The fourth generation Megane has arrived as a swift departure from the reliable and comfortable but often bland previous generation – and it now also features a unified family that again includes the sedan body style.
Just as the Megane hatchback was very well received but often judged for its flaws so was the only saloon to receive a different moniker – Fluence. Assembled at the Oyak-Renault plant in Turkey for certain European markets or Argentina for Latin America, the model filled the gap left by the disappearance of the former Megane sedan, but with a twist. It was sized in between the compact family saloon C-segment and the upper-medium segment. Unfortunately, being offered on prestigious markets such as France, Germany, or Belgium was immediately seen as a “cheap” shot at making a profit with a car developed apparently for emerging markets. While the regular Megane was as popular as ever, the Fluence showed did show a number of issues – particularly lower level of interior quality compared to the compact siblings. Now Renault has decided to revert the model to its origins – it has been integrated as part of the Megane family with the Sedan denomination. And to make sure that popularity will go unabated this time, they chose not to release it (at least not yet) in certain markets – such as its home – and also style it very closely to the more upmarket Talisman. This is Renault playing it safe – and this time there’s also no difference when looking inside when compared to the hatchback for example. So, let’s see how the recipe works – for its intended markets.
By the way, it’s easy to see how the Megane Sedan places in the family strategy – the hatchback is the popular choice for urban dwellers, the Estate station wagon is for families and the Sedan is the perfect all-rounder or executive compact sedan. As such, the Megane Sedan serves a dual purpose – somebody might not care for the hatchback body version because it doesn’t necessarily dwell in urban areas and the Estate might be too much boot for everyday life – so emerging market shoppers still love the classic saloon body style. In addition, the Megane has always been a great fleet buy – meaning the Megane Sedan will most certainly enjoy a long life as an executive acquisition. And this time around there are basically no visual or creature comfort differences to the rest of the family – with the added benefit of emulating the bigger brother Talisman in terms of style.
Design, Interior and Gadgets
As far as the new Renault design is concerned, we’ve extensively covered the area in previous test drives – as we’re well acquainted with the regular or GT Megane, as well as the midsize Talisman. This time around we’re only going to reference the signature styling of the Megane Sedan in comparison to its hatchback sibling and the Talisman. In all other respects, we’ve already established the new design language of the Renault range makes both the Megane and talisman pretty much stand out in their respective segments. The Megane Sedan itself was apparently a pretty easy job for the Renault design team – the front end of the fourth generation Megane hatchback mixed with the saloon body style inspired by the Talisman. While setting apart the regular Megane from the Talisman is an easy job when seen from the side or rear, the same cannot be said about the Megane Sedan and talisman anymore. But first things first – the front end differentiation between the Megane and Talisman can be made by a keen observer (see them separately and you may mistake one for the other): the grille is much narrower on the compact and the lower bumper has different housings for the fog lights. Seeing the Megane Sedan and the Talisman from the side makes it much harder to identify the differences – the big saloon has longer front and rear overhangs, more chrome (but that depends on trim) and a third window behind the rear door. Meanwhile, the Megane Sedan seems a bit bulkier and its third window is actually part of the rear door. Seeing them from the back means you’ll have to look closely at the bumper (of course the dead giveaway is the badge name) – the Megane Sedan is treated in a sporty cue while the Talisman has huge, fake, angular exhaust tips. Or you can judge the taillights – the Talisman has a red square LED signature that goes uninterrupted. The Megane Sedan is different here even from the Megane hatchback, albeit only in detail, and the signature red LED strip is taking a wedge shape. All in all – if you go for the Talisman you might find yourself feeling angry when someone compares your higher priced midsize model to the Megane Sedan – but in turn the latter is expected to make the bulk of sales in markets where present, and the Talisman will remain there a less visible presence. This means Renault has avoided the “cannibalization” issue – important markets such as France or Germany might never see the Megane Sedan and thus remain “untainted” by a similar-looking cheaper compact model. This is because, to be honest, making out the Megane Sedan from the Talisman – where both available is a connoisseur job. Reasoning aside, the Megane Sedan is easily one of the best looking saloons on the market right now, with a sporty and distinct styling that will surely make you stand out from the crowd – either if it’s your personal or business car.
