Civilized, comfortable and great to look at

What is it?

The new Renault Megane Coupe – a return to this market segment after an absence of five years. Renault launched the first Megane Coupe in 1996, which became Britain’s best-selling entry-level coupe for five years running.

Otherwise all-new, the Renault Megane Coupe is largely based on the platform of the Megane 2, though it gets significant modifications, including a re-designed rear beam axle, a new, more rigidly located front subframe and new electric power steering set-up.

The Renault Megane Coupe test car was powered by a 178bhp 2.0-litre petrol turbo unit, fitted with a twin-scroll turbocharger and a continuously variable inlet camshaft and driving a six-speed manual box.

What’s it like?

There’s no doubt the Renault Megane Coupe is a fine-looking machine, combining visual drama, an impressive, wide-track stance and more than a hint of Germanic solidity. It sits 43mm lower than the hatch, including 12mm lower suspension.

Inside, the cabin is wide and the footwells are broad and uncluttered, the pedals excellently placed – in left-hand drive at least. Even the headroom was good, even though this car was fitted with the glass roof panel.

The dashboard design is restrained and it gets a raft of nicely finished and weighted Laguna switchgear and well-planned storage space. Perhaps the only wild thing about the interior of the Renault Megane Coupe is the prominent LCD speedo.

The rear of the cabin is snug, but not impossibly small for adults and the boot under the huge hatchback is very deep and looks entirely capable of taking luggage for four. However, the dramatically sloping rear and small side windows, mean the rear three-quarter view is very limited.

For all its fire-breathing exterior design, the Megane Coupe is a very civilized machine. The 178bhp engine is quiet and smooth at lower revs, with the torque building from just 1200rpm.

The clutch action is superb and the ‘box is clean shifting, even if the throw is a little long. At 70mph on the motorway, the Coupe is impressively smooth and quiet, with muscular overtaking power instantly on tap.

Drop a couple of gears and extend the car, however, and the engine becomes very boomy. The driver may as well give up at 4500rpm, because the engine hasn’t much more to offer. It’s better to find a higher gear and use the low-end torque.

On mountain roads it proved highly capable, resisting roll very well – while retaining a good ride at speed – and was easy to place on the road. Understeer is hardly noticeable, even when driving pretty briskly. The steering is much improved over the old Megane, though it is still a little light for the first fifth of a turn.

Should I buy one?

The final judgment on the chassis of the Renault Megane Coupe will have to wait for UK roads, but this is a very likeable machine.

It’s stylish, comfortable and well specced - though the rear parking sensors are a must, and the glass roof and upgraded stereo also worth choosing. It’s also surprisingly practical, brisk and refined unless the engine is extended.

A hard-core Renault Sport version of the Coupe is already under test, so it will eventually get the dynamics to match the dramatic looks.

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Bobafari 4 November 2008

Re: Renault Megane Coupe 2.0 TCe 180

kerrecoe wrote:
Helluvalot better looking than the Laguna Coupe.

I'll second that - I especially like the Evora-esque way the side glass meets the rear window - a world away from "thunder thighs" (bless). I'm not so sure about the silver sideburns on the front bumper though, but the fact that it's based on the old model bodes well for the RS version. Qaife/Torsen diff? Yes please!

kerrecoe 4 November 2008

Re: Renault Megane Coupe 2.0 TCe 180

Well, in that case...

Helluva good looking 3 door hatchback :-)

ESP deactivated 4 November 2008

Re: Renault Megane Coupe 2.0 TCe 180

Is it really a coupe though? Surely it's just the three-door version of the hatchback, destined to be sold in basey trim for £9995 from a car supersite near you before the end of next month...