New Renault Megane

trips light

fantastic

Renault Megane, 2016, rear LED
Renault Megane GT, front
Renault Megane GT, side
Renault Megane GT, static
Renault Megane GT, rear
Renault Megane GT, trim
Renault Megane GT, interior
Renault Megane, 2016, rear lamps
Renault Megane GT, sill
Renault Megane GT, boot
Renault Megane, 2016, front, action
Renault Megane, 2016, front
Renault Megane, 2016, side
Renault Megane, 2016, rear, action
Renault Megane, 2016, boot
Renault Megane, 2016, interior
Renault Megane, 2016, screen, red
Renault Megane, 2016, dials, red
Renault Megane, 2016, screen, green
Renault Megane, 2016, dials, green
Renault Megane, 2016, screen, blue
Renault Megane, 2016, dials, blue
Renault Megane, 2016, screen
Renault Megane, 2016, rear seats

SPOT a wave of red lights on the back of the car ahead and that will be a new Renault Megane on the horizon.

Using LED arrays as a styling feature is being taken to a new level by the French car maker as it goes about releasing the fourth generation of its popular family hatchback.

Front and back the new Megane has a signature all of its own and the view from behind is like no other.

The light display is one of a battery of features Renault is bringing in to play to make its newcomer more than a match for the likes of the Ford Focus, the Vauxhall Astra and Peugeot's 308.

The new Megane is priced from £16,600 - little different to the previous version - and tops out at £25,500 for a pepped up GT turbo.

The bulk of the range - powered either by 1.2-litre petrol engines or 1.5 and 1.6-litre diesels - pitches in around the £20,000 mark which makes the Megane very competitive.

All versions hit the mark with good economy and performance but the grab factor is going to be its looks and the equipment Renault is fitting to the new Megane.

Designed in a similar vein to Renault's latest Clio, Kadjar and Captur models the new Megane has sharper looks and is bigger than before.

It is more than two inches longer and much of that has gone into the wheelbase which makes for more room inside.

It's also lower and has a wider track than any other car in this class while boot space is increased significantly to 434 litres compared to 372 litres in the previous model.

On the interior Renault has gone for technology in a big way turning the Megane almost into a tablet computer on wheels.

There's a seven-inch TFT instrument panel and touchscreen on the basic versions and higher up the specification list the screen becomes bigger at 8.5-inches and is mounted vertically in portrait fashion.

The new Megane also marks the debut of Renault's Multi-Sense system which controls virtually all the car's functions from the touchscreen.

That includes driving modes, sat nav, air conditioning, audio et al.

There are scores of options for personal settings ranging from ways to configure your favoured feel for the steering weight and suspension stiffness to altering some of the cosmetic kit such as the colour of the ambient lighting.

Flick through the various modes and the colours on the screen - and the instrument panel - change to reflect the selection. There's red, blue and green backgrounds for either sports, comfort or eco settings.

It's all very clever but takes a bit of mastering - like the first time you get to grips with an iPad or the like.

We have just tried out the new Megane 1.5 dCi 110 diesel in top range Dynamique S Nav trim and the flagship GT Nav with its uprated 205ps turbocharged petrol engine.

The diesel is top notch and the car came with all the latest safety systems such as lane departure warning, blind spot alerts, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking with a coloured display which starts changing from green to red as soon as you break the two second rule.

List price for the diesel was £20,400 and the £2,500 worth of options fitted included full LED headlamps at £500, an automatic self-park system plus the radar-based cruise control and braking system.

Performance for a five-door family hatch is fine at 11.3 seconds for 0 to 60 and it's nicely economical with Renault claiming 76.4mpg and emissions of 96g/km making it the cleanest of the new Megane models.

We managed to average 54mpg on a good drive through the North Yorkshire countryside which features plenty of challenging roads.

The GT, with its seven-speed standard auto box, big paddle shifters, sports seats and blue Renault Sport trim tipped the scales at £28,575 with extras such as a Bose sound system and two-tone alcantara upholstery.

For a sporty hatch it looks the part and sounds good too especially under acceleration - but a hot hatch it is not.

Even in sports mode it is more tourer than GTI - but quick enough with a 0 to 60 time of 7.2 seconds and a maximum of 143mpg. All-wheel-steering gives it a good deal of agility at speed and the system is clever enough to adjust itself to help out when manoeuvring at lower speeds.

Official fuel consumption is 47.1mpg with a CO2 figure of 134g/km although over similar roads to the diesel the best we could manage was 30 to the gallon.

Renault has never been shy about making the Megane different - remember the one that was shakin' its ass - and the new one is not going to be backwards about going forwards, especially with its tail lit up in such spectacular fashion.

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