A fine brace of Renault Mégane

In Car Reviews, Renault by Neil Lyndon

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In a year of global convulsions and upheavals anything may be possible; but never in two lifetimes would I have reckoned on getting two consecutive test cars from Renault that I and my family truly enjoyed and admired.

Neil Lyndon gets on a lot better, with the All-New Renault Megane
The delivery of the All-New Megane and Megane GT, therefore, marked an unheralded departure from 25 years of dreary disappointment.

Looking back over that period, I can only recall two Renaults that I would have wanted in my garage: the Alpine A610 of the mid-1990s and the RenaultSport Clio Cup 172 of the early 2000s. The Espace was always a car I longed to love for its originality and inventiveness, but its chronic fallibilities placed it bottom of all cars in creation in too many surveys of customer satisfaction. As for the Avantime of 2002-4, the word “fallibilities” doesn’t begin to cover its farcical failures. The only test car in all my time that was delivered with a turn indicator hanging out of the body on its wires was also the only one whose electrically-driven windows got stuck half way open. Such was the finish on a car that had come specially prepared from the press garage. It’s enough to make you shiver to imagine the experiences of the poor punter who bought one straight off the assembly line.

Then there was Patrick le Quement’s abominable duck’s-arse Megane of the early 2000s – a design device so self-conscious and arch, so otiose and pointless that it made a mockery and a parody of the car. The toe-curling memory of the tv ad that had two supposed lecturers shaking their behinds at an audience has never faded.

Alas. The latest All-New Megane, therefore, arrived hauling a ton of emotional baggage and prejudice; and they made it waft away in minutes. For a start, their rear ends exhibit a sturdy and resolute decisiveness, more like an Ian Callum design for Aston Martin or Jaguar than the work of an egotist who is making the car a show of his own vanity. The sides and front end of the Megane could be criticised for lacking an edge of eclat or brio but, even so, this remains the best-looking family hatchback on the market at present.

The favourable impressions continue inside, where conservative certainty of aesthetic control abounds, with natty upholstery and muted contrast stitching. Renault have said they want to bring Latin styling and German quality to this car – an ambition we have heard before from French manufacturers. They may be OK on the styling front, but they still have some way to go to achieve Teutonic perfection.

The 7” information display in the centre of the dashboard is more like a Kindle Fire tablet than the full-size iPad-like display which glitters in the latest Volvo 90 series and, unfortunately, it doesn’t work with anything like the same clarity and. Even less effective is the remote key fob, whose controls are marked with symbols so minute that anybody over 40 will probably have to put on their glasses before they can see why they are locking the doors when they are trying to open them. It is also true that, while the new Megane is wider and longer than its predecessor and has more space for passengers and luggage, the rear load space is obstructed by a high, wide lip.

These, however, are minor cavils, in cars that gave pleasure to everybody in my family. My wife and children appreciated the looks and the comforts of the standard Megane that came to us: I enjoyed the 202 bhp petrol GT – the same engine as in the Clio 200 Turbo.

The stiffer suspension, anti-roll bars and four-wheel steering of this warmer Megane make it a pleasure to push along on country roads, though the seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, operated on spindly steering column paddles, is sometimes hesitant in finding the cog.

Car reviewed: All-New Mégane GT Nav 205 EDC – On the road £26,150, price as tested £29,225 0-62mph 7.1secs Top speed 143mph Fuel Economy combined 47.1mpg CO2 emissions 134g/km Engine 1618cc 4-cylinder 16 valve Petrol Max Power 205hp@6000rpm Torque 280Nm@2400rpm Transmission 7-speed EDC dual-clutch

Car reviewed: All-New Mégane Dynamique S Nav dCi 110 – On the road £21,050, price as tested £23,575 0-62mph 11.3 secs Top speed 116mph Fuel Economy combined 76.4mpg CO2 emissions 96g/km Engine 1461cc Common Rail Direct Injection Diesel Max Power 110hp@4000rpm Torque 260Nm@1750rpm Transmission 6-speed manual

  • Best-looking family hatchback

  • Visually pleasing styling

  • Pleasure to push along on country roads

  • High, wide lip at rear

About the author

Neil Lyndon


Neil Lyndon has been a journalist, broadcaster and writer on the UK's national stage for 40 years, writing for every "quality" newspaper on Fleet Street. He started writing about cars and motorbikes for The Sunday Times in the 1980s and was Motoring Correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph for 20 years, having previously written a column on motorbikes for Esquire. He is also recognised as a leading commentator on gender politics, having published No More Sex War in 1992 - the first ever critique of feminism from a radical, egalitarian point of view.

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