Renault’s ‘Megane Coupe’ name is fake news

It’s rather good looking and offers very smooth ride – but definitely not a coupe

A devilishly good-looking four-door saloon but it certainly fails to live up to its “Grand Coupe” name

Make: Renault

Model: Megane

Year: 2017

Fuel: Diesel

Date Reviewed: May 17, 2017

Wed, May 24, 2017, 05:02

   

Not even Sean Spicer hiding in a hedge would be able to bluster his way though calling the new four-door Renault Megane a coupe, never mind a Grand Coupe as Renault currently insists on calling it. It is, and let’s be honest here folks, a regular, old-school, four-door saloon. A coupe it ain’t.

It is a devilishly good-looking four-door saloon though. Once upon a time, four-door variants of five-door hatchbacks were the dumpy, ugly cousins, designed to try to fooled under-promoted middle managers that they were being given a “proper” car, with a boot and everything.

Now though, the saloons can often be the best-looking, the best-proportioned versions and so it proves here. The Megane hatch is handsome enough in and of itself, as is the estate, but this saloon (okay, okay . . . “Grand Coupe”) manages to out-pout them, and looks very much like a 7th/8th scale Talisman.

We don’t get the big, Passat-sized Talisman in Ireland, as there’s no right-hand drive production, and that’s a bit of a shame. Aside from having an interior too fond of pound shop plastic for a car with quasi-premium aspirations, the Talisman is gorgeous at which to look, and squishy-sofa comfortable inside.

Is the Megane Not-A-Coupe a worthy stand-in? Well, in the looks department the answer must be a resounding yes. In others, ummmm . . .

Noisy suspension

I’m a bit confused, to be honest. I’ve driven other Renault products recently (new Scenic, new Zoe, the Kadjar crossover) which generally impressed with their quality levels, but this Megane didn’t get to the end of my road before the left front suspension started creaking and groaning over speed bumps.

The cabin occasionally joined in out of sympathy, I guess, and the plastics used on the inside really do call the overall build and construction into serious question.

Disappointing: sporty until you come to a corner, and then it all falls over
Disappointing: sporty until you come to a corner, and then it all falls over

With cars such as the VW Golf, Toyota Auris, and Opel Astra topping this class, it’s a wonder quite what Renault was using for a cabin quality benchmark. Maybe it was taking our praise of the cheap-and-cheerful Dacia Duster a bit too much for granted?

It is comfortable, though. For a while there, in and around 2008 to 2009, it seemed as if Renault had forgotten how to make a properly comfy and supportive front seat but I’m pleased to note that no longer seems to be the case.

Aside from being mounted just a touch too low for those with long legs, the pews in the Megane are fine, and my back-seat passengers reported all was comfy in the rear, too. Reasonably roomy as well, and there’s a hefty 503-litre boot slung out the back under that pert rear end. Things are looking up for the Megane.

Up again with the engine, Renault’s familiar 1.6-litre 130hp dCi diesel. It’s enormously economical, easily averaging high-50s MPG figures. A touch grumbly from cold and around town, but it’s smooth and quiet on the open road, and with extremely good mid-range urge. Work the slightly floppy, long-throw six-speed manual gearbox frequently enough and you could almost call it sporty.

Pillow-like ride

Sporty until you come to a corner, and then it all falls over. Almost literally. Now, I’m on record as saying that cars should err more towards comfort than sport, at least on the road, and I’m pleased to report that the Megane has a soft and pillow-like ride.

Sadly, though, Renault has forgotten that a relaxed ride doesn’t have to mean a car that flops and rolls in a series of unruly lurches around corners, not helped by steering that seems connected to the front wheels mainly by satellite uplink. Again, I’m not expecting a car like this to handle like a Porsche, but it would be nice for it to handle better than this.

You do get a big, upright touchscreen which gives the cabin a faint aura of posh Volvo

Long-range comfort, thanks to that fuel economy, should be an asset, but again the Megane falls short, thanks to too much road and tyre noise, and suspension that reacts noisily to bumps. On an average Irish main road, that’s a serious demerit, and hearing your car crash and wallop over bumps just saps your confidence in it.

Not cheap

It’s not cheap, either, although that is a comment aimed specifically at this Signature spec model, which clocked in with an asking price of €29,490. Perhaps not an excessive amount of money to ask for a family car, but certainly at the deeper end of the piranha pool, considering the opposition.

You do get a big, upright touchscreen which gives the cabin a faint aura of posh Volvo, and there is also cruise control, climate control, 18-inch alloys, leather seats, and hands-free entry and ignition.

I so wanted to love this car. Being a bit of a Francophile, the recent combination of Emmanuel Macron and a decent French Eurovision entry had re-ignited my passion for La Republique. I’ve always had a soft spot for softly-softly French cars, but sadly this one is a bit too soft, both on its springs on in its quality control. C’est la guerre, I guess.

The lowdown: Renault Megane Grand Coupe Signature 1.6 dCi 130hp

Price: as tested, €29,490; range starts at €21,990.

Power: 130hp.

Torque: 320Nm.

0-100km/h: 10.5sec.

Top speed: 201km/h.

Claimed economy 70.2mpg (4.0-l/100km).

CO2 emissions: 103g/km.

Motor tax: €190 per annum.

Verdict: Gorgeous looks aren’t enough. Needs better chassis and quality to compete.