Renault has spent some time in the wilderness, but the French manufacturer is well-and-truly on the comeback path. The revival started with the Clio, and continues with the new Megane. As you can see, it looks good in sedan form, but what lies beneath the skin is arguably more impressive.
We'll get to the good looks later on, but we're going to start with the interior. After all, it's what's on the inside that counts, isn't it? Renault wants to woo buyers from the ubiquitous Volkswagen Golf and Mazda 3 with a classy, high-tech interior. At the middle of the center console is a vertically-oriented R-Link2 touchscreen, operated with the full range of swipes, pokes and prods we've grown accustomed to on our phones.
There's also a 7-inch TFT instrument cluster in front of the driver, working in tandem with the central screen to feed crucial information to the driver on the move. It might not be on the same level as the Tesla Model S, but it's certainly a step up from the segment norm.
When it comes time to fling the new Megane into a set of corners, there's a whole host of changes to keep it stable and secure. Compared to the previous generation car, the track is 47 mm (1.85 in) wider at the front and 39 mm (1.54 in) wider at the rear. Even though the exterior looks more compact than the third-generation car, the wheelbase is also 28 mm (1.1 in) longer than before.
Range-topping GT models will even get four-wheel steering, in an attempt to give it the handling chops to face off with the Golf GTI. As well as improving the turning circle at low speeds, Renault says the system provides a pointier turn-in on tight roads and increased stability in a set of sweepers.
Power will come from a range of small turbocharged engines, with outputs ranging from 90 to 205 horsepower (67 - 153 kW). Three diesels with 90, 110 and 130 hp (67, 82 and 97 kW) are available, while the petrol range kicks off with 100 hp and 130 hp (75 and 97 kW) variants of Renault's TCe motor, with a 205 hp (153 kW) GT model sitting atop the tree.
That power is put to the ground through six- or seven-speed versions of the brand's dual-clutch gearbox, with no manual option. We're not sure whether that means the RS will also do without a stick shifter, but we're hoping Renault will keep the three-pedal dream alive for another generation.
The new Megane will be available as a hatch, wagon or sedan in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Morocco, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine.
Pricing will start at £16,600 (US$22,000), but expect to pay a healthy premium if your heart is set on a GT with a few option boxes ticked.
Source: RenaultView gallery - 29 images