Dishy French fare

The centrepiece of the cabin, which has a premium feel, is a tablet-style infotainment console. The Renault Megane is regal and stylish, with a new corporate face and C-shaped headlights with daytime-running LEDs.
The Renault Megane is regal and stylish, with a new corporate face and C-shaped headlights with daytime-running LEDs.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG
The centrepiece of the cabin, which has a premium feel, is a tablet-style infotainment console. The Renault Megane is regal and stylish, with a new corporate face and C-shaped headlights with daytime-running LEDs.
The centrepiece of the cabin, which has a premium feel, is a tablet-style infotainment console.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

Renault's latest Megane sedan has plenty of presence, chock-full of features and a super-soft ride

The new Renault Megane sedan is like that stunning woman you spot across the room.

Beautiful hair, glowing complexion, fine features and clad head to toe in designer wear, with a tasteful application of bling that complements the sparkle in her eyes.

But when the music plays and she takes to the floor, you turn your head to the wall. Argh, where does she get those cringe-worthy moves?

Okay, the Megane is not all that bad. Its chassis, built on a new modular platform shared by Renault and Nissan, lends itself to soft, pillowy movements.

It is nice, comfy and you get to drive over humps as if they weren't there. It is a ride French cars were known for in the earlier years.

  • SPECS / RENAULT MEGANE SEDAN 1.5 dCi 110

  • Price: From $109,999 with COE

    Engine: 1,461cc 16-valve inline-4 turbodiesel

    Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch with manual override

    Power: 110bhp at 4,000rpm

    Torque: 250Nm at 1,750rpm

    0-100kmh: 12.5 seconds

    Top speed: 190kmh

    Fuel consumption: 3.7 litres/100km

    Agent: Wearnes Automotive

Yet, you tire of it after 20 minutes. In fact, you get a little sea-sick as the soft-sprung suspension responds to patchy road resurfacing the way a cup of jello in your hands responds to a sneeze.

To be fair, the Renault's ride characteristics are appealing if you are on a leisurely jaunt. It goes over humps with aplomb and you never feel the jarring vibrations brought on by road imperfections. The thumps are filtered out, but the soft dampers take longer to settle.

In short, it is just fine if it is not called to dance. In fact, very fine.

The car is regal, measuring 4,630mm long, 1,814mm wide and with a wheelbase of 2,711mm, which makes it one of the biggest and most spacious sedans in its price segment.

It is also stylish, with a fresh new corporate face, C-shaped headlights with daytime-running LEDs (but halogen main lamps) and slim and elegant tail-lights highlighting its fastback-like rear.

Inside, the space it offers is between that of the Corolla and the Camry. Its 550-litre boot rivals that of the Mercedes-Benz E-class. It is fairly rectangular, with very little intrusions, and the boot-lid has a kick opening function that actually works with just one kicking motion.

The cabin has a premium feel, even if there is no overt use of premium materials. There are plenty of cool features, such as four choices of LED ambient lighting, 12-volt outlets front and back, sunroof with rotary control, dual-zone climate control with rear vents and six airbags.

The centrepiece is a tablet-style infotainment console. The touchscreen is intuitive and logical and allows drag-and-drop functions.

And everything works brilliantly. The navigation is effortless to operate and as precise as the best out there; the reverse camera is the sharpest there is, even in low light; and the drive mode selector is easily customised.

There are apps, multimedia and phone pairing functions to please millennials (if millennials want a sedan in the first place).

Like many Renaults today, the Megane sedan is powered by a 1.5litre turbodiesel paired with a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. It is not big on performance, but impressively frugal with an actual average of 5 litres/100km. Although its stated century timing is a sluggish 12.5 seconds, the car is eminently driveable because of its generous torque.

And at around $110,000, the Megane sedan costs about the same as the top Japanese sedans here. But on a number of fronts, it offers more bang for the buck.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 25, 2017, with the headline 'Dishy French fare'. Print Edition | Subscribe