Renault Clio V6: Retro Road Test

Renault Clio V6: Retro Road Test

Renault Clio V6: Retro Road Test

This is what happened when Renault was going through one of its off-the-wall phases and decided to stick a V6 engine into the Clio supermini. It wouldn’t fit in the front, so the rear seats had to come out, and a 3.0-litre motor slotted in above the rear wheels.

It’s a hot hatch that was described as a ‘classic’ even when it was new – with many astonished that it even made production. The first-generation model developed a reputation for being particularly lairy, while the phase-two cars (like the one tested here) had some input from Porsche and are more desirable.

What are its rivals?

The Clio V6 was the fastest hot hatch money could buy when it was new. Potential buyers might also consider the Alfa Romeo 147 GTA or SEAT Leon Cupra R, but neither were anywhere near as bonkers as the Renault. In reality, it was closer to being a Porsche 911 in a supermini body than a hot hatch.

What engine does it use?

The Clio V6 was launched at a time when mainstream French cars were available with a 3.0-litre petrol V6. It was already used in models such as the Laguna, Vel Satis and even Espace people carrier, not to mention the Peugeot 406 and Citroen Xantia.

By the second generation model, power had been boosted to 255hp, thanks to a revised cylinder head and induction system.

What’s it like to drive?

What’s it like to drive?

First impressions: this feels like a 12-year-old Renault Clio. The interior is drab, while you sit far too high up – but that’s all par for the course when it comes to hot hatches. Start it up and the sound isn’t exactly thunderous, either.

It only starts to feel a little special when you put your foot on the clutch and select first gear. The clutch is Land Rover Defender-heavy, while the gearbox feels snickety in a way you don’t expect from a Clio.

Pull away and – huge turning circle aside – it all feels a bit, well, ordinary. There are creaks and rattles (and bear in mind this is a cared-for 20,000-mile example), the steering seems surprisingly light and uncommunicative, while you keep telling yourself that it’ll make up for it as soon as you hit a stretch of national speed limit road and open it up.

Does is get better? Well, sort of. It sounds good as you (slowly) rev towards its 7,500rpm redline, but the performance isn’t up to the standard of modern hot hatches. It’ll hit 62mph in 6.0 seconds – an astonishing figure back in the early noughties, but something we’re all too used to now. The V6 feels lazy by today’s standards, too. It’s just not as frantic as you might expect from its appearance.

At least, being mid-engined, there’s none of that torque steer we associate with hot hatches of this era. It feels like it has an abundance of traction, and the later models don’t have the same reputation for being a handful that the early ones did.

Unfortunately, the manic excitement promised by its looks doesn’t really come. Period reviews of the car suggest it takes a little time to get into the rhythm of the Clio V6. And being spoilt by the instant gratification of modern hot hatches probably doesn’t help its case in 2016. It didn’t leave us buzzing with exhilaration, though.

Reliability and running costs

Reliability and running costs

The Clio V6 isn’t as unreliable as you might think, although finding a good specialist willing to work on it might be tricky. The position of the engine makes DIY maintenance difficult, and insurance companies are likely to be a little wary if you’re young or have a number of crashed hot hatches to your name.

You’d be lucky to achieve 20mpg and a tank will be emptied in less than 300 miles, meaning it’s more of a B-road blaster than a continent crosser.

Could I drive it every day?

With prices as strong as they are (and rising), and numbers of the later 255 model hovering at around 150 on UK roads, it’d be a shame to drive one of these every day. And why would you want to, frankly? The interior is pretty grim for spending a large chunk of your life in, and the novelty factor of driving a two-seat mid-engined Clio every day would soon get boring. If you want a sports car as a daily, buy a Porsche Cayman. A Clio V6 is best kept for occasional use. Or just to admire in the garage.

How much should I pay?

How much should I pay?

If you’re after one, this example we’ve driven is currently on sale at 4 Star Classics for £34,995. For that money, you expect the very best – and, to be fair, this is probably it. With just 20,000 miles and not a mark on its bodywork, it could be a safe investment, even at nearly £8,000 more than its retail price when new.

A budget of slightly more than £20,000 will pick you up an early phase-one model (these have a reputation for being even friskier, so be careful), while a useable phase-two can be bought for around £28,000.

What should I look out for?

Obvious ones are signs of abuse and crash damage. Even the latest V6 Clios are more than 10 years old now, and in Renault hot hatch years that’s a long time if it’s been ragged from cold, missed services and chucked into the odd hedge sideways.

With the engine where it is, even checking the oil isn’t particularly easy, so some owners just don’t bother. Take it for a good test drive. Do all the gears select easily (if not, there might be synchromesh issues), and do the brakes stop the car in a straight line without any untoward noises?

Inspect the bodywork – damage can be pricey to fix – and check the wheels for signs of kerbing. The slightest nudge can knock out the tracking.

Should I buy one?

Should I buy one?

A budget of £35,000 buys you a lot of car. You could treat yourself to the brilliant Ford Focus RS, fresh out of the factory, and have a couple of grand left over. Or, on the secondhand market, how about a mint Lotus Exige, a more useable Porsche Cayman, or even a three-year-old BMW M3?

