Renault Megane IV


Debut: 2015
Maker: Renault
Predecessor: Megane III



 Published on 28 Dec 2015
All rights reserved. 


7 years ago I wrote this in my Renault Megane III report:

To keep Renault alive and the French in the driving seat of Renault-Nissan group, the new generation Megane has to succeed. But can it?

Now we know the answer is negative. Megane III continued the declining sales trend of Megane II. If anything, it declined even faster. Although Renault no longer provides sales breakdown, we know last year it sold 275,000 units of Megane and Scenic combined. This mean the Megane dipped below the alarming 200,000 units mark. In other words, it trailed all of its key rivals, let alone the best selling Volkswagen Golf which sold 1 million units in 2014.

The Megane was not alone on the list of unpopularity. Basically, all the traditional nameplates of Renault suffered from pretty much the same fate. Laguna sold so badly that it was killed and replaced by the larger Talisman. Clio, although still shifting in relatively large numbers, is no longer as popular as it used to be. Nevertheless, Renault is more successful in catching the trend of small crossovers with Captur, and its investment in Dacia is proved to be smart – incredibly, sales of Logan, Sandero and Duster combined exceeded 1 million units last year! Predictably, Carlos Ghosn would rather invest more into what can really make money, whereas unprofitable models like the Megane have to find ways to cut cost.



That is why the firm decided not to develop a dedicated C-segment platform for Megane this time around. Instead, the new Megane IV is reshuffled and grouped with the company’s larger cars, such as Talisman, Espace, Kadjar and Nissan Qashqai, sharing the Common Module Family platform CMF-C/D of Renault-Nissan group. Don’t worry about elevated cost. Renault said the enlarged scale of economy allows the car to add big car features without pushing up costs. Moreover, Renault’s large car platform is not as sophisticated as you might think. For example, it still employs cheap torsion-beam rear suspension, something even many C-segment rivals have already abandoned. Carlos Ghosn just won’t let loose on cost control.

However, sitting on a big car platform means the new Megane is quite heavy. Because the key common parts have to be strong enough for its larger siblings, there is little room to cut weight, even though it follows the industrial trend to use more high-strength steel. As a result, the new car weighs about the same as the old one thus is on the heavy side of the new class norm. No wonder Renault did not mention weight saving in the press release.



On the plus side, the new Megane has two things improved markedly: styling and build quality.

This is a very handsome car, finally something we expected Laurens van den Acker to achieve since he joined Renault 6 years ago. I like its new front grille and the way it focuses on the enlarged Renault logo. The C-shape headlights are striking, injecting a sense of excitement to the otherwise normal body shape. The slim taillights are elegant, as is the treatment of the whole hatchback rear. The rear passenger doors kick up at the trailing end to enable a sportier appearance. Finally, the bonnet and fenders are sculpted perfectly to deliver the right balance between elegance and sportiness. Yes, the right balance is what makes it so appealing.

The new exterior design uses quite a lot of chrome to deliver a quality feel. The tight panel gaps have the same visual effect. Inside, no matter the dashboard design or materials you will find the Renault tries very hard to emulate Volkswagen. Well, it’s not exactly there, because soft touch plastics don’t cover the lower surfaces and the center console as do in the Golf, but the Megane compensates with some big-car features, such as an iPad-style 8.7-inch portrait touchscreen, TFT instrument, color HUD, ambient lighting and even ventilated and massaging seats! Admittedly, the R-Link infotainment system is still flawed, blame to unfriendly user interface and slow touchscreen response. However, space is abundant. Thanks to stretching the wheelbase to 2669 mm, the new car offers 20 mm extra knee room for the rear passengers. Both front and rear rows get more shoulder room, too. This means the Megane is finally a decent people carrier. Besides, the 434-liter boot is big for the class.


