While the new Megane range has impressed us with its coherent and attractive design, one got the impression that while it was making inroads into the stronghold territory of Ford, Toyota, and VW, it was still not quite yet at the top table.
Certainly, the subtle styling, the massive standard kit and the attractive pricing regime has improved the Megane’s ability to complete with the class leaders and even the old 1.5 dCi turbodiesel doesn’t seem as tired or jaded as it might have done and has thus not lessened the car’s potential appeal.
Sure the 110 bhp unit is not as swift or even as enjoyable to drive as the 1.6 that is available elsewhere in the range, but it is not bad to drive, is terribly frugal and also enjoys the sort of French comfort levels which are such a source of national pride.
The engine will propel you to 100 kph in 11.3 seconds, which will not, of course cause any blood-draining blackouts among you or your passengers, but the general way it goes about its business and its ability to cruise along at relatively high speeds (the top speed is 190 kph) is very pleasing.
But for the family oriented driver the economic characteristics of the car will be the figure which jumps out in the largest writing.
Officially this Megane estate will return the astonishing figure of 3.4 l/100 km (76 mpg) and while you can be fairly sure the real-world figures will not be so impressive, you should be guaranteed somewhere around the 4-5l/100k even if there is a bit of Lewis Hamilton in you.
Everything about the car is designed to impress the modern family: space, comfort, practicality, connectivity, gizmos, and economy. Performance will not thrill, but that not necessarily top of everyone’s shopping list.
But the one area where the Renault falls down by comparison with those at the top of the Segment C pile is its on-road behaviour. The bottom line here, quite simply, is that the Renault will not cut the Dijon mustard when compared with such as the Focus and Golf — even the estate rivals.
Sure it is edging closer in this regard, but while the handling is not bad, the comfort of the driver and passengers is compromised when this hits bad surfaces, of which there are all too many in this country right now.
Put it on a billiard table and it is quite fine, but on anything else it gets easily unsettled and seemed to be on the bumpy side too often for my liking.
But the reality here is that the Megane is getting closer to the class leaders and there is no denying the fact. Ally its increasingly impressive character with that noted frugality and a stellar array of standard kit and the package is not that bad at all and it is therefore no surprise that the car is having an an increasing presence on our roads.
Of course, Renault have the benefit of having their own bank to help persuade customers with attractive PCP plans and that is another reason the car is performing so well right now, but even without that support, the Megane is becoming an increasingly viable buying prospect.