Renault’s updated the entire Megane range for 2014, grafting on a me-too Clio nose, revised engines, and cabin tweaks. This is potentially the most interesting of the lot – a restyled Megane with the most potent diesel engine available. Sounds like a good recipe for a grunty, funky hatch.
Another Renault with a ridiculous name to explain, no doubt?
The official name of the Megane estate CAR reviewed recently was a mouthful, but this Coupe ratchets up the moniker silliness. It is, in fact, the Renault Megane Coupe GT Line TomTom Energy dCi 130 Stop and Start. And breathe.
Why has this car got a name longer than a Tolkien novel?
Forgive the R&B lexicon: let’s break it down. ‘GT Line’ is an equipment level – don’t assume this is a warm hatch sprinkled with Renaultsport magic dust. You get a silver-trimmed bodykit and exclusive 17in alloys, plus a dash of faux carbon trim, two supportive seats up front, and red stitching. There are (apparently) subtle chassis revisions, which we’ll get to shortly.
TomTom is of course the integrated sat-nav as standard, but our test car binned that for the £300 touchscreen R-link interface. Crammed into the Megane halfway through its life cycle, it’s a square peg in a round hole – we’ve explored the flaws in more detail in our 2014 Megane Sports Tourer review here.
What does all that engine jargon mean?
‘Energy’ is the name Renault is applying to its 2014 Formula One powerplants – that’s the 1.6-litre turbocharged V6s with heaps of electric boost for overtaking zip. Like Ferrari allying its new turbocharged California T with the forced induction era of F1, it’s predictable that Renault wants its wildly successful F1 engine programme to rub off in the showroom – but there isn’t much in the way of racing pedigree under the bonnet. It’s a four-pot diesel, for goodness’ sake!
The engine in question is Renault’s best diesel, though. The 1.6-litre four-cylinder offers 128bhp and 236lb ft (the strongest figures in the 1.6-litre turbodiesel class), and has supremely clean eco-credentials. Spitting 104g/km out from under the silver rear diffuser sits the Megane Coupe a tax band lower than a similarly powerful VW Scirocco 2.0 TDI. The Megane’s other main rival, the three-door ‘coupe’ Vauxhall Astra GTC, is down on power and up on CO2. It looks that bit sexier though. Choose your weapon…
If you’ve looked at the spec box and scoffed at the 70.6mpg claim, you’re quite right to. Our test car averaged a more realistic (and still respectable) 50.4mpg in mild cruising and only dropped to 47.5mpg when we helped ourselves to the meat of the torque-band – which musters only 29lb ft less than the wonderful Renaultsport Megane 265 hot hatch. Speaking of which…
Does the Megane Coupe drive like a cut-price RS Megane?
It’s good – perhaps even blessed with a better chassis than you might expect of a cooking Renault, but there’s little of the chassis fizz and playful adjustability the RS-tuned car offers.
Just having a decently judged steering wheel size and shape gives the Megane Coupe a more pleasant ‘handshake’ than the Astra’s first impression. Beyond that, it’s not a laugh-out-loud steer. A 12mm suspension drop for the GT doesn’t invigorate the handling, but chuck in a few potholes and a pimply surface and the Coupe GT Line exaggerates the imperfections, and it’s not well-refined, either.
The engine might score Green Party membership like a state-of-the-art derv ought, but its turbo lag thwack is very old school. We’re used to seeing peak torque in these downsized turbo mills arrive at around 1500-1800rpm, but the Megane offers nothing until 2000rpm shows on the cantered tachometer.
Yet once the torque arrives, the 1.6 trades its tardiness for a sudden surge. Amusing, sure, but the thrust soon tails off again. We’d trade one-off sucker punch for a more consistent workrate in a heartbeat. The claimed 0-62mph time is 9.8sec, but from the bolstered, lofty driver’s chair, it feels like 0-10mph takes about eight of those seconds, before the Millennium Falcon’s jump-to-hyperspace mode is engaged. Thwack.
If you’re buying the Coupe for its eye-catching humpbacked styling, be aware of the practicality pitfalls. Being a ‘coupe’, the extra-long length of the doors make it harder to get in and out in tight spaces, for instance. And, while you can have a crisply annotated reversing camera to negate the Dunkirk pillbox rear visibility, it costs an extortionate £600. Our test car, what with its heated leather seats, sunroof, metallic paint and spare wheel racked up a £24,535 ask – £1590 above list.
Pricey for a diesel Renault…
Prefer a Scirocco? Better book some overtime. Go for the same spec as our Megane GT test car and you’re hovering around £28k. Relatively, the Renault is the budget proposition, which in turn makes it easier to overlook the solid but uninspiring dashboard, borrowed from the humdrum Megane five-door and short of the Coupe’s exterior pizzazz. At this point, we could mention the sub-£20k Kia Proceed coupe…
The Megane Coupe GT Line is certainly a more rounded car than its Clio GT stablemate, which tries too hard to be a pretend RS Clio. The Megane is much more relaxed than the RS version (brittle ride notwithstanding) and wins points for undercutting the other three-door ‘coupes’ around.
On the downside, its clean engine dawdles too much from getaway, and it’s a competent rather than entertaining drive. Best bet? Strip out the trinkets and maximise the price advantage, or shell out a few extra notes a month for the cooler Scirocco.