Renault Megane hatchback
Price £16,750 - £23,245
- Good value for money
- Comfortable to drive
- Excellent build quality
- Plain styling
- Cramped rear seats
- Less fun to drive than rivals
At a glance
"The Renault Megane is a decent all-round family car offering style, quality and reliability in equal measure."
The Renault Megane is a family hatchback and a rival to the likes of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. There is a standard five-door version, plus a three-door Renault Megane Coupe, a more practical Renault Megane Sports Tourer estate and a four-seater Renault Megane coupe-cabriolet convertible. This is the third generation of the Renault Megane, and the build quality of this model is better than anything Renault has previously produced.
There is a choice of two petrol engines and two diesel engines, with the diesel units – called dCi – offering the best mix of speed and fuel efficiency. Renault gave the Megane a facelift at the end of 2013 in order to give the hatchback the firm's new “family face” – in other words, the designers gave it a front-end design similar to the one on the Renault Clio and Renault Captur models.
The update doesn’t quite disguise the fact that the Megane is getting on a bit, though, and rivals like the SEAT Leon and Ford Focus look more modern and stylish. The Renault is showing its age on the inside, too – it features dull-looking grey plastics and a fiddly stereo, while the built-in sat-nav on TomTom spec models feel a little cheap and crude compared to the systems on rival cars. Trim levels include the Dynamique, Expression, and GT Line.
It's still good to drive, though, and it's competitively priced, with Renault also offering the excellent 4+ aftersales package, which consists of four-years of warranty, roadside assistance, and servicing – a deal that makes the Megane excellent value for money.
MPG, running costs & CO2
All engines offer strong performance and economy, but the diesels really shine
There is a choice of four engines with the Renault Megane hatchback – 1.2-litre and 1.4-litre TCe petrol units, and 1.5-litre and 1.6-litre dCi diesels. All offer decent speed and fuel efficiency but the 1.2-litre petrol and the 1.6-litre diesel offer the best blend of performance and economy. The former manages 53.3mpg and emits 119g/km of CO2, while the diesel will do 70.6mpg and emit 104g/km. The diesel is also available as an ECO version which improves those figures to a seriously impressive 80.7mpg and 90g/km – making this model exempt from road tax.
Expect to take a hit on depreciation, though, as the Megane won’t hold its value as well as rivals like the Volkswagen Golf. If you’re planning on switching cars in three to four years, make sure you investigate used prices thoroughly, or else you could be in for a nasty surprise. If you’re expecting to hang on to the car for the long term, this isn’t such an important factor.
Interior & comfort
The Megane is comfortable to drive, but space in the back is a little cramped
The suspension in the Megane is set up to provide a comfortable drive, so the Renault will glide nicely over the majority of bumps and potholes you’ll encounter – with drivers who do a lot of long-distance journeys finding this a particularly desirable characteristic. The only exception is the top-of-the-range GT model, which has a stiffer suspension to give it sportier handling and more grip. It improves performance but it makes for a rough ride over bumpy surfaces.
Interior quality isn’t quite a match for rivals like the Volkswagen Golf, SEAT Leon and Ford Focus, but it's still decent, while space in the rear is a little cramped, too. It will fit three adults in the back, but taller passengers are going to find leg and headroom to be a little on the tight side thanks to the sloping roofline. This design feature also compromises the view out of the rear windscreen, which makes reversing and parking trickier than it needs to be.
Practicality & boot space
Interior practicality is a long way behind the Honda Civic and Skoda Octavia
When it comes to practicality, the Renault Megane is distinctly average. Its 405-litre boot is bigger than some rivals – the Ford Focus, for example, has just 316-litres – but it's a long way behind the class leaders. The Honda Civic has 477 litres, while the Skoda Octavia has an incredible 590 litres, though the Megane's boot is still very usable thanks to its square shape. There's also an extra 33-litres hidden under the boot floor, and the back seats fold almost completely flat, which expands the load area to 1,162 litres. So unless you’re regularly carrying large loads, the Megane should be perfectly adequate.
