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Road test: Renault Megane

By Roger St. Pierre with Hazel Kempster

The glib ‘all new’ phrase is used all too liberally in the motor industry these days but when used in connection with the latest range to bear Renault’s Megane name tag it’s not too far off the reality – especially once you look under the bonnet and into the ultra hi-tech and high quality cabin.

A winning feature on some versions is a large, very clear and easy to use instinctively easy to use touch-screen display.

Outside visual changes are less dramatic, there being a clear heritage from the previous models to carry the Megane brand, but it does look more upmarket and there are some truly dazzling body colours on offer.

Finish and fit are well on par, while equipment levels are also commendably high. Our Dynamique S Nav test car, for instance, served up dual-zone air-con, a superior sat/nav system, DAB radio and daytime running lights.

With forecourt prices ranging from £16,950 to £25,000, there’s a good selection of engines and specifications, ranging up from the 1.2-litre petrol turbo model, that is good for 47.1-mpg, to the super-slick GT that features a potent 1.6-litre 202-bhp turbo engine. The most economical Megane engine when it comes to fuel consumption is the 108-bhp diesel – good for 76.4-mpg when coupled with a manual gearbox.

Standard on the GT and a £1,200 option on other models is a smooth-changing six-speed, dual-clutch gearbox.

The new Megane brims with sophisticated safety features, earning a five-star rating with such gizmos as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, speed sign recognition and blind-spot warning systems.

The new car faces strong competition from the likes of the Ford Fiesta, the Vauxhall Astra, Seat’s Leon, the Kia Cee’d and the Peugeot 308. Renault believe that the Dynamique S Nav will be the best selling Megane for the British and Irish markets.

Having once owned a Renault 19 – surely one of the worse cars ever to be brought to the market – we have long harboured a smidgen of prejudice where the French government-owned brand is concerned. But that was then and the new Megane is now – and it gave us an enjoyable week of good service. Monsieur Renault: all is forgiven!

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