From £15,920
Smooth looks, smoother power

Our Verdict

Renault Megane

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

11 January 2005

The Megane CC presents sun-lovers with a tricky decision. By far the best engine is the 1.9 diesel – its torque suits the CC’s character better than the 2.0 petrol. Thing is, do fashion-conscious CC owners really want to spoil their image with a diesel clatter?

Renault may have just made the decision easier, as buyers can now opt for a 2.0-litre petrol turbo. Not the 222bhp engine from the RenaultSport Mégane hatch, but a more modest 163bhp unit, offering 30bhp more than the naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre. But it’s the 40 per cent of extra torque that’s more relevant, giving the CC a diesel-chasing 199lb ft.

Renault bills this as the high performance model. While at 8.7sec to 62mph it’s the fastest CC available, ‘high performance’ is a bit strong – ‘swift enough’ would be more appropriate. But the CC has never been about rapid travel: soft suspension, feel-free steering and a hefty kerbweight make it more suited to cruising than hustling.

The 2.0T makes the best of the car – like the diesel there’s enough torque to nip around town and cruise on the motorway, but with sufficient power to make it quick when you need it. In reality it offers as much performance as you will ever need. Any quicker and the car’s limitations (a high centre of gravity and body flex) really start to show.

And it’s a pleasant motor to use – quiet yet with an appealing growl, lag-free and for the most part free-revving, only losing its smoothness towards the upper end of the rev counter. This is a petrol engine designed to perform like a diesel and that’s how you find yourself driving it.

Elsewhere the CC story remains unchanged: stylish looks, an impressive roof mechanism, but compromised interior space. Our test car felt upmarket, partly due to the long list of options fitted, but also because of the neat interior and panoramic glass roof. Red leather may be an acquired taste, but with metal detailing it makes for a special feel.

Mostly the 2.0T matches the diesel for drivability, delivers better performance and wins hands-down for kerbside appeal. So do fashionistas finally get the car they really want? Yes, but at a price. Compared with the 1.9dCi it costs more to buy (£500), more to run (35.7mpg v 54.4mpg), more to insure (four groups higher) and more in company car tax (24 per cent v 18 per cent). Maybe the decision isn’t any easier after all.

Jamie Corstorphine

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