None of these have the novelty factor of being an ageing French supermini from a time when Renault was bonkers enough to use a mid-engined V6. Do you want to be different that much? Only you can make that call.

Pub fact

Rumour has it, when the Clio V6 was being developed, Volkswagen heard that a 3.0-litre Clio was being produced. Not to be outdone on the efficiency stakes, the Lupo 3L was rushed into development – with the goal of consuming just three litres of fuel per 100km. The result was a very different car to the Clio V6…

Thanks to 4 Star Classics for the loan of the Renault Clio V6

2017 Renault Zoe

The 2017 Renault Zoe electric car does 250 miles on a charge

2017 Renault ZoeThe revised Renault Zoe electric car supermini, which is now on sale in the UK, will now do up to 250 miles on a single charge in range-topping Z.E.40 guise.

The new battery in the Zoe EV boosts power from 22kW to 40kW, significantly increasing the range on the official NEDC test cycle. Storage capacity has almost doubled.

Could these perks encourage you to drive an electric car?

Best new cars for £200 a month

Renault’s £174 Zoe deal: batteries now included

Renault adds that in real-world driving, the battery will do 186 miles in everyday conditions, and even stretch to 124 miles when it’s extremely cold.

The new battery also offers quick-charge functionality. Renault bundles each Zoe with a free fast-charging wall box, capable of charging a battery from flat to 100% full in less than four hours.

Renault’s curious battery lease scheme has been further tweaked for the 2017 Zoe, with the newer, more straightforward and less divisive outright purchase scheme sitting alongside it. Drivers who cover up to 4,500 miles a year can lease a 22kW battery for £49 a month or the Z.E.40 battery for £59 a month. Other options are available, including an unlimited mileage scheme for the Z.E.40, costing £110 a month.

The new 2017 Zoe range starts at £18,995 for the iExpression Nav R90 22kW, once the government Plug-in Car Grant has been taken off. That’s if you buy the batteries: lease them, and the price falls to £13,995 (lease cars lose the ‘i’ at the start of their name).

The Z.E.40 battery starts at £23,445, or £17,845 if you’re happy to lease the batteries.

How to spot a 2017 Renault Zoe

2017 Renault Zoe EV

The new 2017 Zoe looks very similar to the outgoing model. There are three new colours, tweaked alloy wheels and instead of having a blue Renault logo and badging, it’s now chrome.

A posh range-topping Signature Nav trim has been added, with heated leather seats, BOSE stereo, rear parking camera and fancy alloy wheels.

Expression and Dynamique Nav models remain – and even the base Expression gets TomTom sat nav, climate control, Bluetooth and 7in touchscreen. There’s now a Renault Z.E. Connect app that lets you monitor charging remotely. It’s a £75 option.

Renault has also tweaked the model names of its Zoe range. Previously, motors were dubbed R240 or Q210 – that’s either rapid or quick charge, and the range in kilometres.

Now, they’re known as R90 and Q90 – indicating power output in hp rather than range.

The new Renault Zoe range is on sale now. First UK deliveries are expected in January 2017.

2017 Renault Zoe prices – outright purchase

  • iExpression Nav R90 22kW: £18,995
  • iDynamique Nav R90 Z.E.40: £23,445
  • iDynamique Nav Q90 Z.E.40: £24,195
  • iSignature Nav R90 Z.E.40: £25,495
  • iSignature Nav Q90 Z.E.40: £26,245

All prices after Plug-in Car Grant

2017 Renault Zoe prices – battery lease

  • Expression Nav R90 22kW: £13,995
  • Dynamique Nav R90 Z.E.40: £17,845
  • Dynamique Nav Q90 Z.E.40: £18,595
  • Signature Nav R90 Z.E.40: £19,895
  • Signature Nav Q90 Z.E.40: £20,645

All prices after Plug-in Car Grant

Carlos Ghosn

Nissan has taken control of Mitsubishi

Carlos GhosnNissan taken control of Japanese rival Mitsubishi by completing a deal to take a 34% equity stake in the crisis-hit manufacturer.

Mitsubishi will become part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance – which is now one of the world’s top three car groups. Combined, they will this year sell more than 10 million cars.

It means the tireless Carlos Ghosn, already CEO of Renault and Nissan, now becomes chairman of Mitsubishi too. He has conducted a reshuffle of his management time so he can find the time to do it – and one of them is a Brit: Nissan chief performance officer Trevor Mann now becomes COO of Mitsubishi.

Mitsubishi was ripe for takeover after admitting it had been lying about the fuel consumption of dozens of models for the past 25 years. Ghosn, never one to mince his words, admitted Mitsubishi was on the ropes and the equity takeover was one charged with helping it recover.

“We are committed to assisting Mitsubishi Motors as it rebuilds customer trust,” said Ghosn. “This is a priority as we pursue the synergies and growth potential of our enlarged relationship.”

Economies of scale will give the giant new global group “breakthrough technologies and manufacturing capabilities to produce vehicles to serve customer demand in every market segment and in every geographic market around the world.” It possesses a formidable arsenal of size, reach and technology.

