What is it?
This is Renault’s C-segment contender, the third generation Megane hatcback.
No surprises so far, but we drive it here fitted for the first time with the TCe 130 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine. We’ve already sampled the 128bhp, 140lb ft unit in the new Grand Scenic, where it impressed us with its effective, efficient combination of performance and economy.
It should fare even better in the smaller, lighter Megane.
What’s it like?
Talking purely in terms of the new engine, it’s really rather good.
Renault claims that the downsized, 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol motor has the power of a 1.8-litre engine and the torque of a 2.0-litre. As bold as those claims might sound, in practice it’s a refined, brisk and lively performer, and surprisingly flexible, too.
Useful torque isn’t an attribute one would historically associate with smaller capacity petrol engines, but that’s progress for you. Around town it’s particularly lively, and on the open road is a satisfying engine to get the best out of. And all this comes with a combined economy figure of 43.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 156g/km.
The rest of the Megane is now familiar territory. The Megane handles well and the ride is mostly good, although somewhere shy of the class leaders and their fully independent rear suspension set-ups.
The steering, however, will split opinion. Some will like its feather-lightness; those looking for a more involving drive will bemoan the lack of feel and communication on offer.
In upper-middle class Dynamique trim the cabin is comfortable and well-equipped, with a decent driving position and largely well-executed controls.
Our test car was also fitted with the new TomTom-developed integrated sat-nav system, which is being rolled out as an option across Renault’s range. At £450 it’s more than £1000 cheaper than the integrated system that was previously an option in the Megane. A bargain.
Should I buy one?
Possibly. In a class led by the Focus and Golf, anything less than exemplary can appear somewhat mediocre, but the frugal, sparky TCe motor injects a playful edge into the Megane package.
Whether that’s enough to tempt buyers away from the dynamically superior Ford or VW is arguable, but this smaller petrol-engined option has raised the Megane’s game.