Review: Renault Megane

Great family car, spacious, safe with a touch of luxury

29 Oct 15 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Soft ride and handling

  • A lot of safety kit

  • Well-equipped

Cons

  • Small boot

  • Styling is bland

  • Cramped rear seats

Our expert rating

The Renault Megane is a small family car, made in France since 1995. It’s one of Renault's most important models, and has been offered in three and five door hatchback, saloon, coupé, convertible and estate guises.

Performance

The 2002-2009 generation Megane is a good budget buy, and the Renault engines from this era are co-operative and frugal, although the 1.6 petrol and 1.5 turbo diesel can become a bit raucous at motorway speed. The 2.0 petrols have plenty of clout, but the 1.9 diesel Meganes are better for all-inclusive capability, particularly if you do a lot of long-haul commuting.

Car on the road

Ride and handling

The Renault Megane has a soft ride and this makes it a great car for gliding over damaged road surfaces without a hitch. This easy-going set-up means there is lean in bends, so don’t go thinking you can take corners fast.

The ride is generally courteous otherwise and, as long as you are not pushing the car on bends, there is plenty of traction. The only real thing to let the car down on the handling front is the numb steering. You can’t really tell what is going on under the wheels because of its lack of feel.

Rear of a Clio Megane

Interior space

The high driving position has a decent span of adjustment, and there is no scarcity of good-quality materials in the cabin. There is a lot of safety kit and loads of storage areas, too, including a substantial glovebox.

Space depends on which body style you go for. There is more room in the rear in the saloon, but in the five-door hatchback you get more flexibility. The major issue is that the hatchback’s boot could be larger. It’s big enough for a buggy, but you may find you will have to put some of your weekly shopping in the cabin if you go to the supermarket with your tot.

Interior of car

What to know before you buy

Electrical gremlins are the most common nuisance, and they aren’t always easily put right. Electric windows can go belly up, and the indicator and wiper stalks can go wrong. A slow, inconsistent engine response and starting issues can prove pricey and laborious to repair, too.

Also, listen out for squeals and knocks in the cabin, and check for any signs of water leaks. Squeaking brakes – a frequent problem – can usually be put right by exchanging the original brake pads for newer ones. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the Megane uses a combination of analogue and digital instruments, which can be a little confusing and take a bit of getting used to.

Alternative cars

The main and obvious used rival to the Renault Megane hatchback is the Ford Focus. The Focus leads the class here, and it’s closely followed by the Vauxhall Astra. The Astra has rather bland aesthetics but it’s a good car with a strong range of engines.

The Skoda Octavia is also worth looking at. It has a massive boot, it’s a respectable performer and is excellent value, but not as plush inside as the Megane.

Megane and Ford Focus side by side

Overall verdict

The Renault Megane is a really cheap car to buy on the secondhand market and you will find it difficult to get so much safety and luxury kit for your money elsewhere.

The Megane is well-equipped to cope with family use and it makes a reasonable choice as a first car, too. This is because the French motor has an even-tempered nature, even if it’s not the most engaging vehicle to drive.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall