Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016
- A great-looking car prior to the 1999 facelift
- Low maintenance and running cost
The 1st generation Megane is essentially a carefully upgraded Renault 19. Hence many parts of the car, including the engines and running gear, are very 'eighties'. That doesn't mean that the Megane is entirely bad car, but despite of the modern looks, you cannot help but get the feeling that you're driving an old car.
Exterior and Interior
When it appeared, it a breeze of fresh air in what was otherwise a stagnant late-90s car market. It's a beautiful car with an aggressive front end, but unfortunately in 1999 Renault decided to downgrade the visual impact and introduced a horrible facelift version that very few people liked.
The Megane comes with a range of versatile body styles including the 5-door hatchback, 3-door coupe, 2-door cabrio and a sedan. The car was initially designed as a hatchback, so converting it into a 3-volume body makes it rather silly, it was no wonder that very few sedans were sold.
The interior is not very inspiring. It is better than the Renault, but not miles away from the 80s car. The designers have tried to lighten it up using patterns and new materials, however, the quality still remains average.
Performance and Economy
New E-type engines (nothing to do with Jaguar E-Type) were introduced in the Renault 19 to replace the old-school Renault engines. They were not bad, reliable and hard working, but when it comes to Renault engines, it largely depends on the number of valves.
The 1.4-litre 8-valve engine lacks any character and provided a return of 37mpg. The same engine with 16 valves is much more powerful and will stretch each gallon by an extra 5 miles (42mpg). Those who are looking for extra performance might want to look at the 1.6-litre engine. The 110bhp version provides great speed, agility and still keeps the fuel consumption around 40mpg.
The direct injection diesel is not bad. It delivers 54mpg and provides exceptional dynamics. The old-style diesel is quite disappointing, taking an age to accelerate and only returning 42mpg.
The cabriolet and coupe modifications are only available with 1.6 or 2.0-litre engines. The latter is a great engine, but compared to the 1.6-litre version it is more thirsty only achieving 30mpg or less.
Like to Drive
The handling on the Megane was pretty average. It lacked steering finesse even on the sporty models. The mechanical gearboxes can stick, but if they are good condition they will be fine and are average to use, the same unfortunately cannot be said about the auto gearbox. All in all, the car was definitely not best on the market and you are probably better off looking elsewhere unless you really love the styling.
Faults and Repairs
The Megane is not the most reliable car that you can find. Many parts are borrowed from the Renault 19 and it still suffers from certain older Renaults' ailments. On the positive side, the engines are reliable and hard-working. Today, people choose a 1st generation Megane for one reason, the cheap price. With older Meganes it is a matter of luck because the cars vary by the level of maintenance that they've received from the previous owners. It is safer to buy hatchback and sedan modifications. In many cases the cabrio and coupe has been driven by people who were looking for cheap sporty cars, hence the sporty Meganes suffer from rough and patchy upkeep, and they will have been driven hard.
The automatic gearbox has never been good, even when the car was new. Buying a used Renault with an auto gearbox is not at all a good idea. If you manage to find a well-kept Megane, it will definitely be great value for money. It is much cheaper than other cars competing in the same sector and in many cases almost as good. Megane's usually come with high miles so finding an example with less than 100,000 miles on the clock would be considered extremely lucky. Due to the age of the car and compatibility with Renault 19, spare parts are very cheap.