From £15,920
Hugely improved over its predecessor, but lacking character

Our Verdict

Renault Megane

The Renault Megane looks bland, and it's not that good to drive either

Steve Cropley Autocar
3 October 2008
Renault Mégane 1.5 dCi 105 5dr

What is it?

This is the new Renault Megane, the car that Renault hopes will help restore its fortunes in Europe - and that's company boss Carlos Ghosn talking, not just us.

Aimed squarely at the VW Golf and Ford Focus, the Renault Megane has to work if Renault is to preserve its position as one of Europe's biggest car makers.

The Renault is pinning its hopes on this larger, roomier model, which uses a development of the outgoing car's thoroughly decent chassis complete with new bushes and revised suspension rates.

Two versions will be available to begin with, a five-door hatchback and a three-door version with a lower roofline and sportier styling that has been dubbed the Renault Megane Coupe. Rarely has a new model had a more important mission.

What's it like?

The new Renault Megane styling is neat, modern and easy on the eye, though it lacks the outgoing car's distinctive rump and cheery panache.

It blends much more readily into the background than its predecessor; indeed, without the badges you'd be hard pressed to recognise it as a Renault.

On the plus side, the new Renault Megane is plainly bigger than the outgoing car and offers far more space to rear-seat passengers.

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Buyers will be able to choose from a dense (and confusing) range of petrol and diesel engines, but the 1.5-litre dCi 110 we are testing here is likely to be the most popular version, especially as its CO2 emissions fall beneath 120g/km.

The Megane's interior does have a fresh look about it, especially the combined digital-analogue instrument pack, and the colour and cloth trim combinations look lively too.

It's good to see that not all of the car's French design exuberance has been refined away.

The Megane feels roomy, airy and its makers' claim to a heightened sense of quality also seems to be borne out. It certainly feels capable of bearing comparison with the best of its segment rivals.

On the road, the new Renault Megane has a lightness about all its controls - pedals, steering and gearchange - which eludes most of its rivals. It's a pleasant, easy car to drive.

Despite being larger than the old Megane, the new car is about 8kg lighter model-for-model, and allows the punchy diesel engine to deliver decent performance, despite its relatively small capacity.

Handling is neat, tending to understeer at the limit. The steering effort builds up a little as cornering speeds rise, but always retains impressive authority while retaining its lightness.

There's a little more body roll than others in the class allow, but nothing untoward.

On unfamiliar roads, the ride quality seems a little more relaxed than the competition, too, and road and wind noise seem to strike the class average.

In sum, this feels a decent car that offers gentle progress from its more characterful predecessor, but it's certainly not a revolutionary segment-shaker.

Should I buy one?

That depends on three things. Firstly, the deal, which has to be competitive against rival models. Secondly, residual values, a weakness of the previous generation car. And thirdly, whether you like your car with light controls.

The Megane feels quite different from the segment's profusion of firmly sprung, heavy-steering German-influenced models, which makes a nice change.

As a car that stresses comfort, in a sea of faux-sportiness, it deserves to find a band of loyal buyers.

Join the debate


6 October 2008

Okay, it's competent but it's oh so bland.

I really can't see this being a hit with the UK buying public and all it is going to do is melt in to the back ground, much like its bigger Laguna brother.

I don't doubt it will sell to a loyal band of Renault lovers and if the package is right in fleet sales but second hand values could be potentially worse than the car it replaces.

Summary: Must try harder Renault.

6 October 2008

Not sure what you do these days mr Crop, but at least you read the press blurbs they give you guys at the shows- when your chowing down on the car show buffet. Why are you feeding your readers mis-information; the new Megane is based on the old one? Really?

Or is it based on a Nissan?

6 October 2008

[quote jl4069]

the new Megane is based on the old one? Really?

Or is it based on a Nissan?


Strictly both is true. As I remember, this is floor pan is jointly developed and used on both Renault and Nissan models.

6 October 2008

" Strictly both is true." Not sure what "strictly" means.

The Megane was launched in 1995, 5 years before Renault ever did a bit of business with Nissan. And the Megane II is based on the I- all of which are based on the old 19. Do you have some sort of information that tells us that Nissan based one of their post 2000 cars on this old Renault chassis?

6 October 2008

This review is a bit rubbish isn't it? So this new Megane is somehow the most important new renault ever is it? Do me a favour! Only motoring journalists come up with this c**p and they say it about everything that is ever released. The new Fiesta was the most important Ford ever released, the new Corsa was the most important new Vauxhall ever released, the new Insignia, Clio, XF, yada yada yada....

It's just lazy journalism and it's boring.

As for saying that if you took the renault diamond off you wouldn't know it was a renault? Taken too many bu**sh*t pills Mr Cropley? This thing is so specifically ugly it couldn't be anything other than the Laguna's little brother or the fat ar*e CLio's big brother. Ugly seems to be the new beautiful these days. I'm getting old- in my day they used to make cars as good looking as possible, now you have to make small children vomit and milk curdle before you've got a finished car design on your hands.

Rant over......

6 October 2008

" It's just lazy journalism and it's boring."

And I thought they were lazy just simply because they never seem to write anything of any depth.

I think Suttcliff has potential, his recent Isle of Man piece while poorly written, showed a man driving the crap out of those superscars.-- something most don't do anymore.


6 October 2008

If memory serves the Megane mk1 was indeed a (thorough) reskin of the 19 but it was developed effectively throughout its life. Megane II was a new platform and that was shared with the Almera. Megane III though is a reworking of the II. With the previous car proving that the platform is adaptable, very safe (NCAP 5 stars), and when Renaultsport gets its hands on it very entertaining - you can't really blame them.

I must have missed the bit about it being 'Renault's most important car ever' but the company's sales are nosediving in W.Europe (50 per cent down in the UK in Sept) so there is genuinely a lot riding on the Megane. I don't think you'd find a Renault employee or dealer who didn't sign up to this view.

6 October 2008

To be honest, I don't think the New Megane is totally lacking in character. Let's face it, there's more character in it than, say, a Focus or Audi A3 or something like that. I think that the drama has shifted from the rear of the old car to the front of the new car. I think Renault made the back of the new one a little bit boring. They could have popped some Laguna-ish LEDs in or something! But yes, I hope it's much more of a success than the Laguna. Seems a shame it's been such a flop for Renault. I just hope they advertise the new Megane cleverly like the old one. The Laguna's advertising campaign was a tad boring, in my opinion, and not very memorable.

6 October 2008

judging from the autocar review this seems to be a very interesting and pleasant new car. as far as the looks are concerned, i think it's currently the best looking car in its segment. well done, renault!

7 October 2008

and if like me you currently own a mk2 megane, you will understand why getting people into the new one will be so hard,and maybe why renault sales declined more than the market in september.

getting the car to run properly is like an eternal quest, it effects all the engines and models in the range, and my friends brand new R26 sounds like it is going to shake and rattle its own interior to bits, and thats only 4 months old!!!!

i just cannot see a reason for spending this amount of money on a brand and a car that has yet to regain trust in its product and in its customer service.

you have to be seriously in love with french cars and their traits to consider this.

and the reason i bought the megane i have?....(but hadnt researched the reliability properly)...because it had great looks, trailblazing safety and was good value.

this is fairly anodyne, especially as a 5 door, i think renault needed something far more special, a class leader no less.


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