With the new Mégane Coupe, Renault has ditched the challenging bustle-back look of the old three-door Mégane and opted for something more conventionally stylish. And it works too. The Alfa Romeo-esque Coupe has an elegant profile and great road presence, from its deeply sculpted bonnet to its muscular rear haunches. The interior is similarly appealing, with soft-touch surfaces and first-rate fit and finish (not something you could always say of previous Méganes). The seats are well bolstered and comfortable, though you wouldn’t want to be stuck in the back for a long journey.
But what you really want to know is how it drives. We tried the 178bhp petrol turbo, for which Renault claims a 0-62mph time of 7.8sec and a top speed of 142mph. Unfortunately it feels slower than the figures suggest. At 1320kg, it’s no lightweight, but it’s the way the power is delivered that disappoints. There’s just none of the urge you’d expect as the turbo spools up, and once the power peaks at 5500rpm, thrust tails off in an almost diesel-like fashion.
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It’s a great motorway cruiser, with relatively high gearing – 27mph per 1000rpm in top. The ride is good, too, with fine small-bump absorption and good body control over fast dips and crests. But Renault claims that this new Mégane is a more sporting drive than the car it replaces (compared with its five-door sibling, the Coupe sits some 12mm lower and has uprated spring and damper rates). The company has also done a fair bit of work to sharpen up the new car’s electric power steering – a variable-assistance set-up, light at parking speeds and weightier as you go faster.
The first thing you notice on high-speed sweepers is just how accurate and precise the steering is, with no need to constantly adjust through the corner. In tighter turns the steering feeds back a useful amount of information about grip levels and surface conditions. When it weights up at speed, it does so in a way that feels natural, and there’s a pleasingly balanced feel to the chassis at high speed.
It’s just not terribly involving. Lift off mid-corner and the line will tighten a smidgen, but there’s little in the way of throttle adjustability. This is a hugely capable car, no question, but just not huge fun. It’ll need a back-to-back drive to be sure, but we’d guess the VW Scirocco, the Coupe’s chief rival, is the better drive.
The Mégane’s good value though. Prices start at £14,745, while this 2.0 TCe Dynamique costs £18,145 and comes with a fine specification, including sat-nav, Bluetooth and a high-end sound system. The rumoured Renaultsport version should be well worth waiting for.