“At a time of unprecedented change in the global auto industry, this strategy will build on our existing strengths and management capabilities to ensure increased competitiveness, better products for our customers and attractive returns for shareholders.”

Could these perks encourage you to drive an electric car?

Could these perks encourage you to drive an electric car?

Could these perks encourage you to drive an electric car?

Time-saving perks such as being able to drive in bus lanes could convince company car drivers to consider electric vehicles, fleet and leasing company Arval has said.

Four Go Ultra Low cities – Nottingham, Bristol, Milton Keynes and London – received shares of £40 million government funding earlier this year and are now starting to implement schemes to encourage EV use.

Milton Keynes is offering free parking for EVs while Nottingham and Derby are expected to allow EV drivers to use bus lanes in the future.

“Anyone who has ever worked in Milton Keynes knows that most of the parking is publicly operated and quite expensive, so free parking is a genuine benefit,” said Arval UK’s fleet consultant David Watts.

“Similarly, the Nottingham and Derby scheme to offer EVs access to bus lanes is something that costs the council little but gives a genuinely useful advantage to EV company car drivers or fleet operators. If you could knock 10 minutes off your commute every day or reduce the travelling time between jobs for commercial drivers, then this is another positive element for those people and organisations that are starting to consider an EV.”

Although the schemes won’t encourage overnight adoption of electric cars, says Arval, it will contribute towards a ‘nudge’ effect that could see more widespread adoption by fleets and company car users.

Alternatively-fuelled cars are still a small niche – accounting for just 3.4% of all new cars registered last month – but they are increasing in popularity, with registrations up a third in September compared to the same period in 2015.

“We are at a stage where there is widespread interest in EVs but relatively few fleets have bitten the bullet and actually acquired any,” added Watts. “However, momentum is building. There is growing awareness of how to operationally manage the limited range of EVs and the circumstances in which they are most appropriate for businesses.

“Vehicles like the Tesla Model S have had an impact on EV perception because of their range. The moment that increased range technology begins to filter down to more mainstream areas of the fleet sector, there are a lot of people who we believe will not hesitate to go EV.”

Renaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

Last blast: a fast farewell to the Renaultsport Megane

Renaultsport Megane 275 Cup-SVisit the Nurburgring and you’ll mostly spot three types of car in the car park: Porsche 911s, BMW M3s and Renaultsport Meganes. The Megane may have lost its front-wheel-drive lap record to the Honda Civic Type R, then the VW Golf GTI Clubsport S, but it remains a firm favourite of weekend racers.

However, a new Megane has already hit the streets and an RS version follows in late 2017. We already know it will have rear-wheel steering like the Megane GT. It may have a semi-automatic gearbox like the Renaultsport Clio. It could even have four-wheel drive. Clearly, time is running out for Renault’s old-school hot hatch.

With that in mind, we decided to have one last blast in the Megane RS: driven here in run-out 275 Cup-S spec. Join us for a fond – and very fast – farewell.

Surrey, in a hurryRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

Squaring up against the 350hp Ford Focus RS, 310hp Honda Civic Type R and 300hp Volkswagen Golf R, the 275hp Megane appears to have turned up to a sword-fight brandishing a baguette. Still, we’d hardly call 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 158mph slow. And it’s the way the RS goes around corners that counts.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many corners of note in south London: certainly nothing to worry the Nurburgring. So we set the sat nav for deepest Surrey, in search of roads that could at least bring those Bridgestone Potenzas up to operating temperature. Time to find out if the ageing Megane still cuts it.

A bumpy startRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

We settle into the snug Recaro seat and grasp the chunky Alcantara wheel with its racecar-style centre marker. So far, so good. Then our eyes begin to wander over a dashboard that’s more akin to a mid-90s minicab. Hmmm. Creature comforts have never been the Megane’s strong suit.

Neither, it turns out, has ride quality. On stiff springs with Öhlins Road and Track adjustable dampers, the RS jitters and jars over urban pockmarks, while drain covers and sleeping policemen transmit thuds and thumps. By the time we cross the M25, we’re feeling shaken, but not stirred.

Manual labourRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

We pass a national speed limit sign and, at last, it’s time to test the Megane’s mettle. Its 2.0-litre engine wakes up with a growl, punching us forward with a wallop of turbocharged torque. It may be front-wheel drive, but there’s no shortage of traction: a mechanical limited-slip differential – part of the Cup chassis pack – sees to that.

As standard, the RS has 250hp: you need to select Sport mode for the full 275 horses. Doing so also sharpens throttle response, ramping up the intensity to a level only surpassed by the Civic Type R. No doubt, the Megane still feels ferociously fast, its Akrapovic titanium exhaust popping deliciously as you stir the six-speed gearbox. It simply begs to be driven hard.

Grunt and gripRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

If the Renault is quick in a straight line, that’s nothing compared to its appetite for bends. We were worried that it might simply be too taut for British tarmac, but find a flowing B-road and suddenly that stiff suspension starts to make sense. Where lesser hot hatches might float or flex, the Megane feels positively tied-down. It turns in with pinpoint precision, holding its line with the tenacity of a ravenous rottweiler. Then, that diff works its magic and catapults you towards the next corner.

