Latest report - Renault Megane long-term test
13 April 2017
Author: Tony Rock
|P11D price £20,995|
|As tested £22,660|
|Official consumption 76.4mpg0 |
4th report - Kept in the dark
The black synthetic leather and cloth upholstery that comes as standard on Renault Meganes in Dynamique S Nav trim makes the cabin feel a bit dark and dingy when you first park your bottom on the driver's seat - particularly as it's combined with the black plastic that, at first glance, seems to be everywhere else.
It's not all doom and gloom inside. As mentioned in the previous report, you get an impressive light show from the coloured LEDs that surround the instrument binnacle, while the central infotainment screen also brightens things up. The flashes of chrome dotted here and there, the pale roof lining and the white stitching on the seats help lighten the mood a bit too. But despite all that it still feels a little too dark in there at first acquaintance.
It must be said, however, that black is, at least, a very practical colour, especially when it comes to hiding the muck that three kids seem capable of depositing (no matter how many times you tell them not to). I'm also sure you'd get used to the monochrome colour scheme pretty quickly. I've got to remember, too, that I've just jumped straight out of the Jaguar XF - a car worth, quite literally, twice as much, but one where the cream seats hid no stains at all.
Renault's simplistic approach to colour schemes extends to the uncluttered layout of the cabin and the ease with which, in my opinion, you can access, the driving assistance functions via the touchscreen infotainment system. And in this context, the decision to keep things simple definitely isn't a black mark.
Our average consumption 53.9mpg
3rd report - Let Megane entertain you
The latest Megane is a technological tour de force - from its auto dip/main-beam headlights, all-round proximity sensors and anti-bumper crunching rear-view camera, to the host of onboard gizmos and gadgets.
Unlike previous Renaults, which had a reputation for suffering from annoying and costly downtime for fleet users due to various electronic gremlins, the latest tech appears - according to service bay warranty audits at least - to be pretty durable. While some features, like adaptive cruise control and safe-distance warning, have obvious safety and potential cost benefits, others are purely aesthetic and entertaining, but sometimes frustrating too.
Take the multi-colour ambient interior lighting. Having chosen your favourite hue for the instrument panel, if you select one of the various driving modes, it overrides that with a virtuous green halo in eco mode, it turns blue in comfort mode, purple in sport mode and monochrome if you don't select one at all. You then have to revert back to the available choices in the infotainment screen the next time you start the car to restore your colour choice.
Too many functions require potentially distracting, finger-fumbling, touch-screen operations when on the move, including altering the air-con's fan speed and ventilation direction. Rather incongruously in this digital environment there is an analogue clock, but it, and the temperature gauge only display when the multi-mode screen is inactive.
Automatic halogen headlights are a boon, even if their response time in adjusting to oncoming headlights is not as rapid as those on some other brands' cars. Furthermore, when the lights are in auto mode, you can't override the system, which means you may well accidentally dazzle fellow road users. Compared to the optional £500 LED equipment, our car's dipped beam reach and spread are a tad underwhelming.
It's worth turning the central infotainment screen blank during night driving too - a task that takes ages to work out how to do via various menus - and using the steering wheel controls to bring things like fuel ecnomy and sat-nav prompts up on the instrument panel, as this eliminates annoying reflections on the windscreen after dark.
Another annoyance is the car's fuel economy. Over 1,840 miles, I've registered an average of 56.1mpg. Although a good result overall, it's a massive 20.3mpg shy of the laboratory-induced official combined figure.
By Hugh Hunston
2nd report - Renault rides to the rescue
Our planned long-term sojourn with the mid-range Megane became a tad shorter overall courtesy of a mindless vandal who, on Christmas Day of all days, wrenched the nearside door mirror off its mountings, leaving it dangling by its life-support cables, rendering the car out of action for, in an apt coincidence given the time of year, 12 days.
While the legal guidance suggested that it was still possible to drive the wounded Renault, it did not seem wise or safe to have impaired rear vision, plus there was always the likely attention it would bring to the police.
