20 October 2004
Renault Megane II sedan

Renault Megane II sedan

Radically the same

Review | Renault has guts. Not only has the French manufacturer been the first to come up with different concepts, but also where design is concerned Renault sometimes takes radical steps. At its introduction the Megane created quite a stir with a backside that seemed to have been designed in the opposite direction of traffic. At the same time the car was praised for its well-considered interior and unprecedented high level of safety. The car in this test is hardly seen on public roads, but it combines all advantages of the Megane with the traditional look of a sedan: the Megane Sport Saloon.
 

We asked for it, but especially on a car park packed with the hatchback version of the Megane, a sedan looks very conservative. Even a grey and conservative accountant in dustcoat would consider this to be an inconspicuous car. The charm that makes the hatchback so popular has completely vanished by the addition of a "boot". On the other hand it does offer an enormous luggage space. The back seat too is now more easily accessible and offers considerably more room than average in this segment.

Start button

Like any other Megane, this model has no key either. It merely has a card with buttons to unlock the doors. After that the card is put in a slot in the centre console and all that is needed to start the engine is to press a button. Chances of getting confused over the necessary procedure are minimal, because the display near the speedometer is showing instructions.

Renault Megane II sedan

Moreover the start button is not only just a nice gadget, but also the first of many safety features that make the Megane into something special. The ignition is usually situated in the steering wheel column close to the driver's knee. The hard cylinder of the lock therefore often causes knee injuries in case of an accident. While other manufacturers simply move the lock (Smart / Saab), Renault makes the whole thing superfluous.

Ergonomics

Another part of the safety package is the headrests, which are adjustable almost up to the roof of the car. Even the tallest drivers are safe in the Megane. It is a shame though that these particularly safe headrests are part of a sensationally dull interior of this test vehicle. The black/grey chequered fabric and black/grey interior apparently had to strike a contrast to the radical design of the car.

Except for the looks of the car, every part has been reconsidered. From the adjustment of the seats to the fuel cap: everything is different, everything is smarter. Dull or not: the test vehicle is extremely comprehensive. Cruise control, air-conditioning, a rain sensor, an extensive on-board computer and a radio/cd-player are all standard. The latter sounds, even though it is the most simple version, surprisingly good.

Renault Megane II sedan

Safety

All passive safety (=absorbing the crash) is well taken care of and therefore Renault scores high points in crash tests. But much more important is the active safety (=preventing the crash) and that too is well taken care of from the start. Almost straight away the road holding qualities of the Megane are convincingly excellent. "Almost straight away", for steering around the middle is slightly vague. Even when using the car for a longer period one does not really get used to this. Road holding doesn't suffer from it, driving pleasure however does.

The brakes leave no shadow of a doubt: these are of an outstanding quality. When taking the Megane out for a test drive, it would be advisable to first test the brakes. If not, all passengers will soon meet the safety belts.

The test vehicle has a 1.6 16v engine, which is the most popular of the ten available engines. Although the power source according to Renault is good for an impressive 115 horsepower, in practice this is not very obvious. The character is frankly rather docile. A good performance is possible, but it doesn't come whole-heartedly. Merging in with traffic however is no problem at all and with 60 litres in the fuel tank the Megane will go a long way.

Renault Megane II sedan

Conclusion

The sedan version of the Renault Megane has the reliable appearance of an average car and offers lots of luggage space. Furthermore the sedan offers all well-known advantages of the Megane. The most important one being a high level of safety, good road holding qualities and several useful ergonomical solutions. In every way the car is just that little bit better thought through than the competition. Therefore the Megane as a sedan is not just an average car.

plus
  • Excellent road holding
  • Concept is well thought through
  • Good safety, active as well as passive
min
  • Unusually dull interior
  • Awkward scale on speedometer
  • Car seats uncomfortable on longer distances