Shifting to neutralRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

It would be easy to get carried away, sure, but unlike many rear-wheel-drive sports cars (or indeed some hot hatches: we’re looking at you, Peugeot 205 GTI) the Megane won’t bite back. Push harder than you think sensible and it just grips. Push stupidly hard and it will understeer safely.

You’re unlikely to even get near the Renault’s limits on dry roads, although that neutral balance is reassuring in wet weather – particularly if you’ve opted for the track-focused Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres. Likewise, if you are using your car on a circuit, it’s good to know that it won’t dump you unceremoniously in the gravel the first time you make a mistake.

Steer we goRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

We should also talk about the Megane’s superb steering. Instead of isolating you from the road below, it’s feels positively alive in your hands. The downside of any powerful front-driver is, inevitably, torque steer, but – for us at least – this slight unruliness under full-bore acceleration only adds to the appeal.

Besides, this is no ditch-seeking missile like the old Astra VXR. The steering weights-up consistently in corners, helping you place the car with confidence. It works with you, not against you – allowing you to explore its abilities without exceeding yours.

Beefy brakesRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

What else makes the Megane great to drive? Well, there are the strong, progressive brakes, which haul the car to a halt swiftly and – so we’re told – stand up well to track-day use and abuse.

There’s also the six-speed manual gearbox, which offers a short throw and a pleasingly mechanical feel. For anyone who’s sampled the clonky EDC twin-clutch ’box in the Renaultsport Clio, that should come as no small relief. Flappy paddles? Who needs ’em?

Adrenalin shotRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

Phew! We pull into a services and take a breather. The Megane might be a four-wheeled adrenalin-shot, but we still need our mid-morning dose of caffeine. Slipping a flat white and listening to the exhaust ticking as it cools gives us time to reflect. What a drive of two halves: the first an awkward and uncomfortable suburban slog, the second a riotous rural romp.

Where some hot hatches are great all-rounders (step forward, Golf GTI), the Megane is more focused, and more specific in its abilities. If said GTI is a flat white, the RS is a double espresso.

Plastic, not fantasticRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

Stopping for a break also gives us time to look around the Megane’s interior. Sacré bleu. Renault must have blown its budget on the chassis, leaving nothing for niceties. The plastics are brittle, ergonomics are haphazard and build quality feels shoddy. ‘Typical French car’, you might think, but there’s no quirky Gallic charm here. Optional Recaros aside, it’s dull and slightly depressing – and don’t even get us started on that fragile, card-shaped key. No wonder Renault has had a complete re-think – including a large tablet-style touchscreen – for the latest Megane.

Track timerRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

If there’s one redeeming feature inside the Megane RS, it’s the Renaultsport Monitor, a data-tracking system similar to what you’d find in a Nissan GT-R. As well as providing info about the major functions, such as turbo pressure and oil temperature, it provides real-time data about engine torque and power – plus straight-line and cornering G-forces.

With an eye on track use, there’s also a lap timer and an 0-400m and 0-62mph acceleration timer. We confess, the temptation to use the latter at traffic lights was simply too much. And yes, in case you wondered, we matched the official 5.8-second 0-62mph time after several attempts. After which we gave a clutch a well-earned rest…

Going with the flowRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

Crossing the county border into Hampshire, we drove through picturesque villages linked by leafy lanes. Away from the sprawl of London, traffic had thinned and the sun finally burst through the scattering clouds. The Megane felt in its element here, hunkering down and devouring each ribbon of tarmac. One of our esteemed journalist colleagues described it as ‘the 911 GT3 of hot hatches’, and he had a point. The RS is an awesome tool at maximum attack – probably faster than a supercar on narrow roads like these – yet it ‘flows’ like only a truly great driver’s car can.

Lane disciplineRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

Still, all good things must come to an end, and my patient passenger was tiring of the rock-hard ride and my attempts to play Sebastien Loeb. So we joined the M3 and headed back east, switching off the Renaultsport Monitor and switching on the radio (you can only operate one at a time).

On the motorway, the Megane felt out of its comfort zone again. Its hyperactive steering needs regular corrections to stay in lane. That radio is pretty awful, too: sound quality is tinnier than an old Renault 5. At least the exhaust offers a great soundtrack – and not one that’s augmented by the speakers, thank God.

Options add upRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

The Renaultsport Megane has its faults, and there are many, but it’s certainly cheap. On paper, at least. Prices for the 275 Cup-S start at just £23,935: more than £7,000 less than a Ford Focus RS. However, much like the 911 GT3 mentioned earlier, many owners will spend big on options to transform their car into a fully-armed track terrorist.

Case in point: our test car cost a jaw-dropping £33,555, which included Recaro seats (£1,300), larger 19in alloys (£1,000), Öhlins dampers (£2,000), the Akrapovic exhaust (£2,500) and more. Sorry Renault, but at that price we’d have the Ford.

