RENAULT MEGANE COUPE (2012 – 2016)
By Jonathan Crouch
Renault’s improved post-2012 second generation Megane Coupe delivered good looks, strong value and a wide range of talents to the most affordable end of the small sports coupe market, while keeping its five-door stablemate’s first rate refinement, comfort and build quality. Original buyers could specify this coupe to be sporty – or just rely on the looks to do their own talking. Either way, it’s worth stretching for one of these post-2012 cars over the original post-2009 models. The later variants came with an improved range of more efficient engines and a surprisingly sharp handling package.
There was a time when almost every mainstream maker seemed to be able to offer an affordable coupe. A three-door family hatchback or supermini with a little extra handling sharpness and the kind of lower-slung racier body you wouldn’t expect to find at such a realistic pricetag. More recent times have seen a decline in this market - until the launch of all-new models like Vauxhall’s Astra GTC, the MINI Coupe and Hyundai’s Veloster in the 2010 to 2012 period suggested that interest in this segment might once again be picking up. Renault was committed to it all the time with this car, the Megane Coupe, initially launched in early 2009 but significantly improved in the facelifted form we’re looking here first seen in the UK in early 2012.
This, the French brand always contended, was much more than just a three-door version of their Megane family hatch - and the facts seem to bear that out. Only the bonnet, the wings and the headlamps are shared between the two designs and, perhaps more importantly, this Coupe boasts a sharper handling set-up under its swooping skin. But rivals could still seem to be more bespoke to coupe customers, hence Renault’s decision to make significant changes to this faceliftedpost-2012 model. These included a smarter look, an improved specification and some impressive engines. This model sold until the new Megane range was introduced in mid-2016.
What To Look For
The Mégane Coupe's powerplants have a good reliability record but customer satisfaction surveys show the Renault still has some way to go to approach the class best when it comes to reliability of electronics and servicing costs. The cabins look great when new but after surveying a few used examples, some of the dash materials can look a little scratched quite easily. As a result, it’ll help if you make sure the car you’re looking at is in perfect condition. Check for crash damage, make sure kids haven't damaged the rear upholstery or seat backs and ensure that sunroofs, central locking and alarms all work.
On The Road
Is this an enthusiast’s sports coupe? Well the brilliant Renaultsport 265 variants suggest that it certainly can be. But the majority of buyers in the affordable sports coupe sector don’t want to visit Sainsburys via Silverstone and it’s for them that the majority of Megane Coupe models were designed. All variants ride lower than their model equivalents in the standard Megane five-door family hatchback range. As a result, the ride is noticeably firmer but still far from uncomfortable on a well-surfaced road. Indeed, this Renault must be one of the smoothest-riding small coupes out there from this period.
But an absorbent ride is not primarily what people buy cars of this kind to get and those same people would doubtless be disappointed if they were to be served up little more than an ordinary Megane five-door with a sportier look. Especially as that ordinary Megane isn’t renown as a driver’s choice in its segment. Fortunately, there aren’t too many disappointments of that kind. Even the humblest Megane Coupe models roll significantly less than their five-door counterparts and if you go for a GT line variant, you also get a Sport chassis with stiffer springs and dampers and a lower front roll centre height, all contributing to a centre of gravity rendered 112mm lower.
But here, we’re focusing on more affordable models in a post-2012 improved range that boasted an engine line-up enhanced with the addition of three fuel efficient Stop & Start units. Perhaps the most interesting of the trio was the 1.2 TCe unit, the first Renault petrol engine to use direct fuel injection and turbocharging to gain fuel-efficient performance. It’ represented yet another example of engine down-sizing in this segment and was a vast improvement over the 1.6-litre 16v petrol model this variant was designed to replace. Its driving experience is certainly much nicer.
Ultimately though, for diesel-like pulling power, you really need a diesel and the vast majority of Megane Coupe customers opted for one in 1.5-litre form. The 1.5-litre dCi 110 unit has long been Renault’s best-selling global engine and original customers who wisely ignored the older entry-level 90bhp variant could order it in three flavours: with or without Stop & Start or mated to a clever 6-speed EDC automatic gearbox, one of those silky-smooth twin-clutch systems that selects the next gear before you’ve even left the last one.
There are plenty of tempting options for you to consider if you’re looking for an affordable sports coupe from the 2012 to 2016 period in today’s used car market. Trendier options than this one? Perhaps. But better ones? Maybe not. The kind of cars you’d maybe ideally like in this segment are all significantly more expensive than this Megane Coupe. And those that can rival it for value aren’t as practical – or as economic to run. This then, may not be the coupe you’ve always dreamed of. But it may very well be the one you actually need.