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Diesel Mégane on test

2003-12-30 08:49
Long, long ago only old men drove diesel cars and it was usually some ugly green Mercedes belching black smoke.

Nowadays things are a lot different and a host of state-of-the-art common rail diesel cars are available.

Some of them are also quite funky hatchbacks like the Renault Mégane which offers two diesel models. Furthermore the Mégane with its futuristic design is quite a crowd stopper.

Although time will doubtless dilute its impact, it is still something of a kick to flip open the garage door and be greeted by a car that looks like an escapee form a motor show stand.

The Mégane II range (in hatchback and sedan guise) offers two variations on the diesel theme.

Those on a tighter budget can opt for the 60kW 1.5-litre dCi, which is also the subject of our test. Should you have a bit more money in you back pocket there is the 88kW 1.9-litre model.

Superb economy

Although the 1.5-litre engine is a little slower than its big brother, one benefit of sharing the same high-tech engineering is that fuel economy is superb.

A touring fuel consumption figure of 5.9l/100km is scarcely credible for such a sizeable car and the average figure of 7l/100km is suitable penny-pinching.

The sprint from 0-100km/h will take about 13 seconds and the top speed of 173km/h means normal cruising is quite relaxed.

Ride quality is good, the Mégane remaining composed through corners and dismissing rolls, dips and humps with disdain.

Mégane II boasts new front (MacPherson struts) and rear suspension (torsion beam with coil springs) systems that combine precision, comfort and highly effective isolation of noise and vibration.

Compared to its predecessor, the Mégane II is superior in terms of roadhoalding, braking and dynamics.

While not the pocket rocket of the range, the little diesel is a willing performer and its on-road manners mean a composed and comfortable ride over short and long distances.


It offers ample cabin space and there is plenty of room for the driver and front passenger with enough options in seat movement to get comfortable.

Rear space is more short-haul for adults in terms of legroom, but certainly not uncomfortable or as miserly as some other rivals.

The 1.5dCi comes in Authentique trim that includes, as standard, keyless entry and remote central locking, a four-speaker audio/CD-system with fingertip control, air-conditioning, variable assist power steering, height and reach-adjustable steering wheel, height-adjustable driver's seat, time delay courtesy lights, trip computer, electric front windows and many more features.

The interior is upholstered in Lizo charcoal grey cloth, and the dashboard is finished in a matching colour.

The boot has a capacity of 330 litres, and lashing points are provided on the floor, and additional stowage space is available beneath the floor in the spare wheel well.

From the outside Autentique models are distinguished by black door handles, colour-coded bumpers, and 15-inch steel wheels.


In a segment of look-alikes, the Mégane II stands out as a product of character and innovations.

The robust design of the car is enhanced by an almost-obsessive attention to detail, as evidenced by the high levels of trim quality, fit and finish, flush body panels and slim shut lines.

Since Renault's re-entry in the local market it has indeed made a big impact - cars like the Clio and Scenic seems to be a big hit.

The new Mégane will definitely increase the French company's local appeal and the car is already a big hit. It will be interesting how many sales the Renault Mégane steals from the ageing VW Golf.


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