End of the affairRenaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S

We loved our brief fling with the Megane, but we’re not sold on a long-term relationship. The great thing about hot hatches is they’re multi-taskers, as capable on the school-run as the Stelvio Pass. The RS is a fabulous driving machine, no question, but it’s too compromised to be an everyday car. And frankly, if we wanted weekend fun, we’d rather put the cash towards a used Porsche Cayman. Or perhaps a Caterham for track days.

Nonetheless, we will miss the Renaultsport Megane. Its place in the history books – and in our hearts – is assured. The next Megane RS promises to be altogether different. Let’s hope it’s even half as desirable.

Renault Trezor concept car teaser

Radical Renault Trezor EV concept set for Paris

Renault Trezor concept car teaserRenault has announced it will tease its future brand identity at the Paris Motor Show with a new concept car called Trezor.

It kicks off a new chapter of Renault styling, says the firm: since 2010’s groundbreaking DeZir, the firm has renewed its entire range. Now it’s time to do it again.

Trezor is our first look and, while this teaser doesn’t tell us a fat lot, Renault does hint at a new styling signature “founded on simple, warm and sensuous lines”. Once again, it will be overseen by design chief Laurens van den Acker.

It has a ‘z’ in its name because it’s an all-electric car; Renault goes on to say something about conjuring up a prized, multifaceted object ready to be discovered, but by this stage we had glazed over at this designer-speak.

Renault will reveal the Trezor at 0915h on Thursday 29 September; van den Acker and Groupe Renault chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn will do the honours.

Tune in then to see the first look of Renault’s future new look.

2016 Renault Scenic review: can MPVs be sexy?

2016 Renault Scenic review: can MPVs be sexy?

2016 Renault Scenic review: can MPVs be sexy?

Apparently people still buy compact people carriers. Despite typical buyers of yesteryear part-exchanging their Scenics for crossovers by droves, Renault claims sales in the sector have actually shown a small incline over the last couple of years – and it’s aiming to cash in on that by giving the Scenic ‘sex appeal’.

How is the Scenic sexy?

Yes, revealed at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show, the Scenic (and its bigger brethren, the Grand Scenic) is ‘the very last word in seductive appeal’ (Renault’s words, not ours). It features a steeply-raked panoramic windscreen, along with a two-tone colour scheme and a wider stance than its predecessor.

There’s no doubt it’s aesthetically more pleasing than the Scenic of old, but how does it drive?

How does it drive?

The new Scenic and Grand Scenic are much better to drive. No, it’s not exactly a Caterham 7 (or even a Ford C-Max for that matter), but it remains composed in corners – and the lack of bodyroll should help keep child sickness at bay. The steering is on the light side… we’d like a bit more feedback at higher speeds, but it’s a breeze to manoeuvre through town (visibility helps there, too).

It’s on 20-inch alloys

It’s on 20-inch alloys

The Scenic’s handling is helped by the 20-inch alloys, standard on all models. We’re used to seeing stunning-looking cars on huge alloys at motor shows, but the attractive looks are often a little spoilt by speccing the entry-level model with 17-inch steelies. Renault is making a bold move with its new Scenic (and bigger Grand Scenic) by only offering it on larger wheels.

Doesn’t that ruin the ride?

A little. Renault says the 107mm tyre wall is the same as the 17-inch wheel on its predecessor, meaning you won’t feel every lump and bump in the road like you do in some cars fitted with big alloys. While it’s true that the Scenic has a moderately compliant ride, it’s not exactly the French waftmobile you might be looking for. We are yet to drive it on UK roads, but we suspect we might be longing for smaller wheels.

What about the cost of tyres?

Another drawback or big alloys is the pricier tyres that go with them. Renault says it’s been working with major tyre manufacturers to ensure it won’t cost any more to replace the tyres on a new scenic than if it was fitted with 17-inchers. A quick online search suggests you’ll have to budget around £120 a tyre to replace them on the new Scenic. That’s not cheap.

It is a bit noisy

It is a bit noisy

There’s only so much engineers can do to reduce wind noise created by something the shape of the Renault Scenic, but we were still surprised by how noisy it is at motorway speeds. Both the Scenic and Grand Scenic models had us checking to see if we’d mistakenly left a window slightly open. It could get very annoying on long journeys.

How big’s the boot?

If you’re considering a Scenic, you’re likely to be more concerned by practicality than how fun it is to drive. We’ll hit you with some stats: the Renault Scenic boasts a best-in-class 572 litres of boot space, while the Grand Scenic has 596 litres.

There’s a catch…

The Renault Grand Scenic is a seven-seater, and with those rear seats in place, boot space is pretty woeful (just 189 litres, or barely half the size of a Ford Focus hatchback). That’s the norm for this sector… give a compact MPV seven seats and a big boot and it’ll no longer be, well, compact.

That aside, is it pretty practical?

That aside, is it pretty practical?

Underfloor compartments along with a clever sliding centre console means there’s plenty of storage space, and kids should be fairly happy in the back. It’s not overly roomy if you’re carrying adult passengers in the rear, however – and the third row of seats on the Grand Scenic really are for occasional use only.

