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Renault Megane Sport Tourer 2016

2016 Renault Megane Sport Tourer revealed

Renault Megane Sport Tourer 2016Renault has released first images of the new Megane Sport Tourer ahead of its 2016 Geneva Motor Show debut and its market launch later in the year.

Shown in sporty GT guise, Renault is keen to underline the links to its performance Renault Sport division – which even stretches to a world-first in the family estate sector, 4CONTROL technology.

Renault’s four-wheel steer system, 4CONTROL improves handling precision on twisting roads but also aids in-town use courtesy of rear-wheel countersteering that reduces the turning circle.

Renault Megane Sport Tourer 2016

The firm’s keeping exact boot dimensions under wraps for now, but does say the load bay is the longest in the segment. There’ll also be lots of flexible load bay arrangements such as divider kits and securing straps.

Visually, it’s another good-looking new Megane, particularly in sports-focused GT trim. Rear arches are voluminous and the wide tail lamps distinctive. The wraparound rear screen styling cue is smart too: it’s amazing what a difference some gloss black panels can make to the appearance of a car.

We’ll see more of the new Megane Sport Tourer at the Geneva Motor Show on press day which opens on Tuesday 1 March.

PSA Peugeot Citroen

Peugeot Citroen: our cars are officially 'clean' and cheat-free

PSA Peugeot CitroenPeugeot and Citroen cars tested by a French lab under the watch of the government have been given a clean bill of health and officially verified as compliant with pollutant emissions legislation.

The news from PSA comes as three Renault sites were reportedly raided by the French government investigating so-called ‘defeat devices’.

PSA adds that none of its sites have been searched.


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That’s not the only good news for PSA from the tests either: “These initial results also confirm the effectiveness of the BlueHDi after-treatment system, which includes selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology positioned upstream of the particulate filter, to treat the nitrogen oxides (NOx) released by diesel engines,” said the firm in a statement.

“This technology has been deployed on all of the Group’s Euro6 vehicles since late 2013.”

PSA Peugeot Citroen

Peugeot Citroen: our cars are officially ‘clean’ and cheat-free

PSA Peugeot CitroenPeugeot and Citroen cars tested by a French lab under the watch of the government have been given a clean bill of health and officially verified as compliant with pollutant emissions legislation.

The news from PSA comes as three Renault sites were reportedly raided by the French government investigating so-called ‘defeat devices’.

PSA adds that none of its sites have been searched.


Read more:


That’s not the only good news for PSA from the tests either: “These initial results also confirm the effectiveness of the BlueHDi after-treatment system, which includes selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology positioned upstream of the particulate filter, to treat the nitrogen oxides (NOx) released by diesel engines,” said the firm in a statement.

“This technology has been deployed on all of the Group’s Euro6 vehicles since late 2013.”

Renault logo

Renault raided by French police

Renault logoFrench fraud police have reportedly raided several Renault factories in what is believed to be an investigation into vehicle emissions and so-called ‘defeat devices’.

Renault is fully cooperating with the police and adds it does not use devices in its vehicles that cheat emissions tests; the French Agency for Energy and Climate has, says the carmaker, already stated it does not expect to find a defeat device on Renault vehicles.

The firm has since added that the three on-site investigations were to “definitively confirm the first findings resulting from the analysis of the independent technical commission”.


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French union CGT Renault first revealed news of the raids which were carried out last week; it says investigations were focused on vehicle electronic control units (ECUs).

“There were searches at several Renault sites by fraud investigators,” CGT union official Florent Grimaldi told Reuters.

“Management has not confirmed that it is about NOx emissions, but given the sectors that were inspected we think that it could be linked.”

The union was alerted to the raids after reports from shop floor members at Renault. There are reports that management computers have also been seized by police.

Renault shares plummet

Early trading saw Renault shares plunge almost 20% as news of the raids emerged; this wiped €5 billion off the market value of the company.

Joshua Raymond CFD and FX broker at online trading firm XTB.com explained more: “Shares in Renault collapsed 19% today after a report from Agence France-Presse said that some of its computers had been seized by French police, a move being linked to a possible new emissions scandal.

“The reaction in its share price is one of shareholder panic, pure and simple. That’s why its share price fell 19% within just 60 minutes of trading in the mid-morning session.”

Investors, he said, are downsizing their positions to mitigate the risks should rumours be proven correct.

Who’s next?

And if Renault is guilty of emissions manipulation? “The news could be simply awful for the car maker” said Raymond, “especially having seen its own share price recover strongly in the past four months and of course would spell a new phase of contagion in the growing emissions scandal.

“Shareholders of all carmarkers would inevitably be asking themselves, who’s next?”

Renault F1

Renault buys Lotus F1 Team

Renault F1Renault has given loyal Formula 1 workers in Enstone, Oxfordshire the best possible Christmas present by confirming it has completed the purchase of the Lotus F1 Team.

After signing a letter of intent to buy the team in September, a lengthy period of negotiations ensued.

BBC Formula 1 free TV contract switches to Channel 4 for 2016

This was completed on 3 December; since then, says Renault,  “all parties involved have been working relentlessly to comply with all of the contractual and legal obligations under the agreements to enable the transaction to successfully complete”.

Last Friday, the transaction was indeed successfully completed – and the team is confident its 2016 racer will be ready for testing in Barcelona at the end of February.

Just prior to this first testing session, Renault F1 will announce its new team name, management structure, team partners and other key details during an event it plans to hold in Paris.

Renault’s already appointed a new board of directors though: Jérôme Stoll as Chairman and Cyril Abiteboul as Managing Director.

The news means the Enstone team will once again be known as Renault – after the French brand sold its F1 team to Genii Capital in 2009 and headline sponsor Group Lotus renamed the team in 2012.

