The Mégane's appeal goes much further than just its distinctive looks; the practical cabin and wide model range, which includes one of the best hot hatches ever, means there is something for everyone.
In 1995 the original Renault Mégane took over where its predecessor, the Renault 19, left off. It entered its third generation in 2008. Ditching the controversial rump of the Mégane II, the exterior design remains distinctive while interior quality enjoyed a massive leap forwards. The Grand Mégane model in particular offers a great balance between style and practicality, while those looking for driving thrills should try the talented Renaultsport 250.
Soon after its launch in 1995, the original Mégane introduced the world to the compact MPV sector with the arrival of the Scenic people carrier. And although the mini people carrier is now a model in its own right, it’s no surprise that the Mégane range still offers buyers plenty of choice.
Apart from the standard five-door hatchback, there’s the option of a racy three-door coupé, an open-topped Coupé-Cabriolet with a folding hard top and the practical Grand Mégane estate model. Engine choices are limited, the above models coming with a 1.5-litre diesel only – though there are varying outputs available.
It’s a frugal, if not particularly refined, unit and even the most powerful 1.5 dCi 110 model manages to return 4.4 litres/100km. The range starts with the Expression, through Dynamique and ends in sporty GT trim, though some versions, such as the Coupé-Cabriolet come in Dynamique TomTom specification only – which includes one of the mapping firm’s integrated satnav systems.
There’s an efficient dual clutch (EDC) gearbox available, which is a big improvement over previous automatics in terms of response and refinement. Those more concerned with power should look to the turbocharged Renaultsport Mégane 250, as it’s one of the most talented hot hatches available. The more basic Cup models are a little more hardcore, but keen drivers will appreciate the sharper responses.
In reality it’s probably the Grand Mégane that is the most sensible purchase – not only is it practical (with up to 1,562 litres of load space), but arguably it’s the best-looking model in the range. There’s not much choice under the bonnet, but as the higher output diesel sacrifices little in the way of economy or efficiency we’d opt for that. The six-speed manual gearbox is a little notch-like, but the new dual clutch EDC gearbox is a rare sight on the used market.
1.5-litre diesel (109bhp)
Engines: 1,461cc four-cylinder diesel
Maximum speed: 190km/h
0-100km/h: 11.1 seconds
Fuel consumption: 4.4 litres/100km
Euro NCAP: * * * * *
• Distinctive design
• Practical Grand model
• High economy, low CO2
• Frustrating switchgear
• Limited engine choice
• Coarse diesel
The Mégane's appeal goes much further than just its distinctive looks; the practical cabin and wide model range, which includes one of the best hot hatches ever, means there is something for everyone. And while it’s not as talented as the Ford Focus, even the basic models prove entertaining from behind the wheel – making it a great choice for the heart and head.