Review

Renault Megane hatchback

Price  £16,750 - £23,245

Renault Megane hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Good value for money
  • Comfortable to drive
  • Excellent build quality
Cons
  • Plain styling
  • Cramped rear seats
  • Less fun to drive than rivals

At a glance

The greenest
Expression+ Energy dCi 110 S/S eco2 5dr £18,245
The cheapest
Expression+ 1.6 110 5dr £16,750
The fastest
GT 220 S/S 5dr £23,245
Top of the range
GT 220 S/S 5dr £23,245

"The Renault Megane is a decent all-round family car, offering style, quality and reliability in equal measure."

The Renault Megane competes in the family hatchback class with cars such as the Ford Focus and the Volkswagen Golf. However, the standard Megane is not as much fun to drive as the Ford or as well built as the Volkswagen. For that, you need the fast Renaultsport Megane.

Buyers can choose between a five-door hatchback, a sporty three-door coupe and the Megane Sport Tourer estate. The revised model (introduced in 2013) bought a more upmarket dashboard and styling tweaks that give the Megane the same family face as the Renault Clio and Renault Captur.

Buyers can choose from two petrol and two diesel engines. The basic diesel can return fuel economy of more than 80mpg, but the hi-tech 1.2-litre petrol is also surprisingly economical, smooth, and quick.

Trim levels include Expression+, Dynamique TomTom, and GT Line TomTom. All modes have air-conditioning, cruise control, a Bluetooth phone connection and alloy wheels.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.2 / 5

All engines offer strong performance and economy, but the diesels really shine

The cheapest Renault Megane to run is the 1.5-litre diesel. It can return fuel economy of 80.7mpg (when fitted with stop-start technology) and has CO2 emissions of just 90g/km for free road tax. The more powerful 1.6-litre diesel claims fuel economy of 70.6mpg, while road tax is just £20 a year.

The best petrol engine is the 1.2-litre. It can return fuel economy of 53.3mpg and low CO2 emissions mean it'll cost just £30 a year to tax. By comparison, the old-fashioned 1.6-litre petrol can only return fuel economy of 40.9mpg and emissions of 159g/km for pricey road tax of £180.

Insurance for all five-door Meganes should be cheap and ranges from group 13 for the 1.6-litre petrol to group 17 for the 1.6-litre diesel. All new Renaults come with a five-year/100,000-mile warranty and if you buy the car through Renault’s own finance arm, it also comes with the Renault 4+ pack. Worth up to £1,000, this includes four years of roadside assistance and four years of free servicing.

Engines, drive & performance

4 / 5

Megane has decent handling and is pretty comfortable

The Megane is enjoyable to drive, thanks to accurate steering and plenty of grip in the corners. However, basic models aren’t as fun to drive as the GT version, which comes with sport suspension.

Nonetheless, the lack of a powerful Renaultsport version means none of the five-door Meganes is quick. The basic 1.6-litre petrol can get from 0-62mph in 10.5 seconds, while the more hi-tech 1.2-litre TCE petrol is actually slightly slower, taking 10.9 seconds. The TCe 130 is usefully quicker, taking 9.7 seconds to do the same sprint.

The diesel models are quite slow – the 1.5-litre version can only manage 0-62mph in 12.3 seconds. The fastest model of all is the 1.6-litre diesel, which can do 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds.

An automated manual gearbox can be fitted to the 1.5-litre diesel and the 1.2-litre petrol, but it's slow to operate and not as much fun to use as the manual, so only choose it if you have to.

Interior & comfort

3.2 / 5

The Megane is comfortable to drive, but space in the back is a little cramped

As part of the 2013 facelift, Renault tried to improve the interior of the Megane. It looks smart enough, but ultimately it's not as well built as the Volkswagen Golf’s. Getting comfortable is easy thanks to a steering wheel that adjusts for rake and reach, and a drivers seat that can be fine-tuned for height.

Visibility in the Megane is mostly good, but seeing out the back window can be tricky. You can get around this by choosing the GT model, which has rear parking sensors as standard.

Renault has given the Megane a soft suspension setup and it does a good job of smoothing out bumps in the road. That’s not true for the GT model, however, as it gets stiffer suspension for a sportier drive.

Practicality & boot space

3.3 / 5

Megane's practicality falls behind the Honda Civic and Skoda Octavia

The Renault Megane hatchback has a 405-litre boot, which is bigger than what you get in the Volkswagen Golf (380 litres) and Ford Focus (316 litres), although it's outdone by the Honda Civic (477 litres) and the Skoda Octavia (590 litres). If you need more space, you could always go for the Renault Megane Sport Tourer estate, which has a 524-litre boot.

The Megane’s boot also features a 33-litre hidden storage area under the boot floor. Folding the back seats flat frees up the maximum capacity of 1,162 litres. The seats fold almost completely flat, however there is a slight boot lip that you have to lift heavy items over.

While passenger space in the front of the Megane is fine, the same can’t be said for the back seat, where six-footers will feel cramped. Extra storage spaces are also thin on the ground and the car’s glovebox is small. Plus, bottles placed in the cup-holders get in the way of the stereo controls.

Reliability & safety

2.2 / 5

Megane isn't as safe as it used to be

Unfortunately for Renault, the Megane suffered a shocking slide to drop from 20th to 92nd place in our Driver Power 2014 survey and little has changed in the facelifted car. It scored poorly in numerous areas including build quality, ease of driving and seat comfort. Certainly the Renault’s interior uses poorer quality plastics than the Volkswagen Golf and Mazda3.

Modern Renaults are usually very safe, but the Renault takes a beating here as well. It has just been downgraded from five stars to three stars by Euro NCAP, although a few simple changes should it bumped back up to four stars before long. The Megane has six airbags and electronic stability control as standard. Renault also offers the Vision Pack, which offers a rear parking camera for £600.

Price, value for money & options

3.6 / 5

Equipment is generous, but Megane loses its value quicker than rivals

All Renault Meganes are very well equipped. Even the basic Expression+ model has air-conditioning, a Bluetooth phone connection, 16-inch alloy wheels and cruise control. The Dynamique TomTom model adds climate control, sat nav as well as automatic headlights and wipers. Top-of-the-range GT Line TomTom models have rear parking sensors, a sporty bodykit and an upgraded stereo.

If you decide to buy a Renault Megane, you should push for a big discount at the dealership. The model is showing its age now and has pretty poor second-hand values when compared to rivals such as the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus.

What the others say

3.2 / 5
based on 3 reviews
3 / 5
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.
3 / 5
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.
3.5 / 5
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.  
Last updated 
25 Mar 2014

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