With its haphazardly placed displays and multimedia controls and a striking sense of antiquation, the outgoing Mégane’s cabin was in dire need of not just an update but a wholesale overhaul and renewal.
And in several key ways, the new interior is a big improvement. Renault has not cured its every quirk and shortcoming in one fell swoop, so there’s still a mixed story to report here.
But overall, the car can now be considered pleasant, usable and well equipped, although it’s still no standard setter on material quality, practicality or passenger space.
The wheelbase may have grown, but the packaging remains evidently flawed. The shallowness of the front footwells and proximity of the pedals force longer-legged drivers to use more of the car’s overall cabin length than they might normally do just to get comfortable, robbing those in the rear of space, with both foot and knee room remaining tight.
The boot is a good size and has a wide aperture, but its loading lip is high, there is no adjustable-height boot board and the rear seatbacks don’t fold entirely flat.
Cabin quality is good for the most part but still quite poor in a few places. The leather sections of our test car’s seats were soft and tactile, for example, but some of the plastics of its climate control console showed a disappointing finish.
Storage areas and convenience features could also be improved. The door bins lack useful width, its cupholders and centre cubby are both short on depth and the glovebox is the usual half-sized slight on the good nature of anyone buying right-hand drive.
The biggest difference the new cabin shows is on ambition. Whereas the old Mégane’s was plasticky and plain, the new one’s ambient lighting, flat-screen instruments, large, portrait-oriented multimedia screen and chrome trims make it feel more sophisticated.But it’s a shame that none of the display modes for the instruments allows you to have a speedometer and rev counter showing at the same time.
On the equipment front there are six trims to choose from - Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav, Signature Nav, GT Line Nav and GT Nav. The entry-level trim adorns the Megané as standard with 16in alloy wheels, cruise control, front foglights, hill start assist and emergency brake assist as standard on the outside, while inside there is a DAB tuner, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, air conditioning, and electric windows.
Upgrade to the Dynamique Nav trims and the Renault is adorned with auto wipers and lights, electrically adjustable and heated wing mirrors, part leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, an Arkamys audio system, alongside Renault's R-Link 2 infotainment system complete with a 7.0in touchscreen display and TomTom sat nav. While the Dynamique S Nav adds a reversing camera, 17in alloy wheels, and an 8.7in portrait touchscreen display to a burgeoning package.
The Signature Nav models get 18in alloy wheels, leather upholstery and LED headlights, while the GT Line Nav Megané gets an aggressive bodykit and sports seats. The range-topping GT Nav model benefits from all the equipment found on the Signature Nav model plus 4-wheel steering, parking sensors and a Renaultsport tweaked 1.6-litre petrol engine.
The Mégane becomes the first car fitted with Renault’s latest R-Link 2 infotainment system to undergo an Autocar road test. With a display that’s 8.7in from corner to corner and orientated upright and ‘portrait’ rather than the more usual landscape format, it’s operated almost entirely as a touchscreen system.
Navigation, entertainment, climate control and vehicle control centre zones are accessible on the home screen.
It’s certainly a good-sized screen and has ‘pinch to zoom’ functionality, which is intended to make it feel like a tablet or smartphone to use — with some success.
Responsiveness to your fingertip is pretty good, but the navigation mapping detail is a bit sparse and monochromatic and the graphics of the system in general are somewhat basic.
We would also prefer a more accessible console for the climate control system. As it stands, you have to hit quite a small target on the screen for the climate control and it can be difficult to do so while the car is moving.