Renault stepped into the breach with an equivalent trim level 130hp silver substitute hatchback, although it was packed with additional kit including £1,000 in leather upholstery, a £500 excellent, door-flexing seven-speaker Bose sound system, and LED headlights also costing £500.
The superior stereo included a substantial boot-mounted subwoofer, which ate up the space usually reserved for the emergency spare wheel. The LED headlights were a definite boon, however, quite literally eclipsing the rather average long-range performance of our original Megane's halogen system.
With a £22,195 P11D, £1,200 above the 110hp equivalent and one tax band higher due in part to the elevated 104g/km CO2 rating, the quicker, more muscular and flexible counterpart nonetheless topped 60mpg over the couple of hundred of miles in our care. That might be down to driving style and applying the Eco setting, but the less powerful counterpart over its first 1,500 miles is hovering around the 54mpg average mark.
So that we could resume the test routine with the original car more rapidly, Renault replaced the mirror in-house. Considering all the gizmos built into a modern 'smart' mirror module, including folding and heating mechanisms plus blind-spot alert, the nominal cost did not seem outrageous: it involved a bill of £136.16 for the replacement unit and £43.20 (30 minutes) labour charge.)
By Hugh Hunston
1st report - Megane joins the fleet
The fourth-generation Megane hatchback, of which we have recently taken custody, has arrived more than two decades, and 500,000 British market sales, after the original model appeared. Renault's number-crunchers anticipate the business sector to account for half of sales volume.
Bigger than its predecessor, Renault's C-sector mainstay maintains the sharp, sculpted look applied by design boss Laurens van der Acker that we've seen on other recent Renualts and which is contributing towards the brand's current upward sales momentum.
Form has to follow function and cost-effectiveness for corporate drivers and fleet managers. And over the first few hundred miles our newcomer, in Dynamique S Nav dCi 110hp form, looks capable of holding its own in a hugely competitive fleet sector.
This mid-range model's £20,995 P11D encompasses generous standard equipment levels, including sat-nav, cruise control, auto headlights and wipers, 17-inch alloys, automatic climate control and an 8.7-inch touchscreen infotainment system.
Separately there are £1,650 worth of options too, with premium parking and safety packs contributing £900 of that. This is on top of hands-free parking, all-round parking sensors, AEB, and distance warning alerts, which are also included in the pack.
Renaults have come a long way from the mid-'90s poor quality and reliability syndrome, with the Megane closing the gap on VW's Golf for fit and finish. But its interior still lacks the German's interior material class and tactility, with irritating details like cruise control switchgear concealed behind the steering wheel.
It doesn't take long to get your head round the R-Link infotainment system, controlled from the high-mounted i-Pad-style screen, even if using the climate control involves some distracting manipulation of the touchscreen.
We suspect the interior design may be a sense of the designers doing things becuse they could, rather than they should. The emphasis on digital displays and the way the centre console is laid out isn't ideal. Meanwhile the cabin ambient lighting may not be to everyone's taste either.
As a driving proposition, our Megane is refined and responsive, while the tax-friendly 110hp 1.5-litre dCi diesel emits 96g/km CO2, which results in a 21% 2017/18 BIK rating. This puts it right up with rivals such as the 1.6-litre diesel Vauxhall Astra.
The S Nav specification upgrade involves smart 17-inch alloys and, unusually, moving up a wheel size does not compromise the pliant and comfortable ride. Electric power steering is much improved even if it lacks the feedback you'd get in the Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra.
Inside, back-seat legroom is traded for a substantial 434-litre boot, while high-mounted rear headrests restrict rear visibility.
In the real world, the official 76.4mpg fuel consumption seems unattainable and, probably due to experimenting with eco and sport driving modes, I've only managed an 48.7mpg average over the first 731 miles.
The cleverly executed integrated fuel-filler system, which dispenses with a fiddly screw-on cap, also prevents misfuelling at the pumps, although it's not easy to accurately brim the tank.
So far, it's impressing with the generous equipment levels and spacious boot. We're hoping the fuel economy will improve over the coming months and miles, however.
By Hugh Hunston