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Renault Megane

Megane hatch and convertible range

Renault logo1 Nov 2010

By MIKE COSTELLO

Renault introduced its Megane hatch and coupe-cabriolet range in November 2010, replacing its oddball 2006 predecessor with more mainstream styling and pricing.

Launched simultaneously with the Fluence sedan (the replacement for the Megane sedan), it marked a renewed assault on the sales charts by the floundering (at least in Australia) French car-maker.

The build quality of the 2010 model was a big improvement on some of the companies previous fare, while the car was also well specified, safe and had a good ride/ handling balance. The big downside was the relatively weak 2.0-litre engine, which delivered 102kW and 195Nm, achieved at a rather high 3750rpm. What this means in practice was that the engine did not operate optimally in normal driving conditions.

The entry-level Dynamique, priced from $22,990, offered safety equipment like ESP, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist, six airbags and the Renault System for Restraint and Protection which takes into account both impact force and the build of occupants. The front of the car was also designed to reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians in the event of impact.

Automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control with speed-limiter, foglights, Renault’s Smart Card, height and lumbar adjustments for the driver’s seat, air-conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, four-speaker audio with two tweeters, CD/MP3, steering wheel controls and 16-inch alloys were also all standard. The cloth trim was of good quality.

The CVT $29,990 Privilege addeed an electric glass sunroof, rear parking sensors, smart black leather trim, similar seat adjustability for the front passenger, a leather-bound wheel and gearknob, dual-zone climate-control, neatly integrated satnav, 3D sound, a rear centre console with cup-holders and vents, heated folding mirrors and 17-inch alloys.

Space for rear passengers was generous. There were three lap-sash belts, each of which could be worn by an adult over quite reasonable distances without discomfort. The Megane boasted strong environmental credentials. Some 22kg of its plastics – almost 12 per cent – were sourced from recycled material and at the end of its useful life 95 per cent of its weight will, in turn, be recyclable.

With more weight and the same underpowered 2.0-litre engine, the Megane CC cabriolet - priced from $45,990 - was very leisurely for a car with sporting pretensions.

It did, however, have a fantastic folding steel-hardtop, comprised of two glass panels that folded into a ‘V’ as the unit was retracted into the boot. Developed by global cabriolet roof specialist Karmann, which manufactured the whole mechanism in Germany and delivered the roofs to the Renault plant in northern France, it folded in only 21 seconds.

The rip-snorting RS250 hot hatch rectified the engine issues that were found in the rest of the range. Its 184kW, 340Nm 2.0-litre turbo was one of the best around, and a worthy adversary for the VW Golf GTi. 0-100km/h came in 6.1 seconds.

At the time of launch at the end of 2010, we raved about the sensational performance, handling, grip, body control and braking striking coupe styling, hatchback versatility, engine tractability, relative scarcity compared to ubiquitous Golf GTI.

In October 2011 Renault added a 82kW/240Nm 1.5-litre diesel engine choice to the five-door hatch line-up, available in Dynamique and Privilege trim and paired exclusively with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Fuel consumption on the Megane diesel was rated at 4.5 litres per 100km on the combined cycle, while CO2 emissions are 117g/km

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