FOR four years, the Renault Megane has been shaking its angular booty on UK shores.
But four years in the car industry is a long time, so Renault has decided to add a nip here and a tuck there for the second half of the car’s life.
The exterior styling has had a minor upgrade with tweaks to the face. It looks a bit more streamlined than before, but the general populous at large is unlikely to notice much change.
The sizeable derriere so celebrated in Renault’s TV adverts has new lights but otherwise remains essentially the same – whether or not that’s a good thing is a matter of personal preference.
The interior has received a sprucing-up for 2006, which means decent quality soft-touch plastics which raise the general feel of the cabin. It’s more than acceptable, although it does not match the likes of Toyota for build quality.
As well as cosmetic changes, a new line of diesel engines was unveiled at the beginning of this year – just the ticket for attracting fleet buyers.
The 105bhp 1.5 dCi is likely to be the fleet car of choice thanks to its promise of 60mpg on the combined cycle. The engine is surprisingly sprightly for its size and power. Drivers will find decent amounts of pull in all six gears, although the slightly vague gearbox could do with sharpening up a bit.
The steering is disappointingly numb. It feels like the road information is sent from the wheels to a satellite somewhere, digitised and then sent to the steering wheel. What you feel seems remote and doesn’t always bear much resemblance to what’s actually happening.
Despite the numb steering, the Megane handles well and the chassis feels good. Bumps and potholes are well soaked-up by the suspension and the ride on main roads is comfortable, but around more adventurous bends the car still remains taut and poised.
Spirited drivers may find the steering annoying, but the rest will find a lot to like in the revamped Megane such as the performance and frugality.
The once-controversial styling seems to have mellowed with age, and the facelift does it no harm. The 1.5dCi may be small but it’s far from weedy and offers an engaging drive in good quality surroundings.
P11D value: £14,882
CO2 emissions (g/km): 124
BIK % of P11D in 2006: 18%
Graduated VED rate: £110
Insurance group: 5
Combined mpg: 60.1
CAP RV (3yr/60k): £4,400/29%
Monthly lease (3yr/60k): £355
Three rivals to consider
THE Ford is the cheapest car to buy, but with just 90bhp has the least amount of power. The Megane, Astra and C4 all pack between 100 and 110bhp. The Citroën is the most expensive, but does come with a few extras such as front foglights and electric mirrors as standard.
Emissions and tax rates
ALL the cars produce less than 0 of CO2, meaning they all fall into the minimum 18% BIK bracket, so tax bills will be based on front-end price. The Focus is the cheapest to buy and will cost a 22% taxpayer £47 a month. The Megane and Astra cost £49 and the C4 £50.
Model, ppm, 60k total
Astra 2.38 £1,428
Focus 3.03 £1,818
C4 3.10 £1,860
Megane 3.23 £1,938
VAUXHALL plays its trump card – the Astra will cost almost £400 less over a three-year/60,000-mile fleet life than its closest rival, the Ford. The Citroën is close behind, while the Renault flounders, costing £500 more to keep running than the Vauxhall.
Megane 7.51 £4,506
C4 7.63 £4,578
Focus 7.66 £4,596
Astra 8.14 £4,884
RENAULT claims the Megane will return 60.1mpg which, if your drivers match, will result in a diesel bill of £4,500 over 60,000 miles. The C4 is the next most frugal on 58.9mpg, pipping the Focus to second place by 0.1mpg. The Astra will return 56.5mpg.
Focus 16.53 £9,918
C4 17.00 £10,200
Megane 17.19 £10,314
Astra 17.20 £10,320
CAP estimates the Focus will hold its value the best of the quartet, retaining 29% after three years/ 60,000 miles. But the remaining three are not far behind. In terms of cash lost over the same period, there is only £400 between the Ford and the Vauxhall in last.
Focus 27.22 £16,332
Astra 27.56 £16,536
C4 27.73 £16,638
Megane 27.93 £16,758
THE Focus, with its low front-end price and strong RV, will cost a fleet the least to run over three years/ 60,000 miles. It will cost a fleet more than £200 less to run compared to the Vauxhall. The Citroën and Renault are not far adrift in third and fourth place.
ALL four cars are closely matched in all areas, but it is the Ford which takes the win because it is the cheapest to buy, holds its value the best and is the best drive of the group. The Megane runs it close, but its higher front-end price and SMR bill dent its challenge. All four cars offer cost-effective transport for fleets, but the Focus has the slight edge in costs, and it is the best of the bunch to drive, too.
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