As usual, the Megane is biased towards comfort rather than driving excitement (at least until the release of RS model, which is still 18 months away). Its cabin feels hushed on the move. The soft-setting suspension results in a ride quality French cars deserve. The seats are plush and comfortable. It grips and balanced quite well in corners, but the steering is devoid of feel and the chassis never feels sharp enough to thrill. It won’t threaten Ford Focus, Mazda 3, Golf or Seat Leon for driving dynamics.

Its powertrains have much the same quality. The best seller is likely to be the 130 hp 1.6dCi turbo diesel. It is punchy and refined at low speed, but despite of a 5200-rpm redline, it sounds coarse and noisy once it has passed the 4000 rpm power peak. This means in normal driving it feels perfectly sweet, but it won’t encourage you to stretch it. On the petrol side, Renault’s 1.2TCe direct injection turbo engine is also more about refinement and flexibility than a spirited top end. Later on there will be a sequential twin-turbo version of 1.6dCi with 165 hp. Hopefully it could satisfy more demanding divers.



Until the arrival of RS, the fastest Megane is the 205 hp GT. Its 1.6-liter turbo motor comes from the smaller Clio RS. Like the latter, it employs a compulsory EDC twin-clutch gearbox, but in this case it has 7 ratios. As we have found on the Clio RS, this powertrain combo is disappointing. The engine produces a terrible noise when it approaches the 6400 rpm redline. It sounds as if begging you to back off.  Even the artificial noise produced from the speakers cannot mask it. The Getrag-built EDC gearbox remains sluggish and inconsistent, much less satisfying than a proper manual box. Moreover, the Megane GT weighs nearly 1400 kg, so its performance is lukewarm, even though the official figures look good (143 mph top speed and 0-60 mph in 6.7 seconds). It goes without saying this is a "warm hatch" rather than a true hot hatch, much in the same way as Peugeot 308GT.

Apart from powertrain, the GT also gets a sportier chassis tuned by the Renaultsport division, such as stiffer suspension, faster steering rack (just 2.3 turns lock to lock), bigger brakes and smart-looking twin-square exhaust pipes (pictured above). Furthermore, it gets the “4Control” 4-wheel-steering system from the late Laguna GT. It adds an electric motor and a pair of toe control links at the torsion beam rear suspension to facilitate rear-wheel steering. At low speed the rear wheels turn slightly at opposite direction to enhance agility, whereas at higher speeds it turns to the same direction as the front wheels to enhance stability. The principles are just the same as similar stuffs on Porsche, but its tuning is poorer. At tight corners it steers over-eagerly to the extent of edgy. In changing conditions the switch between oversteer and understeer could be unpredictable and counterproductive. Moreover, it kills the chance of lift-off oversteer, which is ridiculously available on lesser models, so it is actually less fun to drive. Besides, the 4Control hardware adds a ridiculous 39 kg to the car (the RWS of Ferrari F12tdf adds only 5kg). Unfortunately, it is fitted standard on the GT thus you cannot skip it. No problem, you can simply skip the car.

If we are talking about the Megane GT alone, it would be worth only 3 stars, and this is mostly because of its styling and build quality rather than its powertrain or chassis. However, the rest of the Megane range is better. For less committed drivers it is a more stylish alternative to Golf or a better value alternative to Mercedes A-class. The big-car strategy might work this time.
Verdict: 
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Megane 1.2TCe 130
2015
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4359 / 1814 / 1447 mm
2669 mm
Inline-4
1198 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
Turbo
DI
130 hp
151 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
205/55R16
1205 kg
122 mph (c)
10.0 (c)
-
Megane 1.6dCi 130
2015
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4359 / 1814 / 1447 mm
2669 mm
Inline-4 diesel
1598 cc
DOHC 16 valves
VTG turbo
CDI
130 hp
236 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
205/50VR17
1318 kg
123 mph (c)
9.4 (c)
-
Megane GT
2015
Front-engined, FWD, 4WS
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4359 / 1814 / 1447 mm
2669 mm
Inline-4
1618 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
Turbo
DI
205 hp
206 lbft
7-speed twin-clutch
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
225/40WR18
1392 kg
143 mph (c)
6.7 (c)
-




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