By Nick Jones
FAMILY hatchbacks in my younger days had five doors, not three.
But such is the desire nowadays to have a ‘sports coupe’ on the drive – one that you can take the family out in without looking as though your libido drove off on its own years ago – that three doors has become a quite common sight, albeit less convenient.
When a car looks as good as the latest version of the Renault Megane, however, having three doors and making the kids clamber over the front seats to get in the back doesn’t seem anywhere near so bad – not when you look this good behind the wheel when your not carting them about.
Getting rid of the rear doors and adding styling cues and/or kit could become an issue for some marques looking to appeal to ‘sportier’ family drivers, but I think Renault have nailed it with the Megane Coupe.
It’s a greatly-conceived piece of kit that looks stunning; it’s lower for a start than the standard hatchback by nearly 5cm, giving it a sportier stance.
The headlights sink into the bodywork instead of sticking out to give it a wider appearance and the deep front intake shouts performance.
Alloy wheels look smart under flared arches. At the back it’s all very technical but there seems to be the hint of a smile on the rear face. This Megane is a serious looker.
The choice of engines is the usual array of Renault petrols and diesels and which you choose will depend on whether you prioritise performance or economy.
Yes, the familiar 1.5dCi diesel is here, as is the 1.6-litre petrol, but they offer nothing more than adequate performance in return for their relative frugality.
Climb up the engine ladder and the next rung sees a punchy 1.9-litre diesel that offers 130bhp, which has to be the choice for all-round motoring, offering excellent power and torque and great miles-to-the-gallon figures.
If it’s a petrol turbo that you want then the 180bhp 2.0-litre should be your cup of tea, with its 7.5 second sprint to 60mph and top speed of over 140mph.
On the inside things are nicely calmed. There are definite styling cues from the Laguna so fit and finish is pretty good.
The instrument cluster now has a pronounced digital speedo that you definitely can’t miss.
The seats are very comfortable, the space is commendable and, although a few switches are on the small and awkward side, it’s a nice environment to drive in.
The usual Renault safety aspects are all there, probably more so than ever now (you seem to get more airbags every time a new model surfaces) plus there’s good room in the rear, despite that low roof line.
Trim levels are usual for Renault, taking in Expression, Dynamique or Privilege and are well stocked in terms of standard kit.
Expression gets a set of alloys, remote central locking, air conditioning, trip computer and front fogs. Next up, Dynamique adds tinted windows (a must have) cruise control, and an upgraded stereo system, and top of the pile Privilege adds just about every safety gizmo going plus leather trim and more.
You can expect the 1.9-diesel on a run get to 55mpg, the 1.5-litre can do ten more. Even the turbo petrol gets 35mpg. And all promise low emissions.
Five doors? Who needs them.
Prices start at just £18,555 and rise to £23,525.