Moving inside, we can easily see how Renault kept the one thing that its predecessor did right – offer almost midsize interior space at compact price levels. This is because the Megane Sedan is 4.632 mm long, compared to Megane’s 4.359 mm and Talisman’s 4.848 mm tenure. Further along, the wheelbase exhibited by the saloon comes in at 2.711 mm, which is a bit more than its hatchback counterpart (2.669), thus making it effectively roomier inside. The Sedan version has surged past its predecessor’s dimensions as well – the Fluence was 4.618 mm long and had a wheelbase of 2.702 mm. This makes the Sedan decidedly more habitable than the hatchback – especially for rear passengers. Interestingly enough, the regular Megane is 1.447 mm high while the Sedan is now 1.443 millimeters. And because we need to get the issues out of the way first, the Sedan is also way lower than the Fleunce – which came in at 1479 mm. This is particulary visible when a tall driver is involved – especially if the Sedan is equipped with the glass roof as was the case with our test ride, shaving off an additional few interior millimeters in height. Fortunately, the back seat is now way more appealing than inside the hatchback – and can engulf way more luggage thanks to the 503 liters trunk, compared to Megane’s 384 liters. On the other hand, if you change the Fluence to the new Sedan you might notice it has gone down a notch from the 530 liters capacity. As far as positioning is concerned, the back seat can house three adults in reasonable conditions – and it can also become a family hauler with one regular child seat, an elevation seat and the additional third place for the… nanny or grandma’. Judging the other way around, two executives will comfortably share the back seat without… touching issues. Meanwhile, up front the same seats as in the regular Megane can be found, with good lateral support and particularly comfortable when long drives are involved. We did bask in the Confort Plus seats that will cost you some (1000 euro, but that’s market dependant as well) – and also include heat, leather upholstery and lumbar massage function.
As far as technology is concerned, you’ll again have to cave deeper into your pocket or the company bank account if you want the full experience. The entry-level Life version will only get you a “normal” 4.2 inch radio with Bluetooth, USB and Aux-In and if you have the meager Sce gasoline engine with 115 horsepower you won’t even have start/stop technology, for example. But Renault has an experience – the entry level version is not the bulk of sales. Better equipped versions are the bread and butter of the Megane, and this is for good reason. Go for the Intens version and you’ll be treated to the Renault Multi-Sense suite, seven inch digital instrument cluster and R-Link2 infotainment system with 7 inch or 8.7 inch portrait-oriented touchscreen, applications and navigation. The technology advancements brought by the fourth generation Megane are all present on the Sedan as well – so you can have the optional Easy Parking automated system, Drive Safely safety and assistance suite (active braking, adaptive cruise control, various other tech) and even things like hands free operated trunk or a head up display.
Engine, Transmission and Handling
With all creature comfort features on it, the Megane Sedan will be certainly far from being very affordable – you can go for about 25,000 euro with added options when selecting the diesel and EDC dual-clutch automatic transmission. We got all the perks – complete with the well known 1.5 dCi engine good for 110 hp and 250 Nm, hooked to the Efficient Dual Clutch six-speed automatic. This particular diesel engine has been widely used throughout the Renault-Nissan alliance and anyone can encounter it – in various configurations on models from the Dacia, Renault and Nissan brands. With a 110 hp configuration it’s not entirely easy to find direct competitors in the segment, particularly when trying to specify the rivals with an automatic. The perfect match would be the newly facelifted Skoda Octavia with its 1.6 TDI 115 hp and seven-speed DSG dual clutch transmission. But because we like to be thorough, we also found a few close matches – such as the Fiat Tipo Sedan 1.6 Multijet 120 hp (6-speed manual), Hyundai Elantra 1.6 CRDi 136 hp 7DCT and a personal favorite – the Mazda3 SportSedan Skyactiv-D 105 hp (6-speed manual). We know, they aren’t perfect matches, but the compact saloon segment is actually pretty niched and some great competitors such as the Ford Focus Sedan or Opel Astra Sedan are not available anymore or awaiting an entirely new generation.
