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Sector: Lower Medium Price: £16,275 - £26,025 Fuel: 34.4-80.7mpg CO2: 90-190g/km
Renault’s growing electric vehicle range might be stealing the limelight, but the changes are just as important, if not moreso elsewhere in its UK product offering.
Fresh from a massive cull last December, the remaining parts of Renault’s range are being rapidly updated to emphasise the brand’s ‘‘va-va-voom” character, and the Megane is the latest to come under the knife.
Though not as revolutionary as the likes of the Twizy, it has a vital role to play in Renault’s range. Megane is the carmaker’s biggest-selling car, and the outgoing model has had a job on its hands reclaiming the trust lost by its reliability-plagued predecessor, 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, and there’s a noticeable improvement in materials throughout. That’s a good basis for netting buyer interest, but prioritising quality cost its 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 petrols, the 1.2-litre TCe 115, which replaces the less powerful 1.6 16v in the outgoing car.
Rivals may have beaten Renault to the post, but this is a capable offering. At 53.3mpg it offers a 700-mile range, emitting 119g/km CO2, which should make a competitive alternative to a more expensive diesel. Though it lacks the low-down pull 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 70.6mpg, while CO2 emissions of 104g/km put a wide margin between this and similarly-powered rivals.
But the headline-grabber here is the revised 1.5-litre dCi 110, which now shrinks to a class-leading 80.7mpg and 90g/km regardless of body style, in turn resulting in a 1,060-mile range – the highest of any car on sale.
Predictably, Renault sees the associated cost-savings making this a big-seller in the fleet segment, where the engine is expected to be fitted to 55% of cars. The only cost is refinement – this isn’t the noisiest diesel on sale, but it predictably feels a generation behind the dCi 130 in terms of power delivery and engine clatter.
It corners well, too. Behind the brilliant Renaultsport cars, it’s easy to forget how well the standard car holds the road. Ride quality is good, the brakes and steering feel suitably mechanical and the front wheels respond confidently to driver inputs. The range-topping GT Line hatchback and sport tourer also gain Coupe-derived suspension settings, resulting in even better handling.
Now backed by Renault4+, the four-year roadside assistance, servicing, finance and warranty package as a sign of its quality, Megane has a lot going for it beyond the practical reasons to buy. Ironically, it’s actually likely to be cheap enough to give Renault’s own electric vehicles a run for their money.
The outgoing Megane had plenty to offer, but perhaps didn’t shout about it loudly enough. Its replacement boasts best-in-segment economy, improved quality and more up-
to-date styling with an attractive warranty and assistance programme. This should make it stand out against a tough pack.
05 Jul 2012 11:01