but in my experience the Megane line-up does not live up to its UK sales potential.
The Ford Focus, VW Golf, Vauxhall Astra are the mainstay of this market segment with the Kia Cee’d family and the Hyundai i30 ranges gaining a larger segment of sales. Somehow the Megane gets overlooked when buying comparisons are made.
Putting the Megane family back on my radar was a spell in the stylish Coupe, the GT Line TomTom ENERGY 1.6 turbodiesel dCi 130 with stop-start. The price – £22,945 but the range with lesser powered versions with less specification start from £18,250 and climb to £25,930 for the highly rated Renaultsport 265 variant.
Engine options range from 1.2 to 2.0-litre through five petrol and four diesel units, some with multipoint injection, some with direct injection, some normally aspirated and some turbocharged. To add to the decision making are Dynamique TomTom, Limited, GT Line TomTom, GT 220 and Renaultsport 265 equipment and performance levels to choose from depending on the engine of choice as well as manual and automatic gearbox choices. No less than 17 versions make up this niche selling range.
Competitors in this hot hatch or coupe market sector where three door hatchbacks and bespoke coupes converge include the VW Scirocco, Vauxhall Astra GTC, the Kia Pro-Cee’d T-GDi, Hyundai Veloster, the Ford Focus ST and SEAT Leon FR/Cupra 3-door.
The Megane Coupe however with its two doors plus curvaceous sports hatch looks like a proper coupe not a three door hatchback. This of course has a compromise with the sweeping coupe roofline resulting in small rear side windows, reducing the headroom and leg room for rear seat passengers and restricts rear/rear quarter visibility, but never mind the practicalities it looks good for two.
Up front the space is good and comfortable with well supporting sports seats. The fascia and controls are all well-laid out, not too busy and they are logical and easy to use. The influence in the GT Line I tried can be attributed to Renaultsport. Specification includes an array of airbags helping towards the NCAP five star safety rating, Bluetooth, TomTom live sat-nav, cruise control, front electric windows and door mirrors, climate control, keyless card entry with push-button start, centre console, 60-40 split folding rear seatbacks, Arkamys 3D sound system, Renaultsport leather covered steering wheel, alloy pedals, automatic lights and wipers, traction and understeer controls.
The additional features for the GT Line TomTom include rear parking sensors, 17-inch alloy wheels, lowered sports suspension and sports tuned steering, GT front and rear bumpers as well as bespoke headlight and fog light surrounds. There are additional optional items such as a £1,250 leather upholstery and electrically operated front seats, a £600 rear parking camera, R-link multimedia system for £300, panoramic sunroof at £460, an emergency spare wheel for £95 and special paint finishes from £525 upwards.
It is clear this version of the Megane Coupe doesn’t come up short with looks or specification and neither does the performance options. The hardcore 2.0-litre Renaultsport 265hp, 158mph petrol model is the show-stopper for out-and-out performance and it shows just how good the platform of the Megane is albeit tuned for Renaultsport and GT Line models. There is also a 2.0-litre, 220hp, 149mph petrol model for the slightly less adventurous driver and for those drivers who want a diesel engine then the most powerful is the 1.6, 130hp version I tried. This gives 320Nm of torque from 2,000rpm and it is this amount of torque that makes the version the nicest – less frantic to drive and of course the most fuel efficient.
Top speed is still 124mph with zero to 62mph taking 9.8 seconds but it feels quicker than that. But it is not the outright performance that is this engine’s star quality, it is the ‘grunt’ that it delivers with minimum delay, fuss or gearchanging. Press the accelerator pedal and the pick-up is really responsive mid-range and still responsive even in the sixth gear overdrive ratio. The diesel engine is quiet at all speeds from cold start-up to motorway cruising but the wind and road noise intrusion is higher than I liked. Fuel economy is good as well with 53.7mpg being my road test average covering early morning, traffic free fast driving on country A/B roads, a short motorway blast and a little stop-start town traffic. Officially the Combined Cycle figure is 70.6mpg and the CO2 emissions are just 104g/km which means VED road tax is free for the First Year rate and then currently only £20 for Year Two onwards.
However this comes with a ‘wealth’ warning as we do not know what the potential new higher taxation levels for diesel powered vehicles will be. Another point to note is that currently all engines for the Megane Coupe range are shown as still being Euro 5 compliant and Euro 6 requirements start from January next year so you might find there is a bargain to be had price-wise.
On the subject of price is it worth paying the extra £1,000 for the GT Line TomTom over the same 130hp diesel engine in the Limited Energy version? Yes I think it is because you get the added GT sporty specification and the sport tuned suspension and sharper steering response and those make a considerable difference to the overall handling. The ride is firmer but far more taught in the handling depart. The cornering pace is increased, the understeer more or less eliminated, torque-steer is minimal and the steering is precise and well weighted.
If you have a need-for-speed running through your veins this is the Megane Coupe to go for without busting the budget by buying the GT 200 or Renaultsport 265 petrol versions. It is a bit of a hidden gem in the coupe sector and it deserves more recognition.
MILESTONES: Renault Megane Coupe GT Line TomTom Energy 1.6 dC1 130. Price: £22,495. Engine/transmission: 1.6-litre, 4-cylinder, Euro 5, direct injection, turbodiesel, 130hp, 320Nm (236lb ft) of torque from 2,000rpm, 6-speed. Performance: 124mph 0-62mph 9.8 seconds, 70.6mpg Combined Cycle (53.7mpg on test), CO2 104g/km, VED road tax £0 First Year rate then£20 Year Two onwards. Insurance group: 20E. Warranty 4-years/100,000 miles. Dimensions/body style/boot capacity: L 4,312mm, H 1,423mm, W 1,808mm, three doors, 2+2 seating, boot/load space 344 to 991-litres. For: Sporting good looks, Renaultsport styling additions plus sports handling upgrades, responsive high torque engine, low running costs. Against: Currently under appreciated by UK customers, rear/rear quarter visibility, limited rear head and legroom, no Euro 6 engines currently available, noticeable wind and noise intrusion. Miles Better News agency