Renault’s stylish new Megane cool and comforting
- Credit: PA
Renault's new Megane GT is a comfy and good-looking family car. Ed Wiseman enjoys an early drive of the 'warm' hatchback of the new range.
It's sexier. Renault's gorgeous design language has finally reached the Megane, bringing the French brand's long-serving family hatchback up to date, with a Sport Tourer estate to follow later this year. It's better inside and out, incredibly comfortable, and boasts plenty of French style. Renault is back on form.
A new platform means more space inside, some cars have a portrait touchscreen infotainment system and the range-topping version gets four-wheel steering and even launch control.
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Looks and image
It's probably the most striking car in the sector, attracting interest even from non-car people – pretty remarkable for an ordinary hatchback. The headlights have an instantly-recognisable C-shaped LED accent, and the tail lights stretch across nearly the whole back end of the car. This makes the car interesting, especially at night.
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Side-on is the only angle from which the Megane looks a bit conventional. Every corner is sculpted in a pleasing way. Competitors such as the Vauxhall Astra are easy on the eye, but the Megane is one of the best-looking cars on the road today.
Space and practicality
Like the three Meganes before it, this one is comfy. The ride is nice and soft, and the seats – especially in the front – are gloriously comfortable. The boot is capacious at 384 litres, rising to 1,247 litres with the 60/40-split rear seats folded down – in line with the class-leaders.
Lots of buttons have been replaced with a touchscreen system but it is harder to use which could frustrate some users who are more used to conventional controls.
Behind the wheel
The final UK engine range is not yet avaiable but new Megane offers fuel-efficient, low-emission powertrains – in line with Renault's downsizing strategy – with 130hp 1.2-litre and 205hp 1.6-litre TCe turbo petrol engines, the latter in the GT 'warm hatch'. The turbo diesel alternatives are 90 and 110hp 1.5-litre and 130 and 165hp 1.6-litre dCi units. Some markets will get a 115hp 1.6-litre non-turbo petrol engine model.
A Hybrid Assist diesel-electric powertrain, based on the 110hp 1.5 dCi unit, follows next year.
Handling is good, and is imperceptibly improved in the GT version with the addition of four-wheel steering – the back wheels turn a tiny angle either in the same direction or in the opposite direction to the front wheels, depending on speed. This feels good on windy roads but even better on motorways, where lane changes are noticeably smoother.
It handles better than the previous generation and leads the way in comfort. Add-ons for the GT include launch control.
Value for money
Full pricing hasn't been released in the UK, but starting at around £18,000, the Megane is good value. The quality of the materials used in the more upmarket versions mean that it's an attractive option across the range, too. If you want a smooth, comfortable family wagon – and one that looks great on your drive – you can't do much better than the new Renault Megane.
Who would buy one?
The Megane is something a little bit different. It's what French cars used to be – comfy, easy to live with and a little bit quirky. This will appeal to families who value style in addition to substance.