Parkers overall rating: 3.5 out of 5 3.5
  • Simple engine line-up for the Megane
  • Manual and EDC auto choices
  • Fewer engines available than at launch

You can choose from a sole petrol and a sole diesel in the Renault Megane hatchback – and both have seen service elsewhere in various Renault, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz models.

Renault Megane TCe petrol engines

Just one petrol engine is available in the Megane – a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol with 140hp and 240Nm of torque. It’s the same unit you can find in some versions of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, as well as the larger Renault Kadjar and Nissan Qashqai crossovers.

Go for the manual gearbox and it takes 9.5 seconds to complete the 0-62mph sprint, while the EDC automatic takes 9.2 seconds. Both versions will reach 127mph top speed.

It’s a refined and torquey engine, and will pull fairly strongly on the motorway – even when fully loaded with passengers. It’ll require a little bit of gearbox work, but very few petrols don’t. There’s ample power most of the time and it feels nippy enough around town, too.

Renault Megane BluedCi diesel engines

Here you can choose just one diesel engine – the BluedCi 115. It’s a 1.5-litre turbodiesel with 115hp and 260Nm of torque. It’s available with a choice of manual or automatic gearboxes. Choose the manual gearbox and the 0-62mph time is 11.1 seconds, while the automatic option brings this down to 10.6 seconds. Top speed is 118mph and 119mph respectively.

Gearboxes

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 – the problem is the gearlever itself which feels cheap and flimsy.

Renault Megane RS performance

As ever, there’s an RS performance version of the Megane, powered by a 1.8-litre petrol engine producing 280hp and 390Nm of torque. It’s good for a 0-62mph sprint time of 5.8 seconds. Performance is the same for the EDC automatic model.

If you want more than that, the RS Trophy ups the power to 300hp and 400Nm of torque, and drops the 0-62mph time to 5.7 seconds, however the changes are more prominent between the two cars in the way they handle.

The 280hp petrol engine pulls well and delivers enough in-gear performance, yet there’s a final level of excitement that’s missing. The noise, with or without the enhanced sound pumped into the cabin, is neutered and doesn’t add anything to the driving experience. Nor does the transmission, which feels notchy and unpleasant at times, yet does improve once you’re used to it.

Engines no longer available

Both petrol options at launch were turbocharged to allow decent performance and economy, starting with the entry-level 1.2-litre Energy TCe 130.

This produced, unsurprisingly, 130hp and could be paired with a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

The second engine – known as TCe 205 – was a 1.6-litre auto-only unit, packing 205hp for swift progress and was available only in the Renault Megane GT. It was also the only version to crack 0-62mph in under 10 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 much more focused 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.

We 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.

At launch, there was a diesel choice 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 was the part of the range to choose if you wanted 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 if buying used – 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.

In 2017 there was a twin-turbocharged version of the 1.6-litre introduced, with 165hp, for the Megane GT.

  • Tidy handling and composed ride
  • Multi-Sense driving modes
  • Nice feel to the steering

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 its predecessor was no slouch in the bends, Renault says a lot of work went in 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, but the Megane manages to blend being responsive and agile, while remaining composed and comfortable. It’s a nice balance – only cars with larger alloy wheels fitted feel like they’re a little more fidgety than others.

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.

On older models, if you upgraded to the sportier GT, the ride felt stiffer, thanks to revised springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. This car also came with rear-wheel steering (no longer available), 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 made 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.

Driven: Renault Megane RS 280 (Cup Chassis) and Trophy-R

The regular Megane RS (albeit with the Cup Chassis – adds stiffer springs, a Torsen limited slip differential and stronger brakes) is a hefty 40hp down on the Honda Civic Type R – probably its closest real-world rival. Yet that doesn’t stop it running the Japanese hot hatch close for outright agility levels. Here, the 4Control four-wheel steering comes into its own and allows the Megane RS to turn (almost literally) on a sixpence, with minimal provocation required to get the rear of the car sliding outwards.

Overall grip levels are high, while the limited-slip differential carefully meters out power to the front wheels, allowing the car to pull hard out of tight corners. It’s not as downright effective as the technology in the Civic Type R, but then few systems are.

As for the chassis, it lacks the suppleness to show off its abilities on all but the smoothest of roads. The steering, too, requires good tarmac to do its best work. Otherwise, it’s responses and feel just off-centre are slightly numbed by the bumpy surface working the suspension hard. Find the right piece of smooth asphalt, however, and the Megane RS comes into its own. The firm chassis is allowed to breathe and the razor-sharp agility comes to the fore.

Opt for the Trophy-R and while the engine and gearbox are unchanged, the rest of the car is anything but. Designed for track use (but still road legal) it sheds 130kg off the Trophy’s overall kerbweight, doubles the downforce and adds heavily upgraded suspension components. This includes ditching the complex 4Control four-wheel steering system, rear seats and even the rear wiper, while adding a brand new F1-inspired rear diffuser and Öhlins dual flow valve adjustable dampers all-round.

The end result is a car that feels significantly more focused than the Trophy, both in how it feels to drive and the breadth of its capabilities. Grip and traction levels are immense, while the level of feedback the driver receives through the controls is improved, if not still quite as seamless as it could be – especially through the steering. Also worth noting is that the adjustable dampers can be tweaked so that they deliver a softer setup than the fixed chassis on the Trophy version, giving the car what – theoretically – should be a better on-road ride (we’ve only driven it the Trophy-R on circuit so far).

Should you want even more from the Trophy-R, a Carbon Ceramic pack is also available. This adds lighter carbon wheels, immensely powerful carbon brakes and revised carbon aerodynamic components at the front. The brakes especially, are fabulous, yet only 30 of the 500 Trophy-R’s will have the pack fitted.