Posted on: 22nd Aug 2012
You used to know where you were with family hatchbacks. There was a mainstream five-door version and more red-blooded buyers gravitated towards the sportier three-door. In recent times we're increasingly seeing these cars branded as 'Sports Coupes', 'Sports Hatches' or as with the Renault Megane, 'Coupes'. At least Renault has put the effort in to justify its more exotic naming strategy. The Megane Coupe looks the business, but is that enough to warrant calling it a coupe? Here's what to look for.
This model has been with us since 2008, albeit receiving a fairly thorough make-over in 2012.
The UK launch was a full-on product assault with no fewer than six engines being offered: three petrol - 1.6-litre VVT 110, 2.0-litre 140 CVT and 2.0-litre TCe 180 - as well as three diesel -1.5-litre dCi 86, 1.5-litre dCi 106 and 1.9-litre dCi 130.
The Renaultsport versions, which we cover in a separate used car model guide, arrived in 2009, giving a shot in the arm to the Coupe range. Later that year, Renault launched an i-Music special edition with uprated Arkamys 3D sound 4x30W RDS CD MP3 stereo system with integrated Bluetooth hands free phone kit and a Multi-Functional TunePoint.
Rear parking proximity sensors added convenience whilst the 17" Sari alloy wheels, front fog lights and brushed aluminium-effect door mirrors gave the car a bit more visual fizz. In June 2010, Renault revised the trim structure a little, slotting in GT and GT Line models. These got Renaultsport seats and a specific front bumper assembly with a reshaped central air intake incorporating a gloss black centre section that supports the number plate. The fog lamps were housed in profiled, anthracite-coloured recesses on either side of the bumper, black headlamp backgrounds rounding off the look.
April 2011 saw the introduction of a special edition high-end Monaco GP limited edition which featured pearlescent Arctic White paint, together with gloss black body components - door mirrors, rear diffuser and fog light surrounds, black headlight masks and Monaco GP badging. Two engines were offered; the 1.9 dCi 130 and the recently launched downsized Tce 130, a 1.4-litre powerplant with the torque of a 2.0-litre and the power of a 1.8-litre.
What You Get
Only the headlamps, bonnet and front wings are carried over from the five-door hatch to the Megane Coupe's exterior and you'll believe that when you see the car. It's certainly an appealing piece of design.
The rear end is particularly admirable with the side window line rising dramatically to a point that meets with that of the curving rear screen above the pumped-up haunches. The downside of this elegant glasswork is poor rear visibility but with a set of parking sensors installed, that should be easy to live with. The interior is more sober. The design follows that of the straight-laced Laguna but the Megane also inherits that car's first-rate build quality. The materials are as good as it gets for a family hatchback.
The only real spark of individuality comes from the digital speedo that dominates the instrument cluster. Space in the rear is OK for a pair of adults but the Coupe's rakish roofline impinges on headroom. At 344-litres, the boot is on the generous side for a car of this kind and usefully shaped.
In terms of trim levels, it's a familiar Renault case of Expression, Dynamique, GT or Privilege for Megane Coupe buyers, assuming they can't stretch to Renaultsport R.S. trim.
The Dynamique adds automatic wipers and headlamps plus an upgraded stereo, cruise control and tinted windows. Standard kit also includes ESP stability control, ASR Anti-Skid Regulation and a comprehensive collection of airbags.
What You Pay
Prices are starting to look very attractive. That's not great news for the previous keeper but it does mean you can get into a new looking car for less than you might imagine. A 2009 09-plate 1.6 Dynamique with just 25,000 miles on the clock can be yours for just £6,750.
A slightly leggier 2.0 Tce Dynamique isn't going to set you back too much more, while £7,000 will start netting you the first of the 1.5-litre diesel cars as long as you're willing to put up with a few more miles on the odometer.
What to Look For
Very little goes wrong but ensure the electronic dashboard displays are working correctly as this has been a complaint. Clonking from the front suspension on full lock may well mean new drop links are required.
(Approx prices, based on a 2010 Megane 1.6) A new clutch will be about £180 and a full exhaust system, excluding the catalyst, should be around £375. Brake pads are about £50 a pair, an alternator close to £180, a starter motor will be just under £170 and a replacement radiator is about £225.
On the Road
The differences between the Megane Coupe 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 Megane must be one of the smoothest-riding small coupes out there. Refinement is another strong point of the package with road and wind noise well-suppressed and the engines proving far from intrusive at cruising speeds. All this talk of comfort and refinement probably won't have your pulse racing but the Megane Coupe can entertain too. How much excitement you get will depend largely on your choice of engines. The 1.5-litre dCi diesels and the 1.6-litre petrol are adequate but offer little by way of brute force. Much better for buyers wanting a Coupe that lives up to its name are the 130bhp and 160bhp diesels
The Renault Megane Coupe is one of those cars that is delicately and discreetly judged. It looks good, it drives well and the addition of the Renaultsport versions acts as a magnet for those who want to corner on the door handles.