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Reader test: Renault Megane

2007-12-07 13:01

Colin Ashby

I have never owned a diesel car before.

The only reason I bought this Megane 1.5 dCi was because I was driving a BMW 540i and doing 5 000 - 10 000 km a month. At a rand per kilometre rate on fuel alone it was expensive to run; hence a decision to change to diesel.

And my Megane does about 1 000 km to a tank in town and with a bit of open road driving. If you're doing long distances, you'll achieve 1 200 km and if you want to get 1 400 km to the tank, then drive at 90 km/h all day.

Getting past the Renault myths

In fact there are lots of things to believe and some not to believe when it comes to Renault. The service is expensive. They have fixed pricing for services, averaging R 1 500 for every 10 000 km with diesels. A set of brake pads will set you back R1700. I haven't had one problem with the servicing, but I have had my share of gripes.

The F/R indicator globe stops working because a multi plug is loose. Renault fixes it in two minutes, but I can't get to it to do this.

The clutch is my biggest bugbear. It takes late an inch from the top and is a nightmare when driving in the traffic. This is especially so when in traffic on an uphill and you're required to take off quickly.

Since I bought the car as a demo, I have griped about this at every service. The clutch was replaced at 60 000 km and it still takes late at the top. I have now been told "all diesels have been designed to have a clutch that takes late", but I was born two days ago, not yesterday...

Some positive, some not

The seats are well made using really smooth material, a real pleasure if you need to move around in the seat. The steering is electric, so it's safe to turn all the way and not hear loaded up hydraulics, and it also has good feel at all speeds.

Another thing I find is the steering wheel itself is not smooth. It uses a slightly ripped hard plastic that numbs my hand after two hours of driving. I have now added a cover - it doesn't look good, but it helps. Why Renault can't use leather, I don't know. I've tried to buy one a leather steering wheel, but can't.

Concerning the driving experience, I saw this car as a plain Jane - there's nothing special about it, but it is good at what it does. But drive another make and get back into the Renault, and all off a sudden you realise it's a solid car with integrity. It has a stiff body, is firm on the road, cruises well at 120 km/h plus it is well sprung, has good steering input and powerful brakes. The brakes are too powerful, actually.

What lets it down? The fact that the dealer service wants to help, but doesn't really want to help even if it's not going to cost them a thing. I even got the extended warranty and I'm still arguing about my clutch...

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