The Renault Megane Coupe 1.5 dCi 86 is a good-looking car that also manages 64.2 mpg, along with emissions of just 115 g/km CO2, so is this the best green coupe? Find out by reading the following Green car guide review and road test.
Model/Engine size: Expression 1.5 dCi 86
Fuel economy combined: 64.2 mpg
Green-Car-Guide rating: 6/10
Straightaway in its favour are its looks: its exterior design is modern, with a much smaller backside than the previous model, and even though the alloy wheels on our test car certainly aren’t the best-looking in the range, overall the Megane Coupe looks sleek and sporty.
Good design continues inside the car, however the dashboard does look fairly basic, and some of the plastics aren’t great quality, with the steering wheel in particular feeling cheap.
The instrument panel has a slightly weird mix of analogue and digital dials – the speedo is digital whereas the rev counter is analogue. Our test car had an integrated TomTom satnav system which is a good combination of functionality and cost-effectiveness.
It seems that the only way to increase or decrease the volume of the radio and CD is by a control that is hidden behind the steering wheel, which can make life unnecessarily difficult.
The button to start the car is also in a slightly unusual position, next to the gear lever, along with the slot for the plastic key card.
It seemed to take a long time to get the right seating position, but this seemed easier after lowering the seat. The seat almost felt too small, even for someone of average proportions.
The rear of the car feels claustrophobic, and although the boot is a reasonable size for a coupe, it has narrow access. Because of the coupe’s design, rear visibility isn’t great.
Once you’re driving the car it’s obvious that it has a good chassis – of course it’s also the base for the highly acclaimed RenaultSport version. Although the coupe has slightly stiffer suspension than the hatch, it still manages to combine a comfortable ride with low levels of roll in corners, and it has well-weighted responsive steering. All this results in enjoyable and competent handling.
Perhaps the best thing about the car is the fuel economy. It’s supposed to officially deliver 64 mpg, and although it didn’t quite achieve this in real life, it did consistently average around 55 mpg on most runs, and the tank has a huge range.
The diesel engine is generally quite, although it does have a certain unusual background noise under certain conditions, which almost sounds like a vibration.
At motorway speeds the revs are higher than you might expect for an ‘economy’ car with a six-speed manual gearbox. And in fact the gearbox was one of the weakest aspects of the car, being very clunky and vague.
However possibly the biggest disappointment is the lack of power. It could be argued that this is to be expected with only 86 bhp and the ability to deliver 64 mpg, but despite this, because it’s a coupe, and a sporty-looking one at that, you’re still expecting some fun out of the engine.
This is not to say that the car suffers under normal everyday driving, when it is perfectly acceptable. But if you do need to overtake a slow moving tractor on a winding country road, you do feel as though you want a bit more instant response under your right foot.
Renault has been making good progress with safety over recent years, and the Megane, with its 5 star Euro NCAP safety rating, doesn’t disappoint.
Quality has been an issue for the company but Renault assures us that huge efforts are currently being made to remedy this past reputation.
So overall the Megane Coupe looks good, it’s very economical, and it will be cheap to run, but it also has flaws. Which is why the price of £17,915, although one of the cheapest Megane Coupe models, and cheaper than some supposed rivals, doesn’t seem great value for a car that has little power, a poor gearbox, a fairly basic interior, and not a huge amount of space. Other rivals that the Megane is often compared to definitely feel more refined and ‘grown up’.
This is why the Megane Coupe 1.5 dCi 86 gets a Green Car Guide rating of 6 out of 10. Other engines would result in it getting 7 out of 10.
If you want excellent economy and good looks then the Renault Megane Coupe 1.5 dCi 86 may be the one for you. However in our view this engine just doesn’t give enough performance. The Renaultsport Megane shows that this car can be fantastic to drive, but that model obviously doesn’t tick the green boxes. So we’d suggest a compromise. If you want to err on the side of economy then go for the same 1.5-litre diesel engine, but with 105 bhp. The economy is almost identical, at 62.8 mpg, with a very respectable 120 g/km CO2 figure, but the extra 20 or so bhp will be a real help to the driving experience. At £18,415 it’s only around £500 more than the 1.5 dCi 86 model.
There’s also the dCi130 which gives even better performance, but still with good economy. Even better still, and although not as green it arguably offers better value than the diesel options, would be a petrol version, such as the 1.4 turbo with 128 bhp. This will be more effective in combining fun with a relatively low-cost ownership proposition.
So there is a limit to green cars; they also have to be fit for purpose. Although the Megane Coupe 1.5 dCi 86 offers generally acceptable and economical everyday motoring, you’ll definitely get the best out of the potential that this coupe offers with an engine that has more performance.
Fuel economy extra urban: 70.6 mpg
Fuel economy urban: 55.4 mpg
CO2 emissions: 115 g/km
Green rating: VED band C – first year £0
Weight: 1205 Kg
Company car tax liability (2010/11): 13%
Price: £17,915 (From £16,855 – £24,160)
Insurance group: 12 E
Power: 86 bhp
Max speed: 109 mph
0-62 mph: 12.9 seconds