Renault Mégane Coupé 2.0 TCE 180
If you like to be looked at...
It's a real looker, the Mégane Coupé. Our test car came with the turbocharged 2.0 TCE engine, pumping out 180HP (that's about 177.5bhp, if you're feeling pedantic) and zooming from 0-62mph in just 7.8 seconds. We reckon the £19,535 price-tag for a car with this much performance and style is fantastically good value, but combined fuel economy of 37.2mpg and CO2 of 178g/km mean it's no church-going goody-goody - far from it.
The sloping tailgate and small rear windows which make the car look so athletic from the outside do mean that rear visibility is pretty appalling. But who cares? Everywhere in the Mégane Coupé, the details are designed to shout 'look at me!' - that's the whole point of it. The rear lights, for example, have square, chromed detailing that (depending on your taste) is either way too brash - or visually very powerful. Young (or young-at-heart) drivers will love the dramatic styling; though it might be a bit too 'flash' for more conservative tastes. Trouble is, younger buyers are likely to find the insurance group of (take a deep breath) 13 way too steep for their wallets.
At the back, the bum is curvy and sensuous: a real Renault trademark, that. Meanwhile, on the inside, the dashboard is a work of art and the six-speed manual gearbox takes you up to speed with never so much as rough cog, but there is one on-going irritation. The bottom inch or two of windscreen glass causes a distortion, which means a constant flickering of road and verge, drawing your eye away from oncoming traffic. And the only clock is on the sat-nav screen, and even then it's tucked away in the bottom right corner - ideal for left-hand drive but less visible for Brits. If you want the sat-nav and audio screen turned off altogether, then there's no clock at all... very irritating.
As for packing your luggage, the boot is very long, front to back, with a total volume of 344 litres. But, while the bootspace itself is wide, the aperture is not - a victim of the sportily sloping roof and muscular haunches that look great but don't leave much space for a wide tailgate. The three rear seats have one divide, so you can drop them 60:40 to carry one rear passenger, or two, or three.
Renault has made the decision to give more depth to the boot and less to the rear seats. (The VW Scirocco, for example, has larger rear seats but the boot is shorter, front to back.) The 'squabs', or seat cushions, are short and not very comfortable. The sporty styling also takes its toll. There's not a lot of headroom under that sloping roof and the non-opening back window is low and small. Not good for claustrophobes or anyone over six feet tall.
Our test car in 'Dynamique' trim had the hands-free Renault card as standard. Although there's a handy slot to insert it, before firing up the engine by the push-button start, the card doesn't need to be in there as long as it's sitting somewhere nearby. You can leave it in your handbag if you like. (But don't leave your handbag at home, or you won't get far... and yes, I speak from experience. Blush.) Standard on all the Mégane Coupés in Dynamique trim are 16-inch 'Sport' alloy wheels, but you can pay £300 for the option of 17-inch wheels if you want an even sportier look and don't mind a harsher ride. Bigger wheels look sexy, always, but they do compromise the ride. It's your choice.