Renault Megane 1.9 dCi 'Expression' sedan road test
by Ian Barrett
5th December, 2008
Road Tests >
Our readers will recall that we have previously sampled sporting versions
of Renault's mid-sized Megane hatch, and have come away favourably impressed by most aspects of their design and
performance - with the notable exception of the oh-so-eccentric styling. That notched rear end is an acquired taste that
many buyers will find just too hard to swallow. But there is a solution - enter the Megane sedan! With one deft swoop of
a stylist's pen, Renault have transformed their ugly duckling into a beautiful and elegant swan, while at the same time
retaining much of the Gallic charm which makes French cars, well, unmistakably French!
In fact, Renault claim that the Megane sedan offers "a perfect blend of form and function" and this time we reckon
they're not too far off the pace at all. Here is a car whose styling can compete with the best of its European rivals,
and come up smiling. We drove a Megane 1.9dCi 'Expression' for a week and found ourselves in a very well-balanced
family sedan, whose combination of 'Extreme Blue' metallic paintwork, with 'parchment' interior trim turned heads for all
the right reasons - at last. The standard issue 6.5x16" 9-spoke alloys, and front fog lamps add to that style very nicely.
Incidently, the spare wheel is a full-sized steel one, admirably suited to Australian distances and road conditions.
And the Megane's good form continues within the bright and airy cabin. The sporty and functional dashboard lay-out and
door trims complement what is a very roomy and comfortable exterior, in the very best Gallic tradition. And yes -
controls are logical and well placed. Seats are supportive with a wide range of adjustment (lumbar and height for the
driver only), and offer plenty of leg room. Combined with a height and reach adjustable steering wheel (with audio and
cruise control buttons), there shouldn't be any shape or size of driver who won't feel quickly at ease. One unusual
feature is the credit-card sized ignition key which slots into the dashboard below the starter button, and activates a
checklist prior to starting the engine.
Climate controlled air conditioning with pollen filter and 'sunshine sensor' keep the weather outside where it
belongs, while light and rain sensors activate both headlights (with 'see me home' function), and wipers automatically in
the event of rain or darkness. In fact, this is a car which is very well equipped. Among the many other standard
inclusions are multi-function trip computer, power windows (with anti-pinch facility) and mirrors, cruise control with
speed-limiter, and air chilled glove box. In-car entertainment is courtesy of a 4x15 AM/FM unit with single CD and
fingertip control. Those who want more will need to upgrade to the top-of-the-range 'Privilege' specification, which gets
all of the above features, plus leather trimmed seats, steering wheel and gear knob, a 6-stack CD player, 17-inch alloy
wheels, and rear parking proximity sensors - albeit for a hefty price premium.
Adults and infants alike will appreciate the side and rear pull-up sunshades, while storage spaces abound. Apart from
the usual door pockets, there are clever storage bins within the armrests, driver and front passenger under-floor trays,
a 6-litre central front armrest compartment, and a closed compartment tray in the rear parcel shelf. The 60/40 split fold
rear seats extend the large and functional 520-litre boot space, folding flat when needed to accomodate long or bulky
items. One minor niggle is the fitment of fairly poor quality floor carpet, which we found very hard to clean. We
consider the optional front and rear carpet mats a 'must have' accessory.
Renault are serious about safety, right across their range of cars. Every Megane comes with a 5-star safety rating.
There are 6 airbags - driver and front passenger adaptive front and side, plus side curtain units front and rear. Front
and rear seatbelts come with pretensioners. The doors come with side impact bars and honeycomb padding. ESP is standard,
incorporating both traction and understeer control. ABS brakes (front vented, and rear solid discs) with EBD and EBA,
should bring you rapidly to a screech-less halt in the event of an emergency.
Handling and roadholding are exemplary, with struts on rectangular lower arms and anti-roll bar up front, and a
torsion beam system with coils at the rear. Ride is a touch sporty, but comfortably well controlled. The result is a very
well balanced front wheel driver, which can tackle the fast twisty bits with considerable confidence, and hence much
enjoyment. As TV ads have suggested, this is quite a driver's car. By all means, let the chauffer take the back seat!
But a driver's car needs performance. And we're pleased to report that the 1.9-litre common-rail turbocharged and
intercooled diesel is happy to cater to this need. Putting out 96 kW @ 4,000 rpm, and a robust 300 Nm @ 2,000 rpm, and
coupled to a very slick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission, this powerplant offers brisk acceleration, and exceptional
flexibility on the road. Our only complaint with the test vehicle was a certain degree of vibration and harshness between
3,000-3,500 rpm - but most owners will rarely need to venture this far up the range in normal driving. Generous
soundproofing keeps any diesel rattle within the cabin to a minimum.
Sitting on 110 km/h in 6th gear had the engine spinning at a leisurely 2,000 rpm, making for very quiet and relaxed
cruising at highway speeds. In fact, with 4 adults on board and cruise control engaged, the Megane easily sailed up the
steeper pinches of the F3 between Sydney and Newcastle without dropping down a gear, and managed a frugal 5.4L/100 km for
the trip. With a quoted combined fuel consumption rating figure of only 5.8L/100 km, the Megane 1.9 dCi certainly offers
a great combination of power and economy. One very nice touch which other car makers would do well to copy, is the 'clean
hands' watertight fuel filler cap, which springs aside when the fuel nozzle is inserted.
The Renault Megane 1.9 dCi 'Expression' is a very complete package. It offers European style, performance and dynamics
with a comprehensive equipment list, and is exceptional value for money at $27,990 plus on-road costs. Renault offers a
3-year/100,000 km Warranty with 24-hour Roadside Assistance. We thoroughly enjoyed our time behind the wheel of this
elegant new swan.
More Renault News .....
Top of page