New Megane can put Renault back on its 2010 pedestal

The new Renault Megane is due in Ireland next summer
The new Renault Megane is due in Ireland next summer

Renault Megane – International launch

Dear Santa, please find below my revised list for Christmas this year.

I had originally ordered a Volkswagen Golf, but my dream was shattered earlier this year when the emissions scandal broke my heart.

In my last letter, I mentioned that the new Opel Astra was a fine replacement for my beloved Golf, but now there is something arriving next year that will definitely give them both a run for their money.

This week in Lisbon, I drove yet another brilliant C-segment car – and French car maker Renault is ‘Megane’ me change my mind again.

Although it is not due on Irish shores until early next summer, the new Renault Megane is certainly worth a closer look in my eyes.

The Megane, which was actually the best-selling car in the country back in 2010, unfortunately fell a little behind its rivals in terms of spec and appeal in the years that followed.

However, I am pleased to say it is back – and it is certainly back with a bang.

The French manufacturer is really pushing the boat out with the fourth-generation model, and there are signs that the brand is, like so many others, moving more upmarket.

On the outside, the new Megane has a stylish new look with neat creases down the bonnet. Up front it sports the massive Renault logo and grille that is now familiar on some of its more expensive siblings.

The highlight for me though, is the new C-shaped 3D-effect LED lights at the front and stunning rear lights that use ‘Edge Light’ technology to create a horizontal 3D-effect which appears as brush strokes with a deep red glow.

The new Megane is also more spacious than its predecessor. Although it has been slightly lowered, it now benefits more head and shoulder room in both the front and the rear and I found the legroom ample too.

The rear seats fold in a 60/40 split and there is a modest 434 litres on offer with the seats in the upright position, and a massive 1,247 litres when they are folded to the floor.

Around the cabin, there is a real stylish feel, and I am going to stick my neck on the line and say the touch screen in the centre console is the best I have seen.

This massive 8.7-inch portrait-style iPad, which will come standard in the range-topping model, or as an option in mid-spec cars, is absolutely superb.

It has the pinch/squeeze movement similar to an iPad or tablet and the sat nav is up there with the best I’ve seen, although I still can not understand why all manufacturers don’t follow in Audi’s footsteps and use Google maps.

The one downfall is that Renault has, like the rest of them, switched over to digital temperature settings.

I really wish companies would just leave the old-style hot-and-cold knobs with heat settings of 1-5.

Drives me mad to have to click up a half a degree on these modern ones to higher or lower the temperature.

On the road, the new Megane  is still a little off the Golf, Focus and hidden gem of them all – the new Opel Astra – in terms on handling.

Over the course of the international test-drive Renault put us through some pretty stiff terrain – from motorways to cobbled streets and coast roads – to see how the car could handle, and although it came through with flying colours, I felt it is still a little off the top three.

I got behind the wheel of the diesel hatch – which has an abundance of torque on tap – and the petrol-powered GT line.

It is evident that the engineers have put a lot of hard work in the handling and I was surprised to discover that the range-topping Megane GT version comes with four-wheel steering.

At speeds of up to 80kph both the front and rear wheels turn in the opposite direction, while at speeds above that they turn in the same direction.

Overall, the new Renault is a fine car that could push it back towards its 2010 pedestal. Unfortunately, pricing and spec hasn’t been announced for the Irish market yet, but I would hope it’s not too much over the current model (starts at €18,990) even though there is a lot more bang for your buck.

Currently, there will be 10 engines for the dealer to choose from with diesels still tipping the scales over petrol.

We will bring you full prices and spec when the car arrives in right-hand drive in early summer next 

Robbie Farrell