Here is another older review for you to enjoy via the We Try Anything review platform. This was again written in 2009 so please bear that in mind when reading the review. Also, there is a hindsight section at the bottom of the review to see what we think nine years later since Tony wrote this article below. Hope you enjoy the article!
What do you say when you get a free brand new Renault Megane to drive for the weekend?
Most people would ask how did you do that, others would simply ask why a Renault Megane?
Well, not the most popular of cars on the road at the minute, I have only seen two in the past two weeks and one of them was the one I was driving. It was a freebie that I caught on a great website called www.hotukdeals.com. A website that I have followed for some time and when I had seen the offer of a free Renault Megane test drive courtesy of AVIS, I jumped at the chance!!
The car turned up Friday morning at work, delivered by AVIS themselves. Looking at it through one of the windows at work I have to say it looked an impressive beast. The model I had was a 1.6 110 petrol version with a slightly uprated spec, cruise control, fog lights, alloys etc and was a metallic Gun Metal grey. From the side the car has a great profile, the back looks very sporty but where I believe most of the design time has been spent is on the front, an aggressive but handsome look which, I can imagine after all the Research and Development spent, cuts the air very well.
The AVIS representative handed me the key and I have to say it’s not a key in the conventional sense, ie a blipper and a metal key you would normally use to start a car. It’s more of a block of plastic, like my mobile phone just with a lot fewer buttons – but with more technology. Other than the usual locking and unlocking of doors, there is a boot unlocking key and a button to turn on the main beam of the car. I can only imagine that this is to help you in the dark where you can get extra illumination when opening your front door. This detail did lead to some fun as I was turning on the lights as people walked passed the car and turning them off as they walked on with a bit of a bemused look, as though the car was flashing at them. All operated in the comfort of my own home, at least 15 metres away, so it’s got good range!!
The interior had an air of quality with various switchgear in easy to reach places. It felt well put together though I haven’t really driven Renaults of old so I can only compare it to some of the cars I have driven in the past and the interior does have that German, BMW’ish feel – miles away from the current car I am driving.
Firing up the car was unique, slotting the card key in the tailor-made hole, felt like I was visiting my Bank’s ATM machine, which fired up the electrics and turned off the immobiliser, then de-press the push button START/STOP engine button which seems to be the norm in these mid-range family cars, I had a test drive of a BMW 1 series about a year ago which had the same feature.
Engine fired up, time for a drive – London here we come!
With my son in the back and my girlfriend next to him making sure that he was entertained all the way down to Wimbledon, it was time to drive off. My girlfriend commented on how there was a second sunroof in this model, the problem was that we couldn’t open it as you would a normal sunroof and you could only hide it with its cover and with the sun beating down on her throughout the journey she had decided to close it, I don’t know all that money spent on developing the second sunroof in a newly designed car and it just gets closed off.
The steering felt light on original take off and as the car got quicker I could feel more resistance making the steering feel heavier. I didn’t feel that this was a bad point as it added to more of its solidity and quality feel, felt very assuring.
The acceleration was not whites of your teeth, but it was sure-footed and you knew that for a 1.6 there was a bit of power in reserve whenever you needed it. It was quiet on acceleration and there was a minimum of fuss to the whole 0 to 60 affair. The gearing felt assured and for a newbie to a French car, there was no crunching the gears as the gear layout was instinctive and easy to follow. Never had driven a car with 6 gears, but even in the 6 gear on a B-road there was still some oomph and I didn’t hear the engine struggle trying to supply the 6th gear with power. The one feature of this car that I did find impressive while going through the gears was not on the gear stick but in the instrument panel. There was a white gear symbol on the rev counter which threw me a first as there would be a momentarily up arrow next to it and then a down arrow later, later I found that (after reading the instructions – well I am a typical bloke) this was the car indicating to me with the arrows that following the up arrow to go up a gear and down arrow to gear down you get the best fuel economy. Which I found became more of a game and started to rule my driving habit. Loved the idea of it but I found that I was looking out for the arrows more than the road. Soon ignored it for my own safety!!
On the motorway, to London, the car felt safe, solid and cruised with no problems. The fuel computer was telling me that I was averaging 38.4 mpg, so not too bad in the economy stakes, but where the car shone for me was the cruise control.
I have never really driven a car with cruise control before, it was a revelation! Easy to set up and was great to use, was even doing an Irish jig to show my partner the benefits of it. It had made the whole trip a doddle, even on the M25 where the speeds were a more pedestrian 50mph as it was a busy Saturday early afternoon. The other benefit of cruise control was that I didn’t have the usual pain in my right foot from constantly balancing the accelerator to keep up the speed on the Motorway, a nice change from my usual long distances that I have embarked on in other cars.
Once in Greater London and on the A3, I could see that there were speed restrictions and cameras governing that fact which gave me the opportunity to engage the speed limiter feature of the car. Set to 50mph and turned on for the whole of the A3 experience I found that with its use I wasn’t constantly staring at the speedo or looking out for that dreaded double flash of the GATSO. I loved this feature alone, it took the worry out of worrying about speed cameras and allowed me to concentrate on the madcap traffic that was happening before me. Both cruise control and speed limiting features are definitely on my wishlist for my next car!!
Arriving at my destination, 120 miles away from home, I didn’t feel tired, my joints didn’t ache and my partner had fallen asleep in the back. I was impressed with the journey and after a couple of hours in Wimbledon, I was looking forward to the drive back and especially in those nicely moulded, big stitched, sporty like seats I know it would be a coach like drive back to the West Midlands.
My overall impression of the car was a very positive one. It’s not a car I would have considered for my next purchase at first but it would be a serious contender and I am sure that as Renault is a member of the UK Scrappage scheme with the government-backed price reductions it would be a very tempting decision indeed.
Through its solidity and great build quality, I would definitely say that it’s not a car that shakes it ass but more importantly parks its ass nicely on the road and gets on with the job with no fuss or worry.
In hindsight and after nine years…
Tony really did enjoy his weekend with the Renault Megane, it was brand new and full of the kind of technology that you would have associated with the late noughties. He says that it would be interesting to see how it would compare with a Megane of 2018, nine years later just to see how good it is and how it drives on the same type of journey. If anyone at Renault is reading this Tony would love another go!!
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Pictures via www.netcarshow.com