The Megane as we know it is gone – but definitely not forgotten
By Matt Bird / Thursday, 21 July 2022 / Loading comments
So the combustion-engined Renault Megane is dead, replaced with the Megane E-Tech, meaning the end of a long-lived Renault nameplate. It’s probably not the first hatchback that springs to mind when thinking about longevity, but 27 years from 1995 to 2022 is a good innings for one badge to stay in service – even the Ford Mondeo only just made it to 30.
The Megane was a real trailblazer in its time, too; the Scenic ushered in the era of the mini-MPV, and where would the compact SUV be without creations like the RX4? How easy it was once to mock lightly lifted hatches and MPVs kitted out with butch off-road bits – now look. The original RX4 was so ahead of its time that it went out of production 20 years ago. And there was a Megane cabriolet, don’t forget.
Naturally though, we’ll most fondly remember the Megane for the sensational Renault Sport hot hatches it produced. Era-defining, unforgettable, utterly compelling hot hatches, year after year after prize-winning year. Which was notable, really, given there wasn’t a Megane R.S. until the second-generation car, and even the first ones of those weren’t tremendous. Once the Megane got going, however, there was no stopping it: the R26 was ace, the R26.R mesmerising, and the entire 250 range the class of the field for its whole time on sale.
Which meant replacing it very hard. Because for all the plaudits, Renault didn’t sell loads; what did sell in droves were less focused hot hatches like the Golf GTI. For the third try at a hot Megane, Renault Sport attempted to instill the car with the best bits of its predecessor alongside the best bits of the opposition: it was a family-friendly five-door only for the first time (but retained the standard manual), offered a genuinely plush Sport chassis (as well as a much firmer Cup set up) and a very smart looking touchscreen interior (though Recaros could be had for an old school feel). It should have been all things to all hot hatch buyers – especially as it looked so good – but the Megane IV R.S. never quite hit the heady heights hoped for. The 4Control four-wheel steer was a bit odd, neither gearbox quite good enough, the Trophy too stiff, the Sport undermined by the lack of a locking diff… At times it was really superb, but those moments didn’t occur frequently enough.
Nevertheless, it’ll be those great moments the Megane will be fondly remembered for now, with the conventional R.S. flagship no more. Early examples of the 1.8-litre era can be had for around £20k, though this stands out as one of the last manual Renault Sport Meganes ever made. In fact, it’s quite the anomaly. As a car from 2020, it’s one of the facelifted Meganes, meaning the external redesign and much improved EasyLink infotainment. When Renault announced that car in early 2020, it was confirmed that all models would now have 300hp instead of 280, with the manual Meganes limited to 295lb ft against the 310lb ft on offer in the dual-clutch. Yet by the time we triple tested the update with its VW and Honda rivals at the end of that year – praising the Megane for “its ability to turn a B-road into a Monte Carlo special stage” – the range was dual-clutch only. There was a very narrow window, basically, to order a Megane 300 with the worthwhile facelift and three pedals.
But here we are, with just 1,800 miles, the stunning Volcano Orange paint and a couple of thousand off the original list price. It’s a Sport chassis’d car, too, which won’t match a Cup on track but is preferable on the road. The advert is a peculiar one, telling you more about the dealership than the car in any detail, though it seems pretty much brand new, save for its first service a year ago at 1,809 miles. And while nobody will need reminding of all the other fantastic hot hatches out there for £28k, as a little bit of Renault Sport history this Megane is rather more interesting than most.
SPECIFICATION | RENAULT SPORT MEGANE 300
Engine: 1,798cc 4-cyl, turbo[email protected],000rpm Torque (lb ft): [email protected],400rpm MPG: 33.6 (WLTP) CO2: 190g/km (WLTP) Year registered: 2020 Recorded mileage: 1,825 Price new: £30,035 (before options) Yours for: £28,399Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive Power (hp):
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