Unfortunately, the designers haven’t made the most of the car's interior space, and the glovebox looks big but it actually offers very little space. There's also only one cup holder, located in front of the stereo – getting in the way of the controls when you use it.
Reliability & safety
Safe as ever plus vastly improved reliability
Traditionally, Renault has had a poor reputation for reliability compared to some rival manufacturers. However, the Megane marked a huge step-up in the quality of Renault's cars, and reliability has improved as a result. And that has translated into big improvements in performance in the Driver Power customer satisfaction survey results. In the 2013 league table, Renault came 21st and was one of the most improved brands of the year. The Megane, meanwhile, came 20th in the top 100 cars – one of the highest rankings for a Renault in years, praised for its low running costs, strong performance and high equipment levels.
Safety has always been one of Renault's selling points, and the Megane was originally awarded a full five-star safety rating in the Euro NCAP crash tests. Since then the car has been downgraded to three stars, making it among the lowest rated cars of its type. Failure for the car to warn the driver sufficiently if the rear seatbelts aren't being used by rear passengers was singled out for criticism. Euro NCAP said that with improvements to this system, the car could score four stars.
The Megane comes with an array of airbags and the innovative Visio System which uses a camera to scan the road ahead at night and automatically adjust the power of the headlights to suit the conditions.
Engines, drive & performance
Decent handling and comfort levels make the Megane a great motorway cruiser
The Megane is a capable car, with accurate handling and plenty of grip. It also offers a comfortable ride and the driver and passengers are well insulated from engine, wind and road noise – which makes the Megane relaxing to drive.
Keener drivers will need to look to the top-of-the-range GT model, which features stiffer suspension for sharper handling, or the high-performance Renaultsport Megane, which is one of the best hot hatchbacks around. Unfortunately the other models in the Megane hatchback range are not particularly engaging to drive – the handling isn’t responsive enough to offer much in the way of thrills and the entry-level engines are a little underpowered.
The automatic gearbox is available on both the dCi 110 diesel and TCe 130 petrol engine. The Megane excels on long motorway journeys, when its high level of comfort and strong fuel economy is most apparent.
Price, value for money & options
Equipment levels are good, but used values don’t hold up well
The Renault Megane offers good value for money. Prices dropped by £1,200 with the introduction of the facelifted model towards the end of 2013, and Renault has scrapped the old entry-level model making the well-equipped Expression spec model the cheapest in the range.
All models get alloy wheels, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and LED daytime running lights as standard, while Renault Megane Dynamique models also get automatic dual-zone climate control and built-in sat-nav. On top of this, GT Line models get a sporty-looking bodykit and unique 18-inch alloys.
It's worth noting that the Renault 4+ aftersales package offers four-years’ warranty, servicing and breakdown cover, too. Unfortunately, Renault's resale values aren’t as strong as competitors and depreciation is likely to hit the Megane hard.
What the others say
Renault caused a real stir when it launched the 2002 Megane with its angular styling and distinctive rear. Its replacement 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, plus there's more room inside. There's a good choice of engines too, including several that emit less than 120g/km of CO2 and can average 63mpg.
The latest Renault Megane hatchback is competent in every area – it’s comfortable, drives well, looks good and feels well built. Yet the outgoing car’s trump card – its unique look – has gone. And the next Mégane can’t match the quality of the Golf MkVI, nor the driving experience of the Ford Focus. The forthcoming Coupé will add a touch of visual flair, but only time will tell if the Mégane can excel against some very tough opposition. It’s close to the best, but it’s not the class leader.
The Megane is keenly priced and has plenty of equipment. It handles well and is available with some fine engines, including some particularly clean and economical diesel units. The Megane isn't as classy or as good to drive as a VW Golf, and it can't match the best for ride comfort, either. Rear-seat head- and legroom are poor, too.