It doesn’t feel like an MPV

One reason that many previous buyers of compact MPVs have turned towards crossovers is that, in the old days, they used to be pretty horrible to drive. We’re not talking about the nuances of their handling, but everything from the bus-like driving position to the plethora of wipe-clean plastics in the cabin. While there’s still some of the latter (although the cabin is fairly upmarket), you sit relatively low down in the Scenic and the huge panoramic sunroof fitted to our test car made for an airy cabin.

Is it safe?

If you’re looking for a car to carry your kids, you understandably want the safest you can buy. The Scenic’s been awarded a five-star Euro NCAP crash rating, with reinforced steels used to keep your family safe in the event of a crash. There’s a host of technology, too – such as fatigue alert, which monitors the driver and tells them to pull over if they’re showing signs of being tired.

It’s got a neat 8.7-inch infotainment screen

It’s got a neat 8.7-inch infotainment screen

Buttons are out, huge tablet-esque infotainment screens are in. We’ve already seen Renault’s latest portrait attempt in the Megane, and it’s a fairly intuitive system to use. Standard on the top two trims, R-Link 2 looks great, but can be a little slow to respond.

But there are still some buttons…

Despite this, Renault hasn’t entirely eliminated the buttons from the dash. Some are a little awkwardly-placed (the cruise control looks to have been located for the convenience of front-seat passengers, for example), and others seem to do little more than act as shortcuts to some of the R-Links functions.

Talk to me about engines

Buyers get a wide choice of engines: from a 115hp 1.2-litre petrol to a 160hp 1.6-litre diesel. We tried the regular Scenic in 130hp 1.2-litre guise, and found it to be well up to the job of shifting the people carrier. It’s a little noisy when pushed, and the six-speed gearbox is a little clunky to use, but it’s a likeable powertrain overall.

What about the diesel?

What about the diesel?

We also spent some time driving the Grand Scenic with the 160hp diesel engine with the six-speed automatic gearbox. This is better suited to the hauling around the extra mass of the seven-seater. The auto ‘box is quick enough to respond (selecting sport mode allows hastier roundabout negotiations), and the diesel engine is a refined unit.

How efficient is the Scenic?

Officially, the petrol TCe 130 Scenic we tested returns 48.7mpg and emits 129g/km CO2. The top-of-the-range 160hp dCi diesel returns 60.1mpg and 122g/km CO2 in Grand Scenic guise. While the diesel would be tempting for high-mileage users, we wouldn’t automatically dismiss the petrol.

There’s a ‘hybrid assist’ model

For those wanting maximum eco points, Renault’s jumping on the hybrid bandcamp. It’s in a slightly half-hearted manner, though, with its ‘hybrid assist’ model. This combines the dCi 110 diesel engine with a 10kW electric motor which recuperates energy during deceleration and provides as much as 11lb ft of extra torque when required.

Is the hybrid assist worth the extra?

Is the hybrid assist worth the extra?

The result is a drop in CO2 emissions from 100g/km to 92g/km and improved MPG from 72 to 80. We don’t know how much it’ll cost when it makes it to the UK, but advantages in terms of road and company car tax are minimal. Worth the extra? Probably not.

What are its rivals?

The Scenic’s main competitor is fellow French MPV, the futuristic Citroen C4 Picasso – and you should also consider the Ford C-Max and Volkswagen Tiguan. Our first impressions suggest it should be high up on your shortlist.

Verdict: 2016 Renault Scenic

We remain to be convinced that there is much of a market for the Scenic and Grand Scenic – we’d sooner drive a Captur or Kadjar – but if you’ve decided a compact MPV will work for you, there’s a lot to like about the Scenic.

While we’ll stop short of describing it as ‘sexy’, it’s certainly a more interesting and appealing proposition that Scenics of old – and more attractive than drab rivals such as the Volkswagen Tiguan, too.

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

Renault Megane 1.6 TCE 205 GT Nav (2016) review

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)The new Renault Megane is such an important car for Renault, it couldn’t wait to let us drive it. We first drove it back in the tail end of 2015 but only now is it arriving in UK dealer showrooms. Time for a reminder of what the fourth generation of Renault’s Volkswagen Golf alternative is like.

A very good looking car indeed, that’s what it’s like. Easily the best-looking family hatch you can buy, no? The gorgeous design is particularly smart in some of Renault’s smart new colours, such as the Iron Blue hue our GT test car came in. Renault knows styling sells: the Megane will do well before people even get behind the wheel.

Prices and deals

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

The new Megane range starts from a very keen £16,600 but we went straight to the top of the range here with the 205 1.6-litre TCe GT Nav. Boasting a seven-speed EDC automatic as standard, it costs £25,500: that’s Ford Focus ST territory. The Ford perhaps is the exception though: a Volkswagen Golf GTI costs £28,500. The GT is a warm hatch Renault: the new Renault Sport Megane follows later…

Renault will happily give you £1,750 towards the deposit on its three-year PCP deal if you’re keen: with an APR of 3.99%, this means a GT Megane would cost £359 a month, with an up-front customer deposit of £3,301. That seems a bit steep to us: deals on rivals can take the monthly cost to below £300 a month.

