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Take a chance on a diesel with attitude

By Wells Journal  |  Posted: September 19, 2012

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The much improved third generation Renault Megane five-door Hatch, Sport Tourer estate and three-door Coupe look like very different cars but they share a selection of refreshed dCi 1.5-litre diesel engines that yield some of the best economy and emissions figures in the class, if not the most exhilarating performance. Safety and interior quality are other Megane strong points that help push Renault offering up amongst the best of today's family hatchback crop.

Renault's dCi diesels tend to impress more for their economy than they do for their performance but that's not to say that the diesel Meganes can't get a shift on when the need arises. The 90 and 110bhp engines share a 1.5-litre capacity which looks small for a diesel engine powering a family hatchback. Still, with maximum torque of 200Nm and 240Nm respectively, they are flexible enough for most requirements. The 0-62mph sprint is dispatched in 12.3s by the 110bhp car with the 90bhp model requiring another 0.2s to cover the increment.

The differences between the Megane Coupe, the Sport Tourer estate and the five-door Hatch don't end with the bodywork. The coupe rides 43mm lower with 12mm of that total accounted for by its lowered suspension. The ride is noticeably firmer than the five-door car but still far from uncomfortable on a well-surfaced road. Indeed, the three-door Megane must be one of the smoothest-riding small coupes out there. Refinement is another strongpoint of the package with road and wind noise well-suppressed in both models and the dCi engines proving far from intrusive at cruising speeds.

The most recent cosmetic tweaks add the perhaps inevitable LED daytime running lights (differentiated on GT Line models by their boomerang-shaped configuration), some new alloy wheels and a black gloss finish with chrome highlights for the front bumper. The cabin has been smartened up, too, with updated interior trims, including a two-tone leather pack available in a choice of two finishes in the UK and visible red upholstery stitching for the GT Line spec.

The 1.5-litre dCi diesel engines are a good fit. Perhaps these economical units work a little better with the straight-laced hatch and Sport Tourer estate models than the dynamic Coupe but the blend of exceptional economy and emissions with respectable brawn is just about impossible to naysay. With the Megane, Renault has attempted to cater for a wider range of customers and there's no reason why the policy shouldn't work. The Megane's safety and interior quality are a match for any rival in the family hatch sector and while the five-door might be on the bland side, the Coupe – and to a certain extent the Sport Tourer – have more than enough visual drama to go round.

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