Car trim reviews

Renault Megane Expression

The Renault Megane Expression is a good car up against excellent rivals. Cheap-to-run diesels and extensive discounts make it worth a look, though.

French cars in the compact hatchback class offer something different to their German, or German-engineered, rivals, and the Renault Megane is no exception. It’s not as good as a Ford Focus to drive (few cars of this size are) and not as plush as a Volkswagen Golf. But it’s not hopelessly outclassed, and if you want something a bit more relaxed and comfortable, it might be the car for you. The over-light steering, which gives you little clue as to what’s happening where the front tyres meet road surface, is the Megane’s worst failing. In its favour, it has some good engines, particularly the 1.5-litre diesels, but the two 1.6-litre petrol options aren’t too bad either. It’s also well priced, especially as you’ll be able to negotiate a big discount. In Expression trim it’s quite well equipped. Air conditioning, an alarm, deadlocks, rear electric windows (in the five-door and Sport Tourer estate versions) and front foglights have been added to the basic spec, which includes heated electric door mirrors, remote locking, a trip computer and electronic stability control.

Good points

Taken in isolation, the Renault Megane is a more-than-acceptable compact hatchback. It is smooth and quiet, the diesel engines deliver strong performance, yet can return more than 60mpg and the lowest rate of company car tax, while the handling is direct, grippy and composed. The Megane is well made and has a stylish interior with a good standard specification in Expression guise, and it has a good safety reputation. Owners certainly seem to rate it highly – it consistently ranks well in satisfaction surveys. It provides good value for money, and there are big discounts – as much as £2,000 if you are a determined haggler – to make it even more of a bargain.

Bad points

It’s not roomy enough, it’s not stylish enough and it loses money heavily, although it’s certainly not alone on that last point in the small hatchback category. Rear seat space is average at best and the boot is comparatively small. And you can reckon on losing around two-thirds of what you spent over three years. On top of that, it’s just not as good to drive as some of the other cars it comes up against. The over-light steering is the weakest point, it’s not as comfortable as a Focus or a Golf, and the entry-level 1.6-litre petrol engine, with 98bhp, is a bit slow.

What you get

  • Alloy wheels
  • Folding rear seats
  • Alarm
  • Passenger & Driver airbag
  • Front side airbags
  • Curtain airbags
  • Front fog lights
  • Manual air conditioning
  • Height adjustable driver's seat
  • Front electric windows
  • Single CD player
  • Rear electric windows

Recommended optional extras

  • Alloy wheels
  • Bluetooth

Our choice

The least powerful of the two 1.5-litre diesels delivers good performance and low running costs, and is available with big discounts.

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