What are its rivals?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

As mentioned, the new Megane GT is priced like a Ford Focus ST but has a 45hp power deficit; it’s not the full-fat hot hatch Renault’s planning to take on the Ford, Volkswagen and others. See it instead as a well-equipped, uniquely-styled warm hatch alternative to cars such as the Peugeot 308 GT and SEAT Leon FR.

Let’s hope the Renault’s bespoke styling and kit-packed cabin convinces customers: it looks pricey compared to a £21,285 Vauxhall Astra SRi Nav 1.6T 200 or a £23,610 Kia Cee’d GT. And back to that Focus ST: it starts at just £22,750, with even an ST-2 costing £1,000 less than the Renault…

What engine does it use?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

The 1.6-litre turbo engine is a Renault Nissan Alliance staple used in other hot models from the two brands; the Renault Sport Clio, Nissan Juke Nismo and Nissan Pulsar 1.6 DiG-T amongst others (well, two out of three ain’t bad…). 205 hp is complemented by 207lb-ft of torque. The dual-clutch EDC transmission is your only choice.

There’s something else too: Renault fits electronic rear-wheel steering to the Megane GT. With just 2.3 turns lock-to-lock, it’s very fast and gives the manoeuvrability of a much smaller car without trading stability at speed. Sector-unique tech, it’s a real standout feature of the GT.

How fast?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

The seven-speed EDC’s launch control function helps it consistently run 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds, just a hair’s breadth behind a Ford Fiesta ST. As there’s more chance of them fluffing a gearchange, your traffic light grand prix status should be secure. It’s capable of 143mph all-out.

How do you use Renault launch control? Left foot on the brake pedal, pull and hold both gearshift paddles until ‘Launch Control On’ flashes on the dash. Floor the accelerator, release the brake pedal: cue the perfect launch.

Is it comfortable?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

Big wheels mean the ride is a bit flaky in town, but it smooths out at speed. This is intentionally more GT than hot hatch so, if anything, the suspension might feel a touch too soft when you’re really chucking it about: generally, though, it’s a reasonably comfortable middle ground, with generally good body control. It’s quiet too, and Renault’s kept road bump-thump noise at bay.

Will I enjoy driving it?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

You’ll find driving the Megane GT fascinating for one reason: the rear-wheel steering. This gives it stand-out agility for a family hatch: you can feel the rear end turning as soon as you move the steering wheel, making it very responsive and sharp. It’s not unnerving though: while not particularly purist, it does make the GT more interesting to drive.

Fuel economy and running costs

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

In common with many fizzed-up downsized turbo petrols, the 47.1mpg claimed economy of this 205hp motor is impressive (and aided by the EDC gearbox’s efficient shift patterns in auto mode). CO2 of 134g/km will keep it out of 2017’s punitive £500 VED tax band and Renault’s four-year warranty can be combined with a £499 four-year service pack to further control running costs. Just be careful of those big 18-inch diamond-cut alloys on kerbs…

What’s the interior like?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

The dashboard is dominated by a big Tesla-style touchscreen that works really well. It’s a feature of the pricier Meganes and is worth the upgrade as it’s a treat to use. The GT’s ultra-deep, bolstered front seats are excellent, and the configurable electronic dial pack is top-notch. The steering wheel is gorgeous too.

Is it practical?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

It looks superb yet still has five doors and a hatchback: this is good. What’s less good is interior packaging. It’s OK up front. The problem is the rear. Getting in and out is tricky and legroom is far too tight for a supposed family-friendly car. Time and again this is a grumble of French family hatchbacks: despite its all-new platform, the new Megane is no exception.

The boot is decent on paper with a 384-litre load space (four litres more than a VW Golf, note), although the oddly broad sill might make it tricky for some – loading items in will be OK but getting them out might be a stretch. Oh, and why, Renault, is there such a large upswept wiper patch on the driver’s side, blocking inches of forward vision in the rain?

Tell me about the tech

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

Four-wheel steering turns the rear wheels opposite to the fronts at low speeds, to aid agility, then in the same direction at high speeds to boost stability. Full LED headlights are paired with fine-looking LED units at the rear and, within the Tesla-style touchscreen, ‘multi-sense’ driving mode settings allow you to customise a whole host of settings even down to the engine sound.

What about safety?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

Renaults always perform well in Euro NCAP crash tests and this new one isn’t an exception: it scored five stars in 2015. Standard safety kit includes lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, speed limiter and understeer detection: AEB automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control are a bargain £400 option.

Which version should I go for?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

The GT Megane currently only offers the warmish 205hp 1.6-litre turbo petrol engine. If you want anything more economical, you’ll have to go for the cheaper GT-look GT Line Nav, which has 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre dCi diesel options. Next year, though, a 165hp twin-turbo 1.6-litre dCi will come in four-wheel-steer GT trim. We’d probably go for that one.

What’s the used alternative?

