By Gerry Murphy
All dressed up in a new suit and a hungry for the fare, the new Renault Mégane looks rather dashing in the metal and has enough substance to satisfy what most compact hatchback drivers are after.
For starters, designers at Renault have continued along the same lines as the Clio and the Kadjar with an exterior that is both eye-catching, and has a substantial kerbside appeal.
Distinctive from every angle, the front and rear lighting signatures are permanently lit when the engine is switched on. In particular at the back, the always-on rear lighting strip adds a unique safety value and cosmetically adds significantly to the look.
The car itself is lower, with a longer wheelbase than the last model, and that gives it even more balanced proportions.
Inside, there are characteristics to admire too. The seats in the tested 1.5-litre dCi GT-Line NAV model are sporty, snug and support the body really well. Internal materials are of a good quality and the layout is typical Renault. There is a drawback though – neither the design nor the functionality of the infotainment system is simple enough.
Every car maker is offering touch screens and buckets of technology these days. Renault has, in my opinion, over complicated their version and it takes too many processes at times to operate the primary functions. It draws the eye away from the road when trying to navigate your way through it which is supposed to be one of the reasons why these systems improve safety. Fine, you get lots of technical functions but, basic controls should not be so complex.
In GT-Line NAV specification, Renault have a car here that can match anything in the segment with confidence. You can set it up to suit your driving style, and the furnishings give it a sporty image and feel. You get a better response from the steering in sport mode; however, it is still fairly sharp in other modes too.
On the road, while it may not be as taut as the market leaders, the Volkswagen Golf or the Ford Focus, it is still a precise car that is at home on the twisty terrain as it is on the motorway.
Renault is using this 1.5 dCi turbo charged engine in most of their current range of cars and also share it with Nissan. It has proved to be ultra reliable and in its latest guise it offers decent power and CO2 emissions of 96g/km which equates to an annual road tax bill of €180. Over a test run of 980km, I achieved a fuel consumption of 5.3L/100km, not a bad figure under test conditions.
Prices for the range start at €19,490 with the GT-Line NAV as tested here coming in at €25,990. That specific price is great value for money for the additional specification that you get and the little embellishments that make it look so good.
You got to hand it to Renault for taking the brand to new heights in the past couple of years. There is a new refreshing approach from the brand here in Ireland in terms of pricing and marketing and it is delivering dividends in the sales figures. Already they are ahead of the industry curve and with the prices quoted, the Mégane has now become a serious contender in the segment.