Friday June 11
Thanks to aggressive pricing and marketing the Renault Grand Mégane is one of the bargains of 2010. If you can avail of all Renault's trade-in and scrappage allowances this family estate can be had for just €17,300. That's astounding value.
The TomTom Edition is loaded with equipment as standard too. As the name suggests, there's a satnav system integrated. Along with that there's Bluetooth telephony and audio, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and electric windows all-round.
However, it's the space available that hits you on first opening the doors. There's loads of leg- and headroom in the front and rear. A quick scan through the car's specs shows that the Grand Mégane has an extra 62mm between the wheels over the five-door version, which helps with room for rear passengers. Strangely, the rear seat back is noticeably shallow, so there's very little shoulder support for taller people.
The boot is vast too. It has a usefully low load floor and the rear seats fold simply.
Saturday June 12
A quick drive in the Grand Mégane doesn't do the car justice. First impressions suggest there's a lot of slack in all the controls. The gearchange is loose, the clutch and brake pedal seem to move a lot before doing anything and the steering is quite slow.
However, once you spend a little more time behind the wheel - especially on windier roads - it begins to come together and overall it's quite a nimble and fluid car. Lots of body roll means it'll not appeal to enthusiastic drivers particularly, but it clings on quite well when pushed beyond its comfort zone and at the limit it's forgiving, meaning it should be safe in an emergency manoeuvre and easy to control. The soft suspension ensures that it's incredibly comfortable.
Sunday June 13
In terms of cabin ambience, the Mégane isn't quite comparable to a VW Golf, but it feels of higher quality than past Renaults. There are a few niceties that add to the feel that you're in a car built to compete with the class-leaders though. The climate control is one. It features Soft and Fast modes for automatic temperature control so you can decide just how quickly you'd like to be chilled or warmed up.
The Mégane's keyless entry and exit system works well too. Just keep the key card in your pocket and reach for a door handle and it unlocks. You simply press the engine start button to get going. When you walk away from the car it locks itself.
Monday June 14
We averaged about 5.9 litres/100km (47.9mpg) in our time with the car. Some of that was on the motorway, but most of the driving was done on country and town routes. Decent economy and band A tax mean the Grand Mégane will be a cheap car to run.
The 1.5-litre engine with 86hp is a good match for the Grand Mégane. It's nicely hushed most of the time and though it's no firecracker it copes adequately with the weight of the estate. If you regularly carry a full complement of passengers and luggage then you might want to consider the more powerful 106hp version, though that is noisier - and more expensive, obviously.
Other cars to consider in this class are the Ford Focus Estate, Hyundai i30 Cross Wagon, Kia cee'd Sport Wagon, Opel Astra Sports Tourer, Peugeot 308 SW and Skoda Octavia Combi.
Renault Grand Mégane 1.5 dCi 86 TomTom Edition:
- Engine: 1,461cc four-cylinder turbodiesel
- Maximum power: 86hp at 3,750rpm
- Maximum torque: 200Nm at 1,750rpm
- Acceleration (0-100km/h): 13.3 seconds
- Max speed: 175km/h
- Fuel economy (combined cycle): 4.4 l/100km
- CO2 emissions: 115g/km
- Motor tax band: A
- Annual road tax: €104
- Retail price: Official price of test car without options is €23,600. With full trade-in and scrappage allowances this car can be currently bought for €17,300.