The new-generation 2016 Renault Megane hatch made its world premiere at the Frankfurt motor show today, ahead of a European launch early next year and relatively swift arrival in Australia in the second half of 2016.
Renault’s new-look Megane hatchback moves the game forward for the brand in a number of ways, and will give the French brand’s fast-growing Australian arm a big boost, given it competes in the market’s biggest segment.
Poised to offer a sporty, stylish answer to fellow budget Euros such as the Volkswagen Golf and Peugeot 308, as well as the likes of the Mazda 3, the new Megane could in fact overtake the Clio as the company’s top-seller here.
That is provided Renault Australia can push past the weakening dollar and source the new Megane from its Spanish plant affordably — something a few mainstream brands are beginning to feel the pinch on. The current Megane five-door hatch sells for between $20,990 and $39,990 plus on-road costs.
“No doubt exchange pressure is going to become an increasingly heavy burden for us and any other vehicle manufacturer sourcing from Europe,” Renault Australia managing director Justin Hocevar told us this week.
Leading the Megane charge will be the GT designed in tandem with Renault Sport, replete with novel 4Control four-wheel steering, a 152kW turbo-petrol engine linked to a seven-speed dual clutch auto (and a 123kW diesel), sportier interior and exterior elements and a retuned chassis.
Naturally, a more hardcore Megane RS will premiere next year, or perhaps in 2017. However, this successor to the raw, beloved three-door that sells up a storm in Australia will become a five-door only car like the Clio RS, and may drop the manual. That latter part remains unclear at this time.
Renault is talking up the new ‘regular’ Megane hatch, which offers very dynamic styling that moves well away from the current car. The pert, rounded lines rather resemble the Clio, most notably around the rear three-quarter area.
It also gets a “raft of technologies from the next segment up”, with higher-spec’d versions getting the 8.7-inch touchscreen with Renault’s latest-generation ‘R-Link 2’ infotainment software and smartphone-style swiping, a heads-up display, and a TFT instrument display ahead of the driver.
There’s also a range of driver aids from the premium European Talisman and Espace, comprising radar-guided cruise control, autonomous brakes, traffic light recognition, blind-spot monitor, and parking assist. Whether it follow the Clio and Captur and ditches rear side airbags remains unclear.
Some, though not all, Australia variants of the new Megane will get these features - but they’ll at least be options.
Renault claims also to have upped the ante in terms of cabin quality and presentation, with improved fit-and-finish, more soft-touch finishes and full-grain Nappa leather on high-end versions. There’s also adjustable ambient lighting with different colour schemes.
The seats (with optional driver massage function) are actually shared with the Espace and Talisman from several segments up.
Belying its looks, the new Megane is 64mm longer (4359mm) and 25mm lower (1447mm) than the outgoing model. It has wider tracks and its wheelbase (+28mm) is longer than that of rival models. The rear overhang has been shortened, keeping the design sharp.
As such, it is spacious. The 434-litre boot is the second biggest in the C segment and is complemented by interior stowage space totalling 25L. Rear knee room and shoulder room are both up as well.
The bigger cabin and use of upmarket cabin bits is enabled by the fact the new Megane is based on Renault’s CMF C/D architecture — an architecture that also underpins the likes of the Kadjar, Espace, Talisman and Nissan Qashqai/X-Trail/European Pulsar.
In terms of mechanicals, Renault is keeping details relatively scarce, though you’ll see (what appear to be carryover) 96kW 1.2-litre turbocharged TCe 130 petrol and 82kW 1.5-litre turbocharged dCi 110 diesel versions in Australia.
Both will likely come with the options of either a six-speed manual gearbox price-leader, and a new EDC dual-clutch automatic with seven speeds on the petrol, or a six-speed EDC with the diesel. Diesel versions have at times made up almost one-third of current ‘regular’ Megane sales locally.
Above these will be the aforementioned 152kW petrol and 123kW diesel GT warm/hot hatches. The former will replace the manual-only 162kW/340Nm GT220 Megane sold currently — which offer more power but likely more weight, though figures haven’t been revealed — with the key being the addition of a seven-speed EDC. Alas, for enthusiasts, there will be no manual.
These GT versions, pitched as Golf GTI rivals, will offer Renault Sport-tuned chassis’, racier designs inside and out and four-wheel steering.
The Megane also gets Renault’s Multi-Sense adjustable driving modes system, which modifies accelerator pedal and engine response, adjusts the speed of the gearshifts performed by the EDC automatic transmission and even controls the massage function of the seats and the cabin lighting environment.
These adjustments are according to various modes, namely ‘Sport’, ‘Normal’, ‘Comfort’, ‘Perso’ and ‘Eco’. On the GT version, the eco button is replaced by a hardcore RS Drive button.
Good news for wagon lovers, too. Following the launch of the Megane globally in 2016 will be the addition of the new Megane estate, which is confirmed for an Australian arrival in 2017.
What do you think of the new Megane hatch? We reckon it’s pretty slick. Tell us below.