The 2nd generation Megane is a vast improvement from the 1st generation. It has finally lost all its resemblance with the out-dated Renault 19. It made debut as an entirely new car in 2002. Its wheel base was increased by 10 inches which helped to make the rear seats more comfortable. In 2006 the Megane received a facelift that changed its serious facial expression to a smiley and jolly appearance.
Around the turn of the century, the Renault's designers were becoming increasingly bold. Not only they came out with two of the weirdest production cars in the world (Avantime and Vel Satis) they dared to translate the same design features in the mainstream Megane. Although, if you look at the characteristic rear-side of the car, you can see that it's not new as a similar theme can be found on the early 1960s Citroen Ami. Despite the very unusual appearance, the Megane cannot be called ugly, and for a non-conformist car they've had pretty impressive sales figures.
A year after its debut, the car won the European Car of The Year contest showing that motoring journalists and specialists rated it highly. With the new design, the Megane was also trying to establish itself as a sportier car by offering an upgraded coupe version. They decided to drop the cabrio and coupe versions and offer a single versatile car to replace them. The Megane CC has a retractable roof on a coupe body and could act as either a cabrio or coupe.
When creating the interior space, it's obvious that the Renault designers have let their heart rule their head. Emotionally, it looks modern and attractive, but the moment you start thinking about ergonomics and ease of use, it starts losing its charisma. The controls and switches are placed awkwardly, the dials are difficult to read, especially when they're backlit. You'll spend quite a bit of time figuring out how things work in this car.
The new Megane is a very safe car. It received 5 stars in the EuroNCAP safety test, the first compact family car to achieve this feat.
The 2nd generation Megane is available with 1.4-litre 80-98bhp, 1.6-litre 116bhp, 2.0-litre 136-165bhp, 2.0-litre turbo 165bhp petrol engines and 1.5-litre 86-106bhp, 1.9-litre 120-130bhp and 2.0-litre 150-160bhp diesel engines.
There is quite a misbalance between speed and economy. The 1.4-litre petrol engine is very efficient. It will allow you get 40 miles per gallon. On the other hand, the engine is so weak that you hardly notice its presence. The 1.6 engine is better, although the acceleration it offers is not great either.
It's a good idea to look at the diesel Megane's. Both the 1.9-litre and 2.0-litre diesels offer fuel economy of around 50mpg and they can take the car to 60mph in less than 10 seconds.
It's not bad, but the soft suspension means that the car is very responsive to what you're doing. It'll try to dive each time you touch the brake pedal and stick the nose upwards as you accelerate. It doesn't affect the Megane's with smaller engines, because to call it acceleration would be an exaggeration. There's also a certain amount of body roll, although the car is unlikely to lose control even at high speeds, it's a very safe car.
One thing you are going to like is the steering. Although it is electronically assisted, the French engineers have got it right by employing various automatic settings. So, when driving in town, the steering wheel will be light and easy and when driving fast on a highway, it will harden considerably making sure you don't oversteer into a barrier.
The gearboxes make driving a Megane less exciting. The manual box's lever has to travel quite a lot to switch between gears. Switching is not precise and it takes more time than usual. Don't expect the auto transmission to behave any better as it will have a mind of its own, especially if it's seen a significant mileage.
The switches and knobs are not only placed awkwardly, they are also prone to failures. The dashboard was created rather hastily and although things improved after the 2006 face-lift, some electric system problems still kept following the Megane's right until the end of the 2nd generation production.
The soft suspension is bound to suffer at a certain point and will require repair. The most expensive thing that can go wrong on a Megane is the auto gearbox. Other than that, the car is reliable and hard-wearing.
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