Renault started off 2012 with a drastic product reshuffle in Europe. In a bid to trim the fat and enhance profitability the Kangoo (the car version, not the van), the Modus, the Laguna, the Laguna Coupe, the Wind and the Espace were all dropped. I have family who own a Renault Modus and besides the headlights going to sleep every now and then, it is a brilliant little mini-mpv. I was sad to see Renault turning its back on it.
Nevertheless, that still leaves Renault with the Sandero, Clio, Twingo, Fluence, Koleos, Scenic and Megane ranges on sale here in South Africa. While overseas the Twizy Z.E., Fluence Z.E., Zoe Z.E., are beginning to kick start a repositioning of the Renault brand worldwide. A repositioning you can’t help but feel South Africa will be excluded on due to a lack of infrastructure. But that is a discussion for another time.
Of all the non Z.E. (zero emissions) cars left in the Renault showroom, the Megane must surely be the kingpin, the talisman, the most important car Renault has, and therefore the most worthy car for some tender love and attention. The Megane ‘2012 Collection’ has now undergone some minor exterior tweaks and benefits from more extra technology under the skin. The introduction of its best diesel engine yet will follow in October.
First off though, let’s explore those external changes. The entire Megane range has received a revised front fascia and a gloss black finish to the bumpers. There are new alloy wheel designs, chrome trim on their air intakes and LED lights on ‘Dynamique’ and GT-Line cars. You would need to be quite a stickler to really spot the differences between a ‘2012 Collection’ Megane and a 2011 counterpart. This is best explored when the old and the new are parked side by side. For a car bore like myself I can spot the difference easily and I have to say that the newer model is most certainly styled with a cleaner front design and definitely benefits visually from being less cluttered. I prefer the black gloss finish bumpers to even the higher spec chrome of the GT-Line cars with LED’s, if I’m being honest.
Best of all, the entry level ‘Expression’ model can be optioned with the LED lights but still have the uncluttered new grille for just R 5000. The Renault Megane Coupe-Cabriolet GT-Line we road tested this week does not get these frontal changes. Renault say the GT-Line is meant to be an in-between option for those who aspire to a RenaultSport model but can only handle or afford a normal Megane.
A new list of features now includes a superior audio system and optional extra goodies like a two tone leather pack or alcantara finish for the seats, new dashboard inserts, as well as a Visio system that adjusts the beams automatically between high and low. The same Visio system provides a new lane departure warning system too. It is a R 5 000 option. As is the R 5 000 rear parking camera.
Under the bonnet, for the two available models, Renault’s already very efficient engines are unchanged. The familiar, non-turbocharged 1.6 litre petrol unit remains as the entry level engine, while Europe receives a new, smaller, more powerful 0.9 litre and 1.2 litre turbo unit. The power and torque curves on the 1.6 are fairly flat but you do need to stir the gearbox to get some acceleration out of the little thing. The 1.6 has a six speed manual gearbox and delivers 81 kW and 151 Nm of torque.
It accelerates from standstill to 100 km/h in 10.5 seconds, and consumes fuel at 6.9L / 100 km for the combined cycle, with CO2 emissions of 159 g/km. At R 209 900 for both the Megane Coupe and Hatchback it does make for a good value package in ‘Expression’ spec. A higher spec 1.6 ‘Dynamique’ is also available and comes with 17 inch wheels, navigation system, eight airbags and the LED pack with colour coded side mouldings which improve the styling markedly. For the extra kit the asking price is only R 219 900. Good value that is.
The top spec Megane Coupe and Hatchback GT-Line vehicles get the turbo 1.4 litre TCe engine only and they offer fair performance with smooth torque delivery and good efficiency. The boosted motor produces 96 kW and 190 Nm of torque from low down in the rev range, making the GT-Lines run to 100 km/h in 9.7 seconds. Not blistering performance, but it’s a sweet engine nevertheless. It consumes 6.3L /100 km in the combined cycle, and produces 145 g of C02. Both the top of the range 1.4 TCe, GT-Line vehicles retail for R 249 900.
It is the 1.6 dCi ‘Energy Dynamique’ Hatchback (not offered as a Coupe and not available until October unfortunately) that we are looking forward to. It is the closest vehicle offered in South Africa to that of the typical Megane you will find in France. A new 1.6-litre dCi turbo-diesel engine replaces the larger displacement 1.9 dCi used in the outgoing model.
It boasts a Stop & Start function with braking / deceleration energy recovery and improved thermal management. The 1.6 dCi sports a 96 kW power output and 320 Nm of torque. It therefore performs almost identically to the 1.4TCe by accelerating to 100 km/h in 9.8 seconds but without the fuel consumption. More specifically, the 1.6 dCi Energy consumes just 4.0L / 100 km travelled on the combined cycle. That makes it 20% more economical than the 1.9 dCi and offers CO2 emissions of just 104 g per km. The 1.6 dCi ‘Energy Dynamique’ Hatchback will retail for R 269 900 when it arrives.
Yes we are told the new diesel engine will be a lot more efficient than the one it replaces, but is that – and a few tidied-up front arrangements really going to bother Renault’s big rivals? Hyundai, Volkswagen, Golf, Ford. To be honest, it is difficult to see that it will. However, I do like the black bumper and it is always startling to see just how much value Renault offer ahead of some of those competitors. The 1.6 ‘Dynamique’ for R 219 900 is excellent value, as is the cheaper ‘Expression’ for R 209 900. Unfortunately, at that price they are saddled with the slightly breathless, 1.6 engine.
Renault Megane ‘2012 Collection’ Pricing:
Hatchback / Coupe – 1.6 Expression: R 209 900
Hatchback / Coupe – 1.6 Dynamique: R 219 900
Hatchback / Coupe – 1.4 TCe GT-Line: R 249 900
Hatchback – 1.6dCi Expression: R 269 900
All prices include a 5-year / 150 000 km warranty and 5-year / 100 000 km service plan.