Renault Mégane Hatch GT
Renault Megane road test
I’ve never really been a fan of white cars because they look bland and quickly get dirty.
But when I took delivery of the Renault Mégane Hatch GT Line finished in striking glacier white, I was swayed.
On driving the five-door hatchback other motorists keep a respectful distance. And then the penny drops, they must think it is a police car and perhaps because I am wearing a blue shirt, it makes them think twice. It really is strange though, no undertaking, cutting me up or taking me on in the way that many motorists love to do when they see a new car on the road.
The third generation Megane is a capable family hatchback, targeting the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra and in comparison to the competition it does have character albeit in a clinical French sort of way. Build quality is strong and the black interior – a combination of cloth seats and black plastic – does the job well as you can see by my video at testdrives.biz. There’s plenty of room in the back. And there’s a TomTom sat nav fitted as standard for those geographically challenged motorists such as myself.
Its six speed manual gearbox is a pleasure to use but the vehicle feels as if it is a 1.6 rather than a plucky 2-litre – I’ve had to check the spec three times to be certain. Renault has done away with the traditional handbrake replacing it with a switch, in common with many other manufacturers. That’s all very well but hill starts always bother me in these cars as faffing about with the handbrake switch is not as quick as a standard handbrake and I always get confused whether I should push it down or pull it up - although I shouldn’t it is very simply. What does this say about me? Then there’s the time it takes to engage and disengage. If the handbrake switch isn’t used the driver has to be quick with the clutch and accelerator or risk rolling back into the inevitable vehicle behind.
Equipped with a simple to use cruise control, this petrol Megane returns over 50mpg or more than 500 miles on a tank. The trouble with the cruise control is that it only works reliably on the flat. I set it to 29mph going down a hill with a speed camera at the bottom and it actually reaches 41mph before I have to intervene. It doesn’t cut through the wind as well as some cars do – admittedly it is tested on a particularly windy day.
Parkers, the car experts, say: “Renault caused a real stir when it launched the 2002 Megane with its angular styling and distinctive rear. This new Renault Megane is a huge improvement in terms of interior quality, ride and handling but sadly it lacks the same styling flair and looks conventional as a result. The good news is that it is far better to drive, thanks to an advanced steering system, plus there’s more room inside. The new Megane is now 8kg lighter than its predecessor, even though it’s 10cm longer. Aerodynamics have been improved and, as a result, CO2 emissions have been reduced by between two and 10g/km, while fuel economy has improved by between 0.9 and 4.2 mpg. Around 12 per cent of the plastics used in the Megane’s construction – an average of 22kg – are sourced from recycled materials. The Megane also has a fully galvanised engine sub-frame and wax-injected hollow sections which means all models are sold with a 12-year anti-corrosion warranty.”
Renault has risen to the challenge set by demanding motorists and produced a good all round family car. Certainly worth considering.
Renault Mégane Hatch GT Line TomTom TCe 115 Stop & Start
Top speed: 118mph
Economy: 53.3mpg (combined)
Watch the video at: testdrives.biz
Tim Saunders is the former Business and Motoring Editor of the Bournemouth Echo in the UK.