Latest report - Renault Megane long-term test
24 May 2017
|P11D price £20,995|
|As tested £22,660|
|Official consumption 76.4mpg|
6th report - In for a comfy ride
What's the first thing you do when you live in London and get a new car? Get out of London! That's what I did anyway, and it turned out to be a great way of testing out the practicality of our long-term Megane.
In such a competitive class, the first thing to note is that the Megane makes use of its exterior dimensions well. While it is no longer shaking its ass, its boot space has not lost out, reaching 384 litres, which is, in fact, a good deal bigger than most of its rivals including the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra.
With the seats folded down, that boot space is increased to an equally impressive 1,247 litres - great for a road trip to the countryside on a bank holiday weekend. Packing the bedding and picnic food galore was when the hurdles began. Firstly, the back seats don't go completely flat, making it difficult to fill the extra space with large items. Secondly, despite its large capacity, loading the boot with heavy items was made tricky by the high lip, which often got in the way.
When it comes to storage, however, the Megane has plenty. There are two holders in the centre console, one in each door, along with a generously sized glove compartment. The door bins are big enough to fit other things in too and are carpeted to stop loose items rattling around, which is a nice touch. The tray in front of the gear stick has a USB port and 12V connectors so you can charge your phone and have enough space to leave it there while you drive.
There is also a decent-sized cubby under the front armrest and one under the steering wheel.
As for comfort, the position of the front seats seems slightly unnatural at first, but you soon get used to it. On the plus side, they are very padded and comfortable - perfect for that long commute or countryside road trip. Head and leg space is decent for passengers in the front, but space in the rear for knees and feet is a little tight.
Our average consumption 53.9mpg
5th report - It wasn't me
I'm in danger of exposing my childish side here - as an editor I'm supposed to be very sensible and mature, after all - but I have to admit that even after a 250-mile round trip in our long-term Megane, I still find the noise the lane departure warning system makes when you venture too close to the line absolutely hilarious.
It's almost as if the car is fitted with its own whoopie cushion and can leave more prudish passengers almost blushing - until you correct them that it's the car that made the noise and not you. It's been a source of much amusement with family and friends and something that never fails to raise a smile with me either.
Joking aside, however, there's a very serious benefit to this system that's potentially life-saving too.
Lane departure warning is among the most important safety systems fitted into cars today and can be a good sign for when the driver is starting to get tired or feeling distracted when behind the wheel. And the best news is that it's standard in our long-termer's Dynamique S spec too.
The system is a little over-cautious at times, but the settings can be easily altered via the touchscreen to low, medium or high sensitivity, and the volume can also be adjusted - especially useful if you're chauffeuring business clients or your mother in-law who may not find the car's apparent bout of flatulence very funny.
You can turn the system off too, along with other advanced safety systems on offer in our long-termer, although we wouldn't recommend it.
Another of our favourite safety features is the automatic high beam which helps improve visibility when driving at night, automatically adjusting the beam for oncoming traffic. I live out in the country where the lighting at night isn't great in parts and this system has
My commute to work involves a lot of motorway driving, so adaptive cruise control has also been very handy and made tackling the M25 on a Monday morning a more relaxing affair. This system can also be easily altered via the controls on the steering wheel to adapt the following distance to the car in front.
The average mph figure indicated when using the sat-nav is a useful touch too, especially when travelling through road works with average-speed cameras, and I like how the distance control alerts you to the stopping distance, measured in seconds, between you and the car in front. It's displayed through the driver's TFT display.
It's not surprising that the Megane achieved a five-star score when it was tested by Euro NCAP, and the majority of these systems form part of a pack costing £400 - very reasonable in our book, although some of the Megane's rivals will offer parts of this kit as standard.
When it comes to parking, though, Renault has been more generous, with a rear parking camera and front and rear parking sensors available as standard equipment on our test car. Our Megane also comes equipped with hands-free parking, all-round sensors and blind-spot monitoring as part of pack for £500 - another bargain.
Helping me to squeeze into the most difficult of parking spaces, the hands-free parking system manoeuvres the car into perpendicular and parallel spaces with ease.
It's also easy to activate by pressing a button just below the infotainment screen, displaying an available space clearly on the driver display, and it's even simpler to use, with the driver just needing to control the accelerator, gears and brakes. The only tricky part is trusting the system and accepting that, in almost all cases, the car will park itself better than you can.
Our average consumption 53.9mpg
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