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Renault Megane 1.6 16v RXE

Renault

Review

IF THERE is one thing the Renault Megane has achieved, it is new class standards in value, equipment and - latterly - crash-worthiness. But these are just some of the attributes of a range which has become comfortably the biggest-selling car in Renault's history. And with a five-model range, which includes the mould-breaking Scenic mini-MPV, it pioneered the concept of breeding several different models from one common platform.

It is a formula that has achieved huge success. Built worldwide at six production sites in France, Spain, Turkey, Argentina and Brazil, with a new production agreement in the pipeline for cars to be made and sold in Russia - the Megane took 12.2% of the lower medium sector in Europe last year, some 580,000 cars in Europe. In Britain, it's the Scenic that dominates the sales charts, accounting for no less than 42.3% of Megane volume. Second is the five-door hatchback, tested here, which takes 40.6%.

The good news is that recent wholesale revisions to the range have introduced new engines, a facelift, more equipment and lower prices. There are also new versions which increase choice and give two distinct trim styles - Sport and Luxury. At entry level, the Liberte replaces RN, RT remains as before together with a sport variant, Alize and Alize Sport and RXE. A choice of five engines includes revised versions of the existing 1.4 and 1.9D but adds welcome new petrol units: a new 1.4 16-valve unit joins the existing 75bhp 8-valve 1.4 and replaces the previous 90bhp 8-valve 1.6, giving improved economy and extra flexibility.

The 1.6 16v unit already in use in the Laguna replaces the old 2.0-litre 8-valve engine with vastly improved economy while a new direct injection petrol 2.0-litre 16v 140bhp unit replaces the previous 150bhp 2.0-litre, once again giving much enhanced economy and flexibility. There are two diesels - a reworked version of the existing 1.9 naturally-aspirated unit with new cylinder head and piston design re-tuned for greater low-down pull, and the recently introduced direct injection 1.9dTi with noise-reducing modifications. For the first time, an automatic gearbox is available with the dTi engine.

Here, we try the 1.6 16v five-door hatch in top of the range RXE trim, priced at รบ14,400 on the road.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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