Renault Megane hatchback - Engines, drive & performance
The Renault Megane engines are reasonably powerful, but handling and gearbox not the best
The Renault Megane can be chosen with one of two engines, a diesel and a petrol, while a plug-in hybrid is also offered. The first is the dCi 115 diesel, and there’s also a 138bhp 1.3-litre petrol, badged TCe 140. It’s the petrol model, unsurprisingly, that’s the better of the two to drive and significantly faster too. The TCe 140 accelerates from 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds, while the diesel dCi 115 takes 11.1 seconds.
The 113bhp dCi 115 Megane is pretty good to drive, but it's still not quite as satisfying as a Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf for keen drivers and feels somewhat sluggish. Most rivals offer a version with 148bhp, or even more in the case of the sporty versions, so keeping up with traffic on faster roads can feel like hard work.
Manoeuvrability around town at low speeds is made easy by the light steering, but it also has the effect of robbing much of the feel and feedback rivals like the SEAT Leon offer. Iconic and R.S. Line feature a ‘Multisense’ system, which changes the way the car responds. A Sport mode adds a little weight to the steering but it feels artificial and won't convince keen drivers that it adds much to the driving experience.
Even the sporty, driver-focused GT Line model can’t match the sharpness of some rivals: the SEAT Leon and Mazda3 are both more entertaining along a good stretch of road but the Megane has just enough ability to avoid feeling too wayward.
Renault Megane petrol engines
The petrol engine is a sprightly 138bhp 1.3-litre turbo that suits its six-speed manual gearbox, and accelerates from 0-62mph in 9.4 seconds. A seven-speed automatic gearbox is also available, resulting in a marginally quicker 0-62mph time, but it’s slightly less frugal. Both have a top speed of 127mph.
While its acceleration times are competitive, you do have to work the small engine quite hard to extract performance from it. It's also not the most refined engine; the Volkswagen Golf's 1.5-litre TSI engine is smoother and has a slicker gearshift.
Plug-in hybrid engines
The Megane E-tech blends a 1.6-litre petrol engine with a 64bhp electric motor, resulting in a combined output of 158bhp. It makes a good double-act in town, with the pulling power of the electric motor allowing the Megane to accelerate from a standstill smoothly and fairly quickly, with just a quiet whine. It's complemented by light steering and supple suspension, making the E-Tech a relaxing hatchback for trips around town.
At higher speeds, the Megane still feels like it has just enough pace but its complicated clutchless six-speed automatic transmission sometimes feels caught out, resulting in either a jerk or a brief hiccup in acceleration. The rest of the time, the powertrain feels pretty refined, and its software does a good job of managing the battery, resisting the temptation to just use all the battery power in hybrid mode. Over a two-hour drive, we found the battery just about depleted but it helped the car return over 90mpg along the way.
The diesel is a 1.5-litre with 113bhp. Getting the most out of it involves lots of gear changes, but it has plenty of power, particularly at low revs. Again, there’s an automatic transmission available, which makes sense around town and cuts the acceleration time by 0.2 seconds.