Friday, 18 August 2017

Winning safety feature is 'purr' for the course

Winning safety feature is 'purr' for the course

I AM not a cat lover — neither do I have anything against them — yet I have always understood that the sound of purring was a display of contentment.

In this week’s drive, the all-new Renault Mégane Sport Tourer, something akin to the sound of a cat purring meant the opposite — it was a positive display of discontentment.

That is, the car’s computer management system was advising me in the nicest possible way to correct my driving line.

So each time — above a certain speed — the car “purred”, it was telling me that I needed to pay attention to my lane discipline.

This worked on either side of the vehicle: if I strayed over the lane line into the next carriageway without signalling to overtake, then the car would indicate its displeasure.

If I wandered too close kerbside, again the car would give a prominent “purr” to remind me to get back in line.

Such are the things that modern technology in cars is made of. Actually, on the Mégane Sport Tourer, Renault calls this Lane Departure Warning (LDW).

LDW is active at speeds of more than 44mph if the driver unintentionally crosses a line without first indicating. Now call me old-fashioned, but I still like to indicate when I am changing lanes on a motorway (or dual carriageway).

I know there are many what I would consider arrogant drivers who no longer see a need for this elementary part of safe driving.

But of course no one can have any idea of the intentions of the driver in the car in front (or behind).

For a start, you have no inkling who might be at the wheel. So drivers today need all the electronic help they can get to be safe.

And that is why I believe that the “purring” presence of LDW in the Mégane Sport Tourer is an absolute winner. It goes hand-in-hand with Renault’s laudable commitment to safety.

The Mégane Sport Tourer received a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating in late-2015 thanks to a host of driver assistance systems, which reassure and warn drivers for ease of driving.

“Passive safety systems” contributed in part to the five-star rating — four airbags, including two-stage auto-adaptive and curtain airbags. For 15 years, Renault has worked to prevent occupants from sliding beneath their seat belt in a head-on impact thanks to technology.

To develop this technology, Renault used crash test dummies and has emphasised seat ergonomics and the positioning of seat belt anchor points.

At the risk of showering you with acronyms, the other safety features besides LDW worth mentioning are ACC, AEB and SDW.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) automatically adjusts the Mégane Sport Tourer’s speed to maintain a pre-selected distance from the vehicle in front.

This is done through radar technology that evaluates the gap and then communicates with the engine and braking system. It functions between 31mph and 90mph.

Active Emergency Braking (AEB) works between 19 and 90mph, first alerting the driver to the risk of a collision with the vehicle ahead and then braking automatically to avoid or minimise the effects.

Safe Distance Warning (SDW) helps the driver to maintain safe stopping distances from 19mph to 125mph.

This new Mégane Sport Tourer is lower than the outgoing model, and has a longer wheelbase.

Its C-shaped LED headlights remain permanently lit with 3D-effects when the engine is switched on. Higher trim levels have Renault’s LED Pure Vision technology, which brings full LED lights and automatic switching between dipped and main beam.

At the rear of the car, the lights are also permanently lit. Benefiting from Edge Light technology, they work to create a 3D effect.

A capless fuel filler is available on all versions. The spring-loaded filler door eliminates the need to remove a cap when refuelling.

The centre console and instrument panel contain the multimedia tablet and seven-inch TFT display.

There are five upholstery options on the Mégane Sport Tourer, all in black. Heated front seats are available, as well as an electrically adjustable lumbar support on the driver’s seat. Rear seating has been revised with available legroom among the best in this model segment (at 216mm).

The Mégane Sport Tourer also has storage bins on each side of the boot and a luggage safety net.

It is also possible to separate the boot into two compartments, front and rear, to prevent items from sliding around.

The Mégane Sport Tourer is available with “Multi-Sense” technology, allowing owners to personalise their driving experience.

Multi-Sense can be used to modify the accelerator pedal and engine response, engine sound, steering weight, interior lighting ambience through a choice of five colours and — where fitted — the speed of the Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) gear changes.

Multi-Sense is accessed via the R-LINK 2 display through a button on the centre console.

There are five pre-defined driving programmes: Neutral, Sport, Comfort, Perso and Eco. There are also Neutral, Sport and Comfort engine sounds.

The five interior lighting options are sepia, red, blue, purple and green, and illuminate the centre console (and door panels in higher-spec models).

All-New Renault Mégane Sport Tourer Dynamique S dCi 130

Price as tested: £26,950

Key features on all Dynamique S Nav include:

l Lane Departure Warning

l Automatic high / low beam

l Rear parking camera

l Front and rear parking sensors

l Cruise Control

l Speed limiter

l Electronic parking brake

l ESP with Anti-Skid and Understeer Control

l Hill Start Assist (HSA)

l Six airbags

l Alarm and immobiliser

l 17-inch ‘Florida’ diamond cut alloy wheels

l LED Daytime Running Lights

l Front fog lights

l Multi-Sense – personalised driving modes and ambient lighting

l Carbon Black upholstery

l Seven-inch TFT screen with digital speedometer

l Height and lumbar adjustment to driver and passenger seat

Motoring

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