In short, it might surprise you.
So what’s it like on the move? Well, as ever with a Megane, there’s quite a difference between the sporting Renaultsport-tuned models and the more mainstream variants that most customers choose. These volume versions feature a softer set-up but have been improved in this fourth generation model range courtesy of a lighter, stiffer ‘CMF’ chassis. Avoid entry-level trim and you also get the brand’s ‘Multi-Sense’ driving modes system, one of those able to alter steering feel, throttle response, stability control settings and auto gearchange timings to suit the way you want to drive. Heck it even changes the engine note in an effort to put you in a sportier mood.
Under the bonnet, the range is mainly focused on diesel power, primarily the 1. 5-litre dCi 110 unit that can also feature a clever ‘Hybrid Assist’ system for greater economy. Even without that technology, a 1. 5 dCi Megane is capable of 76. 4mpg on the combined cycle and 96g/km of CO2. This base diesel powerplant, like the 1. 2-litre TCe 130 petrol unit, can also be ordered with Renault’s smooth-shifting EDC automatic transmission if you want it. If you want more diesel power, then two further 1. 6-litre dCi options are offered, with either 130 or 165bhp. Finally, there’s the ‘GT’ variant, powered by the same 205bhp 1. 6-litre turbo petrol engine you’d find in a Renaultsport Clio hot hatch. This variant gets a 7-speed EDC paddleshift auto gearbox and lots of clever tech, including Launch Control and a ‘4CONTROL’ 4-Wheel Steering system that makes the car more manoeuvrable and easier to park at lower speeds and more precise and involving to drive at higher ones.
It’s certainly distinctive, primarily because of this unusual and rather eye-catching LED front lighting signature. Fortunately though, there’s more to the aesthetics than that, the long, low hunkered-down stance and wide track giving this fourth generation model more dynamic and balanced proportions than we’ve seen on any of its predecessors.
Time to take a seat behind the wheel. So get comfortable and have a look around. What’ll you notice? Well the answer’s obvious in a top variant like the ‘GT’ model – this 8. 7-inch ‘portrait’-style centre dash ‘R-Link 2’ touchscreen there to bring a touch of Tesla to this humble family hatch.
We’d want it, not least because without this feature, the cabin of this car does look a touch ordinary. With this iPad-like colour display dominating the centre of the dash though, your Megane will feel satisfyingly sophisticated as you poke, pinch and swipe your way through menus for things like Navigation, ‘Phone functions, apps, Multimedia options and a DAB audio system that offers superb sound quality when ordered with either Arkamys or BOSE 3D sound.
We had quite high expectations here, given this fourth generation model’s lengthier wheelbase and the fact that it’s one of the widest cars in its class. In the event, accommodation here is quite tight, despite Renault’s insistence that there’s more shoulder room than most rivals can offer.
Finally, let’s take a look at the boot. Lift the tailgate and you’ll find that the opening is a good square shape but that this high sill will make it a little awkward to get heavier items in. The good news though, is that this fourth generation model’s new ‘CMF’ platform allows it to offer a much larger boot than before, capacity having risen by 62-litres to a 434-litre total. That’s makes this one of the biggest luggage areas in the class.
Renault had to step up its game and significantly improve its fourth generation Megane. It has. Coming up with something different, yet still appealing in the super-competitive Focus-class family hatch segment is never easy but in some respects, Renault has really managed that with this car.
True, this may not be the European market leader it was a decade or so ago but it’s a compact family five-door that now ticks an awful lot of boxes. And one that an awful lot of people we think, would rather enjoy owning.