A Golf GTI is more expensive new but it’s certainly not secondhand: hunt out a nearly-new GTI or GTD for an appealing alternative to the Megane GT. If it’s not hot enough for you, also consider the runout Megane Renault Sport Cup-S (get one new, while you can, from £23,995, or much less if you can find a pre-registered one).

Should I buy one?

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

We’d probably wait for that twin-turbo diesel, frankly. Or maybe the full-fat Renault Sport Megane. The GT is interesting, with its sharp four-wheel steering and beautiful styling (honestly, it’s a peach to look at). But it occupies an odd middle ground: British buyers in particular prefer hot to warm and, when a Ford Focus ST is so comparatively well priced (and, ironically, so much more practical), it’s hard to see how the Megane GT might sway you. Unless, that is, styling really does sell.

Pub fact

Renault Megane 1.6 TCe 205 GT Nav (2016)

This may not be a Renault Sport Megane but Renault Sport has still had a hand in it, fitting bespoke springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. The chassis thus shows breeding missing from lesser Meganes and is a more satisfying warm hatch than most.

Renault Sport Megane 275 Cup-S

The last Renault hot hatch legend will be sold in Britain

Renault Sport Megane 275 Cup-SRenault Sport has built its last Megane III hot hatch and, because Britain loves them more than any other country, the era-ending right-hand drive variant is now on sale at Renault’s Dundee dealership.

The last-of-the-line Renault Sport Megane 275 Cup-S, in Liquid Yellow, is up for sale at Arnold Clark but franchise manager David Munton doesn’t expect it to be around for long.

Not least because Renault UK has now given it so much free publicity.

“As a long-time Renault Dealer, we know first-hand that Renault Sport fans are passionate about the brand,” he said.

“It’s great to have the final third generation Megane Renault Sport to ever be produced in our showroom – it looks sensational in Liquid Yellow and the optional Öhlins dampers and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres are sure to be thrilling to drive on road or on track.”

Renault Sport Megane 275 Cup-S

Renault has sold more than 30,000 third-generation Renault Sport Meganes; launched in 2009 as the Megane Renault Sport 250, it’s been boosted to 265hp and finally to 275hp. It was sold in more than 30 countries but Britain bought the most.

Indeed, said Renault communications director Jeremy Townsend, “the UK is one of the biggest markets in the world for Renault Sport models so it’s fitting that the last ever third generation Megane Renault Sport should end up here.”

Renault Sport Megane 275 Cup-S

Although the final Renault Sport Megane 275 Cup-S were £23,995 bargains, the car on sale in Dundee costs a little more – because it has desirable options including:

  • Cup Chassis Pack (mechanical limited-slip differential, Brembo four-pot brake calipers, firmer springs and dampers, stiffer anti-roll bar)
  • Liquid Yellow metallic paint
  • 19-inch Speedline alloys
  • Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres
  • Öhlins Road&Track adjustable dampers
  • Alcantara steering wheel
  • Recaro seats
  • Renault Sport Monitor V2
  • R-Link multimedia and sat nav

Now Renault’s Palencia, Spain plant has built the final Renault Sport Megane 275 hot hatch, anticipation will be building for the Megane IV Renault Sport. Renault tempered expectations a little here: we’ve still a few years to wait, an insider told us: expect it in 2018…

Renault announces 66-plate offers: £1,500 off a Twingo and 0% finance

Renault announces 66-plate offers: £1,500 off a Twingo and 0% finance

Renault announces 66-plate offers: £1,500 off a Twingo and 0% finance

Renault has announced a series of offers aimed at tempting those considering a 66-plate car this September – including £1,500 off the list price of a new Twingo.

That saving is available across the Twingo range – meaning you can buy an entry-level SCe 70 Expression for £7,995, or a Colour Run special edition for £8,995. With a panoramic fabric roof plus any compatible ‘Exterior Touch Pack’ and ‘Interior Style Pack’ fitted as standard, the Colour Run already slashes £800 off the list price of a Twingo Play specced with the same equipment.

Following in the footsteps of Ford and MG, if you purchase a Clio, Captur, Kadjar or Megane through the company’s three-year Selections PCP package, you can save £500 following a test drive. This offer is on top of all existing offers, and runs from 22 August to 26 September – provided the car is registered by the end of September.

Renault announces 66-plate offers: £1,500 off a Twingo and 0% finance

In addition to that £500, Renault is also offering a £2,000 deposit contribution to Clio models. This means you can buy a Clio Play 1.2 for £159 a month over three years following a reasonable £947 deposit.

If you’re ready to switch to an electric car, the quirky Renault Zoe is available on a two-year Selections PCP deal for £189 a month, following a deposit of £1,499. Crucially, this includes the cost of leasing the battery – something that usually starts at £45 per month. You’ll also get a free 7kW wall-box for home charging.

Renault is also offering a deposit contribution towards the new Renault Megane when purchased through its PCP scheme. Adding the £500 test drive offer to a £1,750 manufacturer contribution means you can drive a new Megane from £219 a month following a customer deposit of £1,330.

Visit Renault’s website to find out more about these tempting deals – and check out the MR deals section to find out which other dealers you should be visiting.