New engines help Mégane to deliver top fuel economy
RENAULT has always strived to stay ahead of the game and on the evidence of a drive in the new
RENAULT has always strived to stay ahead of the game and on the evidence of a drive in the new Mégane, the French carmaker is maintaining its commitment to the future without compromising past achievements.
The Mégane story began when the first generation of the range replaced the Renault 19 in the early Nineties.
This so-called C-segment “hatchback” market has emerged as one of the most important in Europe. Renault says in terms of profit, “it remains a key segment for any manufacturer”.
But Renault challenged the concept of what cars would sell in this segment with the evolving Mégane.
The first two versions of the Mégane hatchback and coupé appeared in September 1995. By 1998, Mégane manufacturing output was riding high with 3,400 units being produced every day, and the model — now including the Mégane Estate — dominated the French market. It also became Europe’s bestselling car. Incredibly, Mégane maintained this top spot up to 2004.
The three-door Sport Hatch and five-door Hatch version of Mégane II launched in 2002 demanded heavy investment in Douai, France and Palencia, Spain, where Hatch and Sport Hatch were built, as well as Bursa in Turkey. Total investment in Mégane II at this time was 2.1 billion euros.
In 2002, the Mégane Hatch became the first car in its class to be awarded a five-star rating in the Euro NCAP crash test programme, setting a benchmark that was matched again by the Coupé-Cabriolet version in 2004 becoming the first car in its class to achieve this important accolade. Between 2002 and 2005, some 2.32 million Mégane II variants were sold.
Bringing the Mégane story up to date, the 2008 Paris Motor Show saw the unveiling of both the New Mégane Hatch and Mégane Coupé. These models were the pathfinders of an all-new range that extended to six different models by spring 2010 and the introduction of the Coupé-Cabriolet.
The Mégane range has since undergone significant revision for the 2012 model year, most notably with the introduction of new and revised engines that exploit Stop & Start technology and other advanced engineering to deliver top fuel economy and CO2 emissions performance.
So with its antecedents intact, how does the car drive these days? I have to report with significant driver satisfaction. There is an element that with a car with such a history, its reinvention has to be measured by the advances of other newer models but the Mégane range still very much holds its own. And as I said at the beginning of this article, Renault has never looked anywhere other than to the future of car manufacturing with a keen eye.
The Hatch and Coupé ranges benefited from significant revisions with the introduction of Mégane 2012. Mégane 2012 Hatch and Coupé gain the new 1.2-litre TCe Stop & Start, a petrol engine that achieves diesel-like performance with a combined cycle consumption figure of 53.3mpg and just 119g/km CO2 emissions.
And like a diesel, it is tuned to offer excellent pulling power from low engine speeds and across a broad rev range. The line-up also includes a substantially revised version of the 1.5 dCi 110 unit, now with Stop & Start.
Completing the trio is the 1.6 dCi 130 Stop & Start, the world’s most powerful and most frugal engine of its size at the time of launch. Its headline performance figures are 70.6 mpg (combined) and 104g/km CO2.