Renault has been building the Megane since 1995. The three- and five-door car that is now in its third generation, while not excelling in one particular area, does offer customers a decent all-round car. The car is available in hatchback, saloon, coupe, convertible, and estate.
The notorious quirky French design has been tamed down for the third-generation Megane, giving it a more respectable, conservative feel that could appeal to a broader audience. Stylistically, it still holds its own, but perhaps lacks some of the grace and vibrancy of the coupe and ST estate models.
It has been designed with clean, smooth lines and a nicely rounded front end, with a small grille and larger air dam below. The headlight cluster is a uniquely Renault shape that wraps around the front wing. The steeply reclined windscreen then rapidly drops away to a small rear hatch, with similarly styled rear lights and a rounded backend that echoes the bonnet.
The design has come a long way from the pinched-nose version with a round roofline that was first released. The current model looks more conservative but also more complete. The vehicle was given a facelift in 1999 with a new grille and again in 2002 when a fuller model II was released.
There were still more facelifts in 2006 when the grille was changed once more, and with the launch of the third generation, the Megane received its current nose job.
The entry-level engines, 1.6L petrol and the 1.5L Cdi, initially designed for the Renault Clio, are a little on the sluggish side with the extra weight. The larger engines like the 1.6L and the 2.0L petrol engines do cope better. Those looking for a little more power under the bonnet should consider the 2.0L turbocharge, which offers either 96kW and 320Nm or the more powerful 2.0L dCi kicking out 18kW and 80Nm.
Its green credentials are pretty good too, averaging around 159g/km on CO2 emissions. The range has a wide selection of greener diesel engines, and for the eco-conscious, the 1.5L is probably one of the best Renault offers, going from 0-100km/h in 11.1 seconds. Fuel consumption is also reasonable with hot hatch RS engines producing an average of 10.7L/100km.
On the road, the Megane performs well enough, with firm suspension, good road grip around corners, and responsive steering. It could perhaps do with a little more soundproofing to dampen down the wind and road noise while on motorway trips, as these can be quite distracting. However, for normal day-to-day city use, it makes for a peaceful and pleasant drive.
On the positive side, even the entry-level model has lots to offer. The basic Expression models come equipped with air-conditioning, Bluetooth, USB sockets, and nice, shiny alloy wheels as standard. The high-quality Dynamique Tom Tom includes automatic acclimatised lights, wipers, and satnav. The top-level GT models go even further with parking cameras, comfortable duel zone climate controls, and impressive 18-inch anthracite alloy wheels.
Renault has a good reputation for manufacturing safe and secure cars. The Megane is very much in this mould and not surprisingly a recipient of the ANCAP five-star safety rating. It has airbags fitted at the front and side with curtain bags as standard, as is the stability control system.
Renault have fitted some outstanding security features, including a keyless entry system, deadlocks, and the excellent Thatcham approved immobiliser, as well as their own RAID, Renault Anti-Intruder Device.
The Renault Megane is an adaptable family car designed to compete alongside the Ford Focus, Audi A3, Holden, and Volkswagen Golf. Renault has added to the basic entry-level model and provides the buyer with oodles of free extras and tempting gadgets as standard.
Pound for pound, the Renault Megane Hatchback is a good buy. It is a good, steady, reliable car. You will find a car that looks good, drives well, and will not break the bank when compared with the Ford Focus, Honda CF-Z, VW Golf, and VW Scirocco. For sheer speed and road-handling qualifications, the Megane finds itself on the same page as the very competitive Subaru WRX, Mini Cooper, and Alfa 147 GTA. This makes for a solid line-up in which the Megane manages to hold its own.
The Megane scores high on its running costs, insurance classification, and safety and security features. It has a distinctive French look about it, and even the entry-level car comes well equipped, has a large boot space, and is great for motorway driving.