The Auto Trader expert verdict:
The Renault Megane makes a good case for itself with economical engines, affordable running costs and decent levels of safety kit.
Reasons to buy:
- Comfortable to drive
- Well equipped
- Frugal diesel engines
How good does it look?
The previous generation Renault Megane was famous for shaking its rear end in television adverts, but when it came to designing the next generation car, Renault played it safe. Instead it designed a curvy and inoffensive-looking hatchback that erred on the side of caution, rather than being outlandish and exciting to look at. New for 2012 was an updated nose with LED daytime running lights (Dynamique TomTom trim and above) and bumpers featuring black and chrome highlights. A new range of alloy wheels was introduced and a new shade of blue and white added to its list of exterior colours.
What's the interior like?
The quality and design of the cabin is a significant leap forward for Renault, with a neat layout, using plenty of soft-touch plastics. It feels considerably better built than its predecessor. There are some quirks, however, with a large digital speedometer dominating the instrument cluster, an electric hand brake and a stop-start button and keycard instead of the usual key-operated ignition. The latest facelift doesn’t change the interior layout dramatically, but there are two new leather packs. GT-Line TomTom models benefit from a sports steering wheel, upholstery stitching, aluminium door sills and a dashboard trim strip.
How practical is it?
Rear space is poor. Both the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf offer considerably more room. The boot is well shaped and can accommodate up to 405 litres with the seats raised. This is similar to the Peugeot 308, but doesn’t quite match the voluminous Honda Civic. Seat comfort is good, with plenty of support and a decent amount of padding. The steering wheel adjusts for both reach and rake.
What's it like to drive?
The Megane rides comfortably and handles well, but a little more feel from the steering would improve things. It’s a comfortable car to drive on the motorway, with well-muted engines at cruising speeds and only a slight hint of wind noise.
How powerful is it?
There are a number of petrol and diesel engines on offer, ranging from 90 to 160bhp. Diesel versions are impressively quiet and popular for their economy, and with either 90, 110, 130 or 160bhp there is certainly something for everyone. The 110bhp is the best all-rounder and is available with stop and start and the option of an automatic gearbox. The top diesel offers impressive punch, but commands a price premium. The entry-level 1.6-litre petrol engine (110bhp) is feeling its age, much better is the 1.2-litre turbocharged TCe petrol with 115bhp. It might be small, but it offers smooth and quiet acceleration, getting the Megane from nought to 62mph in 10.9 seconds.
How much will it cost me?
Renault takes economy and running costs very seriously indeed, and its latest 1.2-litre TCe petrol is impressive, with CO2 emissions of 119g/km and combined economy of 53.3mpg. A big improvement over the 1.6-litre (40.9mpg and 159g/km). Best economy goes to the 110bhp diesel stop and start, with 80.7mpg and just 90g/km of CO2. The 2012 facelift is the first Megane to benefit from the Renault 4+ programme, which includes four years/48,000 miles free servicing.
How reliable is it?
Renault has often performed poorly in reliability studies. However the company has been making major strides and the Megane feels solidly constructed. The Renault 4+ package includes a four-year/100,000 mile warranty and four years roadside cover for added peace of mind.
How safe is it?
The Megane scored a solid five-star safety result when it was crash tested by EuroNCAP. All models come with driver, passenger, side and head airbags, as well as Isofix child safety seat mountings, electronic stability programme, traction control and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist.
How much equipment do I get?
Five trim levels are available. Every model features air-con, CD player, cruise control, electric and heated mirrors, remote central locking, electric front windows, trip computer and key card. Top-spec GT models feature 18-inch alloy wheels, power folding mirrors, sports suspension, rear parking sensors, sports seats, sports bumpers, aluminium pedals and a sports leather steering wheel.
The Megane’s blend of comfort, frugal engines, exceptional safety and decent equipment mark it out as a good all-rounder, providing the lack of rear seat space doesn’t put you off.