Anyways, the Megane Sedan uses the 1.5 dCi with 110 hp – although this is already an old engine by today’s standards, we can see it has aged like fine wine, thanks to the latest available technologies. While popping up the hood will make you hear it tick like any fine diesel (that metallic “bomb to explode” sound), fortunately the interior is pretty much entirely isolated from the powertrain – no messy sound comes out when accelerating (it can even get enhancements if you use certain modes, such as Sport) and no vibrations reach the steering wheel or transmission shifter. There’s one thing to account for – the Megane Sedan is certainly a hefty vehicle, tipping the scales at 1320 kg dry. This means the 100 hp of the 1.5 dCi have to work hard for the performance from the fact sheet – 12.5 seconds to 100 km/h and 190 km/h maximum speed. This in turn has a negative impact on the fuel economy – you’re not going to get close to the 3.7 liters in the combined NEDC driving cycle even when using the Eco mode at all times. Still, the Megane Sedan is a good companion – it will accelerate from 80 to 120 km/h in 9.9 seconds – so if you time it right it will deliver good pass breaks. Just don’t count on the Megane Sedan to be as sporty as the design implies – maybe with the dCi 130 hp, but there are other limitations to consider. When cruising, it will do so in a relaxed, comfortable manner – even at highway speeds, where the EDC doesn’t disappoint, even if it comes with “just” six speeds. The main reason why the Megane Sedan is not an athlete is the chassis setup. Having driven both the hatchback and saloon I can say the company has made some cuts on the Sedan, which is after all intended for emerging markets. Riding the smooth silky highways is one thing, but once you get on rougher terrains you’ll see the Sedan is not on par with the rest of the family, mainly due to the rear setup as far as I can notice. While the overall NVH levels are some of the best in the category, the suspension is not on par with the rest of the appointments. It’s also not great at reading the road – so it will make you feel the car is prone to wobble during sharp turning maneuvers. This, mixed with the heavy front axle due to the diesel engine makes a perilous composition when trying to drive sporty – it will have at first the tendency to go wide, like any other FWD, but you need to be careful because on uneven surfaces the back can lose grip easily and turn into an oversteer. Fortunately, Renault has its reputation to uphold in terms of safety and you’re being watched even on the lowest of trims by the ESP system.
But let’s see, before our final words, how the Megane Sedan compares to the rest of the pack – our selected competitors. The performance figures – 12.5 seconds to 100 km/h (11.6 if you go for the six-speed manual) and 190 km/h top speed don’t stack well against the Skoda Octavia (1.6 TDI, 115 hp, 7-speed DSG) – 10.2 seconds and 202 km/h. And they are average when looking at the rest of the bunch: Mazda3 SportSedan (1.5 Skyactiv-D and 6-speed manual) with 11 seconds and 186 km/h; Fiat Tipo (1.6 Multijet 120 hp, 6-speed manual) with 9.7 seconds and 199 km/h or the Hyundai Elantra (1.6 CRDI 136 hp 7 DCT) with 11 seconds and 190 km/h. As far as the fuel economy is concerned, the Megane Sedan does have the upper hand – 3.7 liters to 100 km against the Mazda3 with 3.8, the Skoda Octavia with 3.9, the Elantra with 4.1 and the Fiat Tipo with 4.2. As final words are concerned, the Megane Sedan has the trump card of the segment – its styling. The only other car that compares to it is the Mazda3, which is inherently sporty – not dynamic and elegant at the same time like the French. The Skoda Octavia is absolutely quirky after the facelift but is comparable to the Megane Sedan in one respect – the on-board technology, which has been thoroughly enhanced. The Hyundai Elantra is the sensible choice in some markets thanks to pricing and long warranty, but is nowhere near as spectacular. As far as the Tipo is concerned, we’re not passing any judgment – except for the fact that we can’t believe it has been styled by Italians.
Pro: The design is today absolutely spectacular, and its Talisman vibe is an assumed stance. Larger interior at the back compared to the hatchback. Lots of technology on board – from safety and assistance to multimedia and comfort.
Against: The company did save some money because it’s still made in Turkey and the chassis – although equipped with the same perks as the other Meganes, just lacks the mechanical prowess. Also getting all the technology will make you pay a rather hefty price tag.
Starting Price – Renault Megane Sedan Life SCE 115 – 14,800 EUR
Tested Version – Renault Megane Sedan Intens DCI 110 EDC – 20,700 EUR
Engine: 1.6L four cylinder, diesel, turbo, VGT, intercooler, start/stop (1461 cc)
Power: 110 HP (81 kW) / 4000 rpm
Torque: 250 Nm / 1750
Transmission: 6-speed dual-clutch automatic
Dimensions: length – 4,632 mm, width – 1,814mm, height – 1,443 mm, wheelbase – 2,711 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 49L
Trunk Capacity: 503/ 987/1247 liters
0 – 100 km/h: 12,5 s
Top Speed: 190 km/h
Fuel consumption: urban – 4L/100 km, highway – 3,5L/100 km, average –3,7L/100 km
Rating: 3.3 / 5