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First drive: Renault Megane dCi 110. Image by Renault.

First drive: Renault Megane dCi 110
The tax-busting Renault Megane dCi 110 is a fine alternative to a Volkswagen Golf.

 



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Renault Megane dCi 110

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As when we drove the fourth-generation Renault Megane at the end of 2015, it's arguably the 'plainer' dCi 110 model as tested here that impresses more than the quickest version yet, the GT. The regular diesel Megane has sacrificed a little chassis sparkle for a whole lot more refinement and, as a result, this quiet, comfortable and attractive hatchback deserves to take more of the C-segment market share.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Renault Megane Dynamique S Nav dCi 110
Pricing: from 16,600; Dynamique S Nav from 20,400; car as tested 22,925
Engine: 1.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door hatchback
CO2 emissions: 96g/km (VED Band A, 0 annually)
Combined economy: 76.4mpg
Top speed: 116mph
0-62mph: 11.3 seconds
Power: 110hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 260Nm at 1,750rpm

What's this?

The tax-busting, fleet manager-pleasing, likely top-selling model of the four-car range for the Renault Megane MkIV. There's a 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 130hp, a 1.6-litre turbodiesel with the same output and a 1.6-litre petrol range-topper, the 205hp GT, but this 1.5-litre dCi 110hp mill will be the motor of choice for the majority of Megane user-choosers. That's because it's the only engine to dip below the 100g/km 'free VED' CO2 cut-off point, although don't specify 18-inch wheels on the manual model. If you do, emissions rise to 101g/km, which'll cost you 20 a year road tax from year two onwards. Pricey, eh?

The dCi 110 is available with either a manual or an Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) automatic transmission, both of which have six ratios, and it's also offered in all trim grades - Expression+, Dynamique Nav, Dynamique S Nav, Signature Nav and GT Line Nav - barring top-spec GT, which is reserved for the 205hp turbo model alone. Prices for the 110hp diesel start at 17,900 for an Expression+ manual, although this mid-ranking Dynamique S Nav kicks off at 20,400.

For that, you get the attractive exterior looks of the new Megane (it really is a striking car in a sector dominated by largely safe designs) and a reasonable kit list to boot. Figure on 17-inch Florida alloys, a reversing camera plus parking sensors all-round, auto lights and wipers, the 'Visio' system (lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and automatic high beam), Bluetooth, the 8.7-inch R-Link 2 portrait touchscreen for infotainment, the seven-inch TFT digital speedometer and display, dual-zone climate control, a hands-free keycard, part-leather and cloth upholstery, an Arkamys 3D sound system with DAB and electrically adjustable, heated and folding door mirrors. The price on our car was pushed up with Flame Red Renault i.d. metallic paint (625), full LED headlights (500), the Parking Pack Premium (500, hands-free parking, 360-degree sensors and blind-spot warning), the Safety Pack Premium (400, adaptive cruise control, distance warning and autonomous emergency braking) and the uprated Bose sound system (500). At 75 quid shy of 23,000, this is not a cheap Megane, then, but it is sufficiently well-stocked for that sort of cash.

How does it drive?

Renault has widened the track of the Megane and makes no secret of the fact it has targeted comfort over outright dynamic acuity for this iteration of the car. For the non-RS models, that means much of the Gallic firm's traditional chassis flair hasn't made it into the dCi 110, but the pay-off is a level of refinement befitting a machine from a larger, more expensive class.

It's not that the 1.5-litre diesel Megane is dull to drive on a challenging road. For what it is - a modest 110hp vehicle designed to soothe away the stresses of the daily grind - it's perfectly composed and adept in the bends, although the steering is too light no matter what the setting and the body control has gone a bit loose by Renault's standards. But you can have some fun with it, mainly because the engine's highly useful 260Nm of torque is on tap from just 1,750rpm; that makes the car feel quite brisk once it is rolling, even if step-off acceleration is a touch tardy.

However, the Megane dCi 110 is most at home in its Neutral drive setting (no, really, that's what it's called, Neutral - like Switzerland), where the sheer level of noise suppression is remarkable. The little diesel engine never manages to do much more than politely interrupt cabin conversations with its exertions, and that only occurs if you needlessly rev the thing right out, which you won't do in regular driving. The ride is lovely and sumptuous, too, smoothing off the worst of big compressions and potholes without resulting in a sensation of unrecoverable body float. The gearbox is all right, nothing more, nothing less; it slides about its gate in a slick manner, but there's little in the way of positive heft to its action or a feeling of solid connection when another ratio slots home. And the brakes simply do their job - not once did we either purr about them nor did we lament their lack of stopping power.

Driven sensibly and serenely, the dCi 110 is a wonderfully easy-going vehicle in which to cover distance. It's also pretty good on fuel, because we emphatically did not drive entirely sensibly and serenely during an 80-mile looping test route in County Durham and yet the car, a mere stripling with just 440 miles on the clock, reckoned it was doing 50.3mpg overall. We've no doubt that once the engine loosens up with more distance, and with the Megane cruising along a motorway, getting on for 70mpg would not be out of the question.

Verdict

Good, sensible, five-door hatchback characteristics are smattered with just enough interesting details to make the new Renault Megane dCi 110 well worth considering as an alternative to the established triumvirate of the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra. The French car's chief weapons are its handsome and individualistic exterior, a fine cabin dominated by that superb, tablet-esque infotainment screen and digital dash and a cultured demeanour out on the roads that is as good as anything else in class. There are sharper-driving cars in the segment for keener types, while there are also competitors that offer a little more value-for-money than the Megane, but with the lowest claimed service/maintenance costs and competitive tax/economy data, there are more than enough reasons to put the Renault on your shopping list of C-segment hatchbacks.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 22 Jul 2016









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2016 Renault Megane dCi 110. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane dCi 110. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane dCi 110. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane dCi 110. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane dCi 110. Image by Renault.

2016 Renault Megane dCi 110. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane dCi 110. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane dCi 110. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane dCi 110. Image by Renault.2016 Renault Megane dCi 110. Image by Renault.








 

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