Renault Megane Dynamique – Review
By Liam Bird
In a world where it seems the whole world and his wife drive SUVs, it’s almost too easy to forget the family hatchback. And when you do remember, it’s more often than not that it’s the Ford Focus, the VW Golf, or perhaps more recently the now ubiquitous Audi A3 that first spring to mind. Deep down you know that all of the other motor manufacturers know this too.
It’s those aforementioned best-sellers that the new – all-new in fact, or so says the press bumpf – Renault Megane Dynamique is trying to steal sales from. Believe it or not, the Megane is now in its fourth generation. It’s over 20-years-old, and it predates the Focus. That said, it’s never been a sales chart leader. You can almost feel the French frustration.
Take one look at the all-new Megane and you can almost feel their aspirations too. Now longer and lower than the outgoing model, and with a longer wheelbase and a significantly wider front and rear track – now the widest in class – the all-new Mégane is the fifth Renault to be built on the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s new Common Module Family (CMF) vehicle architecture, after the Espace, Kadjar, Talisman saloon and Talisman estate (some of which we won’t see here in the UK). The said CMF platform is a highly flexible method of building cars allowing great efficiency, high levels of automation and, Renault claim, exceptional quality. It also allows technologies from upper-segment cars to be made available in less expensive models more affordably.
“A very pleasant place to spend some time”
As a result of those new fancy-pants underpinnings unique-in-class features will be offered which include a colour head-up display, a configurable 7-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) colour instrument display, R-LINK 2 connectivity systems via either a 7-inch landscape or 8.7-inch portrait tablet, Multi-Sense technology so you can “personalise the driving experience” and, on the GT version, 4Control four-wheel steering. Quicker Meganes will no longer be shaking dat ass apparently.
It’s a bit of looker too. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that it’s the most attractive Megane to date. Entry, on this the Dynamique S Nav, is keyless, as is start-up. And it won’t take you too long to realise that Renault have also been working hard in their interior quality. There are still a few hard plastics here and there – on the centre console especially – and because they couldn’t be bothered to move the fuse-box for those of us used to driving on the right hand side of the car, the glove box is an odd shape too. But overall the Megane’s interior is a very pleasant place to spend some time. You even get changeable mood lighting.
“Feels both safe and secure”
On the move it’s quiet, and once you get use to the slightly flat feeling driving position, everything falls nicely to hand. The long-throw six-speed gearbox does have to be stirred occasionally to make the most of the 1.5-litre diesel’s modest torque and power outputs. Especially so when overtaking. But overall the Megane feels both safe and secure.
Multiple airbags, stability control including EBA, ESP and ASR , ISOFIX, Bluetooth and from Dynamique Nav trim onwards, a package that includes climate control, automatic wipers, lane-departure warning, digital speedo with traffic sign recognition, and automatic dipping LED headlamps, plus a full five-star NCAP rating across the range, should also help further cement that feeling of security. A promised 76.9 mpg (I got high 50s out here in the real world) and just 96g/km CO2, mean running costs shouldn’t break the bank either. The steering’s a bit light though. The rear seats don’t fold flat and there’s a high loading lip too. Oh! And the automatic locking system seems to have a mind of its own.
“The real bug-bear lies with the front wipers”
Visibility is also an issue. The Megane’s rear window feels tiny, especially so if all three rear head restraints are in use. You’ll be glad of the sensors (and camera depending on spec) come parking time. Unless, that is, you’ve enough in the budget for the optional (£500) parking pack that does the job for you. Plus, it warns you of anything lurking in the blind spot while it’s at it. The real bug-bear lies with the front wipers. It’s as if they’re offset. They don’t clear enough of the right hand side of the screen directly in front of the driver. It’s as if you’re driving with an 8-inch thick A-pillar. Sorry, but that’s unforgivable.
So, Renault still have work to do to make their all-new Meganne a class leader. But it does compete in one of the toughest and most competitive classes of all. A Golf still feels better engineered, a Focus more engaging to drive, and the A3 still offers, and commands, a premium. But, if you’re after something a bit different and you can put up with a few French foibles, there’s a certain Gallic something on offer here that’s becoming harder to ignore.
Renault Megane Dymanique S Nav dCi 110
Engine: 1,461cc 4Cyl 8V turbo-diesel
Transmission: 6 speed manual, front wheel drive.
Power: 108 bhp @ 4000 rpm
Torque: 192 lbft @ 1,750 rpm
0-62MPH: 11.3 Sec
Max Speed: 116 mph
CO2: 96 g/km
MPG: 76.4 combined
Price: From £21,050 (as driven £23,575)