2012 Renault Megane review

* Face-lifted Renault Megane driven * Priced from 16,275 * On sale now...

2012 Renault Megane review

The Renault Megane has been given a subtle face-lift and three efficient new engines with stop-start technology for 2012.

On the outside, the update which affects the Coupe and Sport Tourer, as well as the five-door hatch brings a new front bumper, LED daytime running lights and fresh alloys.

Inside, theres some smarter trim, including an optional two-tone leather pack.

Renault has introduced a turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol unit that's both 25% more efficient than the old 1.6 and 5bhp more powerful.

Theres also a revised version of Renaults 109bhp 1.5-litre diesel, which is 15% more efficient with average economy of 80.7mpg, while CO2 emissions are down to just 95g/km.

A 128bhp 1.6-litre diesel with average economy of 70.6mpg and emissions of 104g/km compared with the 55.4mpg and 135g/km managed by the 128bhp 1.9 it replaces is the final addition to the range.

Whats the 2012 Megane like to drive?
We tried a five-door hatch with the 1.2-litre turbo engine, and this is more flexible than the outgoing 1.6 because it has an extra 29lb ft of torque and delivers it lower in the rev range.

Dont think this means the new 1.2 feels as gutsy as a turbodiesel, though; you still have to drop a gear and rev the engine quite hard if you want lively acceleration.

Our test Renault Megane came in the GT-Line trim, which gets bigger wheels and lowered suspension. This makes the ride distinctly hard, but the upside is tight body control in bends.

The Meganes steering lets you place the car with confidence, too, but the gearshift is vague and overly long.

Wind noise intrudes at motorway cruising speeds.

Whats the 2012 Megane like inside?
The cabin is built from high-grade materials, but some of the controls are harder to operate than they should be.

Its much easier to find a comfortable driving position, because theres a wide range of adjustment and plenty of space up front. However, six-footers will feel cramped in the back, and narrow rear door openings can make access tricky.

The hatchbacks boot is large and well shaped, while the Sport Tourers is absolutely huge.

Should I buy one?
Despite the improvements, the Renault Megane isnt going to worry class-leading hatches such as the Ford Focus and VW Golf.

Yes, the new engines are a lot more efficient than the ones they replace, but they dont give the Renault Megane a significant advantage over its rivals, and the ride and rear space are as disappointing as ever.

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What Car? says

Steve Huntingford