The new Mégane is longer, lower and wider than the outgoing model and as a result is more spacious inside. There’s a 2cm increase in rear knee space, and the boot volume of 434 litres is significantly up on that of rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.
Renault says it has put extra effort into the fit, finish and quality of the materials used. “Renault can produce cars with a Latin skin and a German heart,” said design boss Laurens van den Acker.
Renault has improved the interior quality of standard models, with all but the base models getting a full colour head-up display and a 7.0in multimedia display. As well as lending the cabin a modern feel, the head-up display allows the driver to stay focused on the road while simultaneously reading speed, navigation and driving aid instructions.
UK specifications include adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking, lane departure warning, speed limit warning and blind spot monitoring. Automatic headlights, a reversing camera, parking sensors and a hands-free parking function will also be available.
Highest-spec models get an 8.7in touchscreen in place of the 7.0in version. It replaces numerous cabin buttons and allows the control of the satellite navigation, apps, radio and phone connection.
The Mégane will be available with the option of a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, while selected petrol engines will come with a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.
Q&A with Renault design boss Laurens van den Acker
How hard was it to reinvent the Mégane?
“This segment is the most competitive in the world. We’re going up against the very best - not just the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra but also the Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz A-Class and BMW 1 Series. We know we must up our game.”
How does the new Mégane fit into your range?
“I don’t see it as the big brother of the Clio; rather, it’s a smaller brother of the Talisman and Espace. The Clio is fun, whereas the new Mégane is a serious car. It will have the grown-up touches of the Talisman and Espace.”
What specific demands are there on a designer in this segment?
“It’s a segment where the car must do everything: be spacious enough to fit a family in, yet still look sexy and powerful, albeit in a sober way that conveys a lot of rationality, to underline claims around safety and fuel economy. We must offer every piece of modern technology for a reasonable price. It’s a car that conveys status.”
Can Renault design differently from the rivals you name?
“Well, we don’t come to work every day saying we must celebrate our differences and be provocative. I’m trying to create a brand with stability. But that doesn’t mean we can’t stand out.”