"Renault's Megane is stylish, and has an improving reputation for quality and reliability."
The five-door Renault Mégane is taller and more practical than the three-door version, and it gets different front and rear end styling to mark it out. Both cars have the same dashboard layout, and the quality of the interior is better than anything Renault has ever built before. It's still not perfect, and details like the fiddly stereo have the ability to frustrate, but the Mégane is a practical and good-value family hatch – especially when you take into account Renault's 4+ aftersales package. This includes a four-year warranty and servicing.
While the three-door Mégane Coupé has stiff suspension, the five-door hatchback is very comfortable, especially on the motorway, with wind, engine and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. The driving position is excellent, too: the pedals, seat and steering wheel all offer a wide range of adjustment. The smaller 1.5-litre dCi 86 diesel and 1.6-litre VVT 100 petrol models feel sluggish, although the remaining engines provide enough power for nippy performance. Unlike its rivals, the VW Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST, the high-performance model – the Renaultsport Mégane – is only available as a three-door.
In general, the Mégane is comfortable, although just how comfortable depends very much on the specification you go for. Low and medium-spec Extreme, Expression and Dynamique cars are set up for comfort and float smoothly over all but the most demanding of road surfaces. The top-of-the-range GT models use the same suspension, but with a different set-up, so they are extremely stiff and uncomfortable in comparison.
Renault's reputation for quality is steadily improving, and that's in part due to the Mégane. It feels like a quality product from the moment you get in – and our sister title Auto Express's Driver Power ownership surveys show that things have improved since the early noughties, with the current-generation Mégane performing much better than previous versions.
There's a 372-litre boot, but the hatchback is no class leader for practicality. It beats the Ford Focus (316 litres) and Volkswagen Golf (350 litres), but it's positively dwarfed by the Honda Civic (485 litres). Thankfully, the five-door's hatch has a wider opening than the three-door Coupé model's.
Value for money
The five-door Mégane hatchback offers good value for money, but it doesn’t hold on to its price as well as the three-door Coupé. All models are well equipped, with air-conditioning standard across the range. As their name suggests, TomTom models come with integrated TomTom satellite navigation as standard.
Renault's entire engine range is relatively frugal, but the best balance of price and performance is found in the 128bhp petrol and diesel engines. They’re powerful enough not to need working hard in everyday driving, so you should get close to their claimed economy figures: 55mpg for the diesel and 42mpg for the quieter petrol. As ever, the diesel brings cheaper Road Tax and company car tax, because it emits less CO2 than the petrol engine.