- Four engines from launch
- Manual and EDC-auto options
- Sporty petrol GT with diesel to follow
You can choose from a pair of petrol engines and a pair of diesels in the Renault Megane hatchback – and all have seen service elsewhere in various Renault and Nissan models.
Both options here are turbocharged to allow decent performance and economy, starting with the entry-level 1.2-litre Energy TCe 130.
This produces, unsurprisingly, 130hp and can be paired with a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox – pick the latter and there’s a CO2 penalty of just 2g/km, resulting in 122g/km in total.
The second engine – known as TCe 205 – is a 1.6-litre auto-only unit, packing 205hp for swift progress and is available only in the Renault Megane GT. It’s the only version to crack 0-62mph in under ten seconds, taking just 7.1 seconds to complete the benchmark sprint.
This is a decent warm hatch that feels pretty strong and excites without taking attention away from the forthcoming RenaultSport version. You can also take control of gearshifts with large, column-mounted paddles – worth it as the transmission dithers about a bit in automatic mode.
Here you can choose between the four-cylinder duo seen in the Renault Kadjar and Nissan Qashqai - 1.5-litre (dCi 110) and 1.6-litre (Energy dCi 130) units offering 110hp and 130hp respectively. Unsurprisingly this is the part of the range to choose if you want good fuel economy, with up to 76.4mpg and CO2 emissions of 96g/km on offer.
The dCi 130 is the most rounded choice here – with bags of mid-range torque helping to accelerate the Megane without having to work the engine hard and respectable running costs too. It even sounds good, not thrashy and agricultural, but strong and bassy.
Later in 2017 there will be a 165hp diesel-electric hybrid, based on the 1.5-litre motor, plus a twin-turbocharged version of the 1.6-litre, also with 165hp, for the Megane GT.
Most engines are available with a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearboxes, save the GT which is auto-only.
The self-shifter doesn’t slip between its ratios as accurately as a Ford Focus but it is light in action and far from baggy.
We drove the automatic GT and found the gearbox to be a bit indecisive at times, although things improve when you take control with the column-mounted paddles. These are set quite high so if you drive with a quarter-to-three hand position on the wheel you might find them hard to operate. Real enthusiasts will appreciate the sequential action of the central gearshifter though – which you push forward for downshifts and back for upshifts.
The GT car also comes with launch control, activated by pulling the two shifter paddles. Hold the brake and accelerator pedals down at the same time and the engine is held at optimum revs for a speedy getaway. Find a tight bend and you can downshift several gears at once thanks to the Multi-Change Down function, too.
- Sharp standard handling
- Multi-Sense driving modes
- All-wheel steering available
The standard Renault Megane hatchback offers a good balance of driver enjoyment and comfort. It resists rolling around well, allowing you to really take advantage of the accurate and well-weighted steering.
While the last car was no slouch in the bends, Renault says a lot of work has been done to this generation’s chassis to improve its appeal to enthusiastic drivers. We still think a Ford Focus or Mazda 3 is a better fit for those customers, though.
Upgrade to the sportier GT and as you would imagine the ride feels stiffer, thanks to revised springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. This car also comes with rear-wheel steering, a system that turns the back wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts at lower speeds to improve manoeuvrability.
It’s a good gadget and it makes the Renault Megane feel significantly shorter around town. The only problem is, rather than subtly altering the cornering angle, you can actually feel the Renault’s system pushing the back end around. This can feel a bit disconcerting at first, like driving on a slippery surface.
Once you get used to its influence, and the points at which it activates, you can appreciate the extra agility, plus at higher speeds the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the fronts to improve stability. We think it makes more sense as an optional extra, or even a no-cost delete for drivers wanting a less corrupted experience.
You can also tailor the way the Renault Megane feels with a drive mode selector called Multi-Sense. This gives you the option of Neutral, Sport, Comfort, Perso (individual) and Eco modes. As well as altering the throttle response and engine sound, this system also alters things like the steering weight, automatic gearchanges and interior lighting ambience - the latter switching between sepia, red, blue, purple and green.
High-spec models and the Renault Megane GT do the best in terms of interior quality. The latter’s blue metallic trim may be a bit divisive for some.
The larger portrait central screen looks good, plus it’s really sharp and responsive, complementing the auxiliary digital dials in upper-trim cars.
While the main dashboard is squidgy and a pleasing shape, there are some scratchier plastics knocking around the cabin. We think this will be more obvious on cheaper cars, which don’t benefit from the fancy garnishes seen on the range’s upper echelons.
The Renault Megane strikes a good balance between driver enjoyment and comfort – the ride quality, especially, manages to tread this line well.
Sportier GT cars are firmer but feature great supportive seats that knock the hard edges off some of the lumpier movements of the chassis.
It’s quite refined on the move too with little wind or tyre noise finding its way into the cabin, although at lower speeds the Megane’s suspension feels a bit jittery.