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Renault Megane green car review

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12 September 2012 by Paul Clarke

Eco Facts

Model/Engine size: Megane Hatch GT Line TomTom 1.5 dCi 110 Stop & Start

Fuel: Diesel

Fuel economy combined: 80.7mpg

Beating Spirit rating: 7/10

Introduction

The Renault Megane Hatch 1.5 dCi 110 has a best-in-class official combined fuel economy figure of 80.7mpg, along with low emissions of just 90g/km CO2, and it’s good to drive.

Summary

• Best in class official combined economy figure of 80.7mpg, with low emissions of 90g/km CO2

• In GT Line spec, a good-looking family hatch

• Reasonable fun to drive, helped by relative light weight

• Struggled to get close to official miles per gallon

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Background

Renault may want to see itself as a pioneer of electric vehicles, and it has recently cut back its conventional UK model range considerably, but until EVs start to sell in decent quantities, the company will have to keep making traditionally-powered family cars. The Megane is a likeable family hatch, and in 1.5 dCi 110 form, it has an amazing combined fuel economy figure of 80.7mpg.

Design & Engineering

Compared to some ‘green cars’ with hybrid or electric powertrains, the Megane is a fairly conventional affair. It’s a five-door family hatch with a 1.5-litre diesel engine. It comes with Stop & Start, and this helps to result in the official figure of 80.7mpg.

Externally, it’s also more conventional than the previous-generation Megane, which had that infamously bulbous rear end. The GT Line styling pack adds some welcome flair to the design. On the outside it gains a decent set of 17-inch alloy wheels, and on the inside there’s a carbon-fibre effect and a red stripe which helps to liven up the otherwise fairly dull grey dashboard, which is in danger of appearing rather cheap-looking.

The TomTom satnav is easy to programme with its i-Drive-type controller, which is certainly better than the strange idea of a separate remote control that came with the Megane Coupe that we tested a couple of years ago. The systems’ speed camera warning is useful, but the satnav’s graphics aren’t great, and it’s not particularly easy to stop the verbal instructions.

There are a few minor issues in the interior. The cupholder that comes out of the centre console doesn’t seem to be able to hold a cup, and it gets hit by the gear lever when selecting third or fifth. If you disengage the traction control you get a brief message on screen then there’s no further indication, so you’re never quite sure if it’s on or off. The dials are tilted away on a strange angle, and both the start button and the stereo controls are all hidden away low down on the dash (there are also stereo controls hidden behind the steering wheel).

But the most annoying thing was a message every time the car was started warning about unread messages in the car’s inbox, yet there were no obvious messages or ways to stop the message.

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Renault Megane Driving Experience

The Megane’s driving experience is actually quite enjoyable, and we can’t help but think that this is helped by its relative light weight of 1215 Kg. It feels light and easy to drive with a fluidity and agility that is very rare in diesel cars. It certainly doesn’t feel like an 80mpg diesel car; such models typically have drawbacks in their driving experience, wheareas this Megane has sufficient performance and feels quite normal. It has good steering, decent handling, and a comfortable ride.

You can see why the hot hatch version of the Megane is so well received; the basic Megane seems to share some genes in its chassis. The GT Line TomTom model, as tested, benefits from technical input from specialists at Renaultsport Technologies in the area of its specially tuned chassis with lowered suspension, along with steering and brakes, as well as a Renaultsport-style leather steering wheel.

There is one downside; the six-speed gearbox isn’t the most precise of transmissions.

Renault Megane Economy and Emissions

The Megane’s official economy figure of 80.7mpg is quite amazing, and, perhaps predictably, we found it difficult to match this in real-life driving; we could only achieve 54.5mpg, which is a long way short of the NEDC figure. Of course the very low official emissions figure means that the Megane has just a 13% benefit in kind tax rate, making it appealing for company car drivers – as well as anyone travelling into the London Congestion Charge zone, which would be free of charge.

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Price, Equipment and Model Range

The Megane Hatch GT Line TomTom 1.5 dCi 110 Stop & Start costs £21,300, but our test car also had a number of options: emergency spare wheel (£75); Visio system – lane departure warning and automatic high/low beam (£250); Xenon Pack: Bi-Xenon headlights with washers (£680) – taking it to a total price of £22,305.

Other available options include: metallic paint (£520); electric panoramic sunroof with sunblind (£620); Carminat TomTom additional mapping for Western Europe (£110); Carminat TomTom Live 3 year subscription (£125); Leather Pack: Carbon leather upholstery with heated front seats (£1,250).

There are also other models in the Megane line-up, with petrol and diesel engines: 1.6 16V; 1.2 TCe 115 Stop and Start; 1.5 dCi 90; 1.5 dCi 110; 1.5 dCi 110 Auto EDC; 1.6 dCi 130 Stop and Start; and the 2.0 dCi 160 FAP.

Trim levels are Expression+, Dynamique TomTom, and GT Line TomTom; with prices ranging from £16,280 to £22,495.

Conclusion

The Megane is a family hatch that’s enjoyable to drive and which offers the potential of 80mpg. In normal driving we struggled to come close to the official figure, but if you’re looking for a good all-round family car that should give you high fuel efficiency if you’re prepared to drive in a very careful way, then the Megane could be the one for you. Perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t feel like an 80mpg ‘green’ diesel car; it feels like a normal car. It gets a Beating Spirit rating of 7 out of 10.

Car Facts and Figures

Renault Megane data

Fuel economy extra urban: 88.3 mpg

Fuel economy urban: 72.4 mpg

Test economy: 54.5 mpg

CO2 emissions: 90 g/km

Green rating: VED band A – £0 a year

Weight: 1215 Kg

Company car tax liability (2012/13): 13%

Price: £21,300

Insurance group: 18E

Power: 110 bhp

Max speed: 118 mph

0-62mph: 12.1 seconds

DPF: Yes

Paul Clarke

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