Years built: 2008 to 2016
Bodystyles: Three-and-five door hatchback, five-door estate
What is it?
The third generation of the Renault Megane had an awful lot to prove. The previous model, Megane II, launched in 2002 to great acclaim for its styling, but rather less so for its quality. In fact, it was occasionally an unreliable nightmare. So Megane III had to turn that around. Renault got its engineers to work, told the stylists to turn down the wick a bit for something more sober, and tried to re-create the Megane as a more sensible, more reliable car. And, for the most part, it worked. Megane II may not have been as sexy to look at as its predecessor, but it was without question more solidly made, and not bad to drive either.
Which one should I buy?
Definitely go for a post-2012 model, as that was when Renault introduced a major facelift and plonked a big, bold Renault diamond badge in the centre of the nose, with slimmer, better looking headlights on either side. There was also a noticeable increase in quality with that update, and the front seats and cabin received upgrades.
Most Meganes on sale will have the familiar 1.5-litre dCi turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine, and that’s no bad thing. Whatever you might think of the bad publicity swirling around diesel power at the moment, it’s a good engine and came in varied power outputs, from 84hp to 110hp. The older 19 dCi unit, and the bigger 2.0 engines are probably best avoided as you simply don’t need them — the 1.5 has more than adequate grunt and it’s very economical too. Refinement is OK, if a bit rattly by modern standards.
The 2012 update also introduced a new 1.6-litre 130hp dCi diesel, which effectively replaced the old 1.9, and that’s an excellent engine, but because it was essentially a range-topper, very few were sold so you might struggle to track one down.
Avoid the old 1.6-litre petrol as it’s wheezy and not pleasant to drive, but if you can find one with the 1.2 turbo petrol, also introduced in 2012, then you’re on to a good thing. It’s light, revvy, frugal and generally very nice to drive.
If you can find a good Grand Megane estate, that too is a good purchase as it’s roomy and useful, and arguably better looking than the five-door hatch or three-door ‘coupe.’ It’s also worth tracking down a well-equipped Dynamique or Dynamique Nav model to get some extra toys.
A word on depreciation, though. The introduction of the Megane coincided with a strategy by Renault Ireland to sell its cars at savage discounts, trying to build up market share and a broader customer base. It worked, but it came at the expense of residual value. That means buying a Megane now is generally cheaper than buying one of its major rivals, but it also means you won’t get as much for it come trade-in time.
How much should I spend? Circa €12-13,000 will get you a 2014 Megane or Grand Megane.
Here’s one we found:
2014 Renault Grand Megane Dynamique 1.5 dCi 110hp, 60,000km, one owner, €13,890 from a Renault main dealer.
What goes wrong?
The Megane shares all its engines, chassis and electronics with the Nissan Qashqai, so there’s a sense that all the mechanical parts are solid and proven. The engines do suffer from loose fuel lines, which can lead to rough running, and if it’s a low mileage example then you’ll need to check the diesel exhaust filter for clogging up. Keep an eye out for excessive smoke from the exhaust too, as that could indicate turbo trouble.
Clutches are expensive to replace, so beware of a Megane that has a high clutch bite point. And while obviously you should always insist on a full service history, check to make sure that the coolant and brake fluid services, which are on a separate schedule to the main engine service points, have been done. Keep an eye on the electrics too, especially the electric windows, which can be fragile.
The four-door Fluence saloon was spun off from the Megane range and was wildly popular for a time, but we’d avoid these as they’re (somehow) much duller than a Megane and many have been used and abused as taxis. Better by far to get your teeth into one of the nigh-legendary sporty Meganes, including the mighty 265hp Megane RS, as potent and as fast a car as you are ever likely to drive.
And when you’ve found your perfect Megane don’t forget to get it history checked by motorcheck.ie.