Fleet News

Renault Megane 1.9 dCi Privilege - 9,923 miles

Renault

Review

A MONTH driving our Renault Megane has turned into something of a love/hate relationship between me and this car.

Trying to be positive about a vehicle which has never truly worked properly since it arrived at Fleet Towers, let me start with the bits I love about it.

Firstly, there is that stylish shape. Some hate it but I think this car has the best looking one in the lower medium sector at present. Presumably others do too because latest sales figures revealed in Fleet News on February 19 showed that the diesel version had seen a rise of a staggering 261% over last year. The diesel variant is definitely the one to choose.

Our test car boasts the 1.9 dCi unit, which acts in a most undiesel-like manner. It has 120bhp on tap and 199lb-ft of torque, which translates into a 0-60mph time of just over 10 seconds and a top speed of more than 120mph.

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But the Megane is packed with low-down diesel grunt that makes it feel a lot quicker.

And the ride-on-rails handling means it can be thrown into bends with gusto.

Yet despite the fact that this car has been bringing out the hooligan in me, it is still returning nearly 50mpg – the holy grail of power and economy combined seems to have been achieved.

So what is it about our Megane that has evoked such antagonistic feelings? Well – where do I start?

This car is loaded down to the rafters with every electronic bit of jiggery-pokery you could imagine, which is fine if it all works. But it doesn't. Let's take the 'key' for a start.

In place of the usual item is a credit card-sized fob which simply has to be carried on the person. The idea is that the carrier walks up to the car and inserts his or her hand in the door handle. A sensor under the handle detects that the person has the card and opens the door. Well, that's the theory.

The practice is that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. And you can bet your life that it will decide not to work when it is pouring down with rain. I then have to fumble in my pocket to find the card and wave it around outside the door in the hope that the car will eventually recognise it.

Once aboard, the driver presses the clutch and pushes a button and the engine starts – or doesn't as the case may be. Many times, the digital display on the dashboard says: 'key not detected'. Once again I have to find the card and insert it in a slot on the dashboard before the engine will start.

Once the engine has fired up, it is anyone's guess with this particular car as to what problems it will throw up. Sometimes, the dash tells me the airbag isn't working, sometimes it says: 'electronic fault' and sometimes it tells me everything is OK.

The car has already been looked at by our local Renault dealer and the experts claimed they had fixed the problem. But it started again the day it arrived back at our offices.

I tend to ignore these warnings now, but the danger is that one day, like the little boy who cried wolf, the car will tell me genuinely that there is a fault and I will drive on regardless. Then what?

As I write this piece, the Megane is booked into the garage again for another try at fixing it. As testers on a fleet magazine, we are supposed to look at these cars from the eye of a busy fleet driver. If I was such a motorist, I would be pretty unimpressed with all these shenanigans. So unimpressed in fact that I would suggest Renault took this car back and gave me one that worked properly.

Company car tax bill 2004/05 (22% tax-payer): £48 per month

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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