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Car reviews - Renault - Megane - range

Launch Story

Renault logo6 Jul 2006

By CHRIS HARRIS

MORE safety, increased refinement and sharper steering are the hallmarks of the Renault Megane small car’s first facelift, the Phase II.

The French are also targeting Ford’s sell-out Focus XR5 Turbo with a new base Megane turbo sporting three doors, 165kW and $37,990 pricing.

However the highly anticipated Megane turbo-diesel engined models will not arrive before the first quarter of 2007.

On sale this week, the X84 Megane Phase II adopts stability control across the range as standard, worth around $1000.

A more precise electric power steering system, previously reserved for last year’s racy Megane Sport Cup, has also been fitted to all cars.

It features a ‘tube-in-tube’ link that slides between two steering column shafts for improved feedback and better filtering out of road vibrations.

Across the range, visual changes are limited to a new grille, air intake and bumpers, revised tail-light covers (they’re now translucent), and redesigned hubcaps and alloy wheels.

Different instrumentation and display markings and a move to more opulent-looking (and feeling) trim help to freshen up the interior.

Functionality gains include better wipers, improved rain and light sensors, and standard reverse parking sensors on the Privilege sedan and Coupe-Cabriolet convertible.

The latter also scores new active rollbars incorporated in the back headrests. Replacing the old fixed units, they spring into place in milliseconds when a roll over is imminent.

With 12 models over four body styles (three and five-door hatchback, four-door sedan and two-door convertible), there are now only half as many models to choose from than before.

Prices begin at $25,490 for the Authentique manual five-door hatch (a $500 rise), powered by the continuing 1.6-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder K4M engine producing 83kW of power at 6000rpm and 152Nm of torque at 4200rpm.

With the automatic gone, the 1.6-litre Megane is now a five-speed manual-only model.

Next up comes the new $29,990 Expression five-door hatchback, powered by the existing 2.0-litre twin-cam 16-valve four-cylinder F4R engine offering 98kW at 5500rpm and 191Nm at 3750, and driving the front wheels via a four-speed automatic gearbox only.

The F4R is also found in the ritzier Dynamique five-door hatchback – in $30,990 six-speed manual and $33,490 four-speed automatic guises – as well as the Megane four-door sedan range.

Still sourced from Turkey, the sedan consists of the $28,490 Expression six-speed manual, $30,990 Expression four-speed automatic and $35,990 Privilege four-speed automatic.

Gone is the slow-selling Dynamique LX Sport three-door hatchback, although this body configuration now clothes the new, $37,990 Megane RS (the new name for the old Megane Sport) – available in Australia due to customer demand, according to Renault.

Offering two less doors than before makes the 2.0-litre twin-cam 16-valve turbo-charged four-cylinder engine (delivering 165kW at 5500rpm and 300Nm at 3000rpm) $2000 more affordable.

Similarly, the old Megane Sport moniker has also made way for RS in the continuing five-door turbo variants – $42,490 RS ($500 down on the original Sport’s 2004 launch price but $2500 above a recent promotional offer) and $44,490 RS Cup (up $1500), with the latter boasting bigger wheels, firmer and lower suspension, and sportier trim. The old Sport LX has vanished.

The Megane Phase II range topper continues to be the Coupe-Cabriolet, which at $48,990 and $51,490 for the F4R 2.0-litre engined Dynamique six-speed manual and four-speed automatic respectively, amounts to a $1000 price rise.

Renault is also cashing in on its F1 motor racing success with its mouthful ‘Megane RS 225 F1 Team’ model. It combines the Cup’s dis-connectable stability control, upgraded dampers, Brembo brakes and 18-inch alloys with the three-door body. Only 30 ‘Ultra Blue’ examples are arriving, at $41,990 a piece.

All Megane Phase II models include air-conditioning, CD audio with satellite controls, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control with speed limiter, electric windows, keyless entry, a chilled glovebox, trip computer and see-me-home light-sensing headlights.

Renault says it has rationalised the Megane range to reflect buyer’s preferences.

Around 60 per cent are expected to choose the 2.0-litre automatic models, with the base 1.6-litre Authentique expecting to account for only 10 per cent of sales.

It hopes to sell at least 130 Meganes every month.

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