.5-litre dCi 110, which now shrinks to a class-leading 3.5l/100km and 90g/km regardless of body style, in turn resulting in a 1,713km range – the highest of any car on sale.
Both diesels are eligible for eco subsidies in France and the Netherlands, contributing to a 25% reduction in running costs for the dCi 110 compared to its predecessor. The only cost of the lower output engine is refinement. It feels a generation behind the dCi 130 in terms of power delivery and engine clatter.
It corners well, too. Behind the brilliant Renaultsport version, it’s easy to forget how well the standard car holds the road. Ride quality is good, while the brakes and steering feel reassuringly mechanical.
Drivers opting for the range-topping GT Line of the hatchback and Sport Tourer also gain Coupe-derived suspension settings, resulting in even better handling.
The braver styling and marked reduction in costs mean the Megane is now a noteworthy C-segment contender. Ironically, the most efficient models might actually now be cheap enough to make a case for themselves against Renault’s own limelight-stealing electric vehicle range.
The outgoing Megane had plenty to offer. Its replacement boasts best-in-class economy, superior quality and styling, plus an attractive warranty and assistance programme.