A family hatchback needs to be all things to all people, everything from transport to the shops and the tip to wheels for a summer holiday. Running costs need to be sensible and there needs to be quite a lot of kit. It’s a lot to ask.
A 1.5-litre diesel engine seems about right for this sector, and its 108bhp is fine as it allows a claimed fuel consumption of 76.4mpg which gives it only 96g/km of CO2. However, although the car cruises pleasantly it takes a bit more effort to get there as the Mégane is carrying a bit of weight compared to rivals like the Skoda Octavia.
That means working the engine harder quite often, but that’s not too big as issue as the controls are light and the six-speed manual gearbox is slick and precise. Pushing on shows a fair bit of body roll so the tendency is to back off. However the steering is precise and that softer springing means the ride is rather comfortable under most conditions.
Some thumps will get through to the cabin, but otherwise it’s a tidy interior untroubled by too much disturbance. The 8.7in infotainment screen works well, and the whole cabin seems nicely laid out. There’s adequate space although both rear passenger space and boot space are noticeably more restricted than in competitors like the Skoda Octavia.
That’s sort of the issue really. This is a better Mégane than the last model and would make a perfectly decent family set of wheels. But it doesn’t operate in isolation. Cars like the diesel-powered Vauxhall Astra and Skoda Octavia have lower emissions and better performance while the Skoda whups it for space and the Vauxhall beats it on price. You have choices to make.
Renault Mégane 1.5dCi 110
Engine size: 1.5-litre diesel
Price: from £17,900
Torque: 192lb ft
Top speed: 116mph
Fuel economy: (official combined) 76.4mpg
CO2/BIK band: 96g/km/19%