Genii remains a shareholder in the team; Group Lotus terminated its title sponsorship arrangement in 2011 but the team retained the Lotus F1 Team name.

Renault Megane

Renault Megane review: 2016 first drive

Six months before it goes on sale, we’re among the first to drive the 2016 Renault MeganeRenault Megane

Overview

A decade ago, the second-generation Megane was ‘shaking that ass’ while shaking up the sales charts. Since then, Renault’s mid-sized hatchback has gone from one of Europe’s best-selling cars to an also-ran, dogged by bland styling, a low-rent interior and a poor reputation for reliability.

The fourth-generation Megane you see here won’t actually reach UK showrooms until June 2016, but we bagged an early drive at the international launch in Portugal. One thing is for certain: it may not have a bustle-shaped boot, but Renault has ditched the dull design. Has the Megane finally got its groove back?

If the new Megane looks striking in photos, it’s even more so in the metal. Longer, wider and lower than the car it replaces, it looks sleek and sporty – even in standard non-GT spec. Huge front and rear lights – both with distinctive LED ‘signatures’ – add a pleasingly premium touch, too.

Renault will longer sell three-door ‘Coupe’ or CC cabriolet versions of the Megane, citing insufficient demand (apparently many buyers have migrated to crossovers). So the range is five-door-hatchback-only at launch, with an estate version following in the autumn.

Inside, the Megane’s big selling point is a huge, portrait-oriented touchscreen. It’s not quite a budget Tesla, but you get the idea. ‘Virtual’ TFT instuments can be configured to the driver’s personal taste, while available safety equipment includes adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and self-parking. The Megane has already scored a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests.

Engines for the UK are yet to be confirmed. However, the petrol line-up is likely to start with the 100hp 1.2 TCe, then 115hp 1.2 SCe (non-turbocharged), 130hp 1.2 TCe and a 205hp 1.6 TCe – the latter in the range-topping GT. Diesels will probably kick off with the 90hp 1.5 dCi, then 110hp 1.5 dCi, 130hp 1.6 dCi and 165hp 1.6 dCi.

Most Meganes will come with a six-speed manual gearbox (five speeds on the 115hp petrol). Renault’s semi-automatic ‘flappy paddle’ EDC ’box is offered on the 130hp petrol and 110hp diesel – and standard with the most powerful engines of each fuel-type.

Frustratingly, Renault won’t confirm prices until closer to the car’s on-sale date either. However, we expect the car to be closely competitive with the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Astra, which means a start-price of around £15,500.

Renault Megane

On the road

We start our test-drives in the Renaultsport GT,  the flagship ‘warm hatch’ until the hot Megane RS arrives – probably in 2017.

This is the first time Renaultsport has lent its well-respected name to anything other than a full-fat hot hatch and there is a strong risk of diluting the brand. To help avert that risk, the GT has specially tuned suspension and – uniquely in this class – rear-wheel steering.

This ‘4Control’ system turns the rear wheels slightly in the opposite direction to the fronts to sharpen up the handling. Its effect is immediately noticeable on the road; in tight bends, the GT almost seems to pivot around its axis, catapulting you out of corners with impressive ease.

Unfortunately, the rest of the GT package is less well-rounded. Its ride is jittery over the sort of broken bitumen that swathes most British B-roads, the EDC gearbox is clunky on downshifts and its steering feels twitchy – especially in Sport mode. Despite its twin exhausts, the 205hp 1.6 turbo petrol engine sounds muted and rather characterless, too.

Thankfully, things improve on day two with the Megane 1.6 dCi. With smaller 17in wheels – the GT wore optional 18-inchers – and softer suspension, this car feels far more comfortable in its own skin. Ride quality is much improved, and the torquier 130hp diesel engine means it doesn’t feel much slower on the road (0-62mph takes 10.0 seconds, versus 7.1 seconds for the GT).

Indeed, the Megane diesel seems to have most bases covered. It’s a refined and comfortable cruiser with enough dynamic talent for when the Tarmac gets twisty. A Ford Focus is ultimately more fun, but the latest Megane runs it fairly close.

Renault Megane

On the inside

The Megane’s dashboard is dominated by a central tablet-style touchscreen. This measures seven inches across and is landscape-oriented on entry-level models; higher-spec cars get the 8.7-inch portrait-style screen seen here.

Renault says this is the ‘largest touchscreen in the non-premium class’, but is bigger necessarily better? We’re not sure. There’s no doubt the R-Link 2 system is easy to use, with bold graphics and intuitive menus. But the screen’s depth means frequently taking your eyes off the road – and there’s no supplementary joystick-style controller, such as that offered by Mazda. At least the optional colour head-up display helps avoid such distractions.

There are still a few cheap plastics in the Megane’s cabin, but it’s a vast improvement over the outgoing car. We’d put it on par with a Ford Focus for perceived quality. Particular attention has been paid to the bits you touch – steering wheel, gear lever, door pulls –which all feel pleasantly premium.

A special mention must also go to the Megane’s seats, which are the same as found in the larger Espace and Talisman models (neither of which is sold in the UK). They’re supportive and very comfortable, while the Alcantara (artificial suede) trim on GT models looks great.

Low-slung styling hasn’t unduly compromised space in the back; the car can still accommodate five adults in relative comfort. And the 434-litre boot is one of the largest in class. For comparison, a VW Golf holds 380 litres.

Renault Megane

Running costs

As noted previously, we don’t have list prices for the Megane yet. However, the car is likely to be a couple of thousand pounds cheaper than an equivalent VW Golf, for example. And if past form is anything to go by, Renault dealers won’t be averse to offering a discount. That said, if you plan to buy on finance, likely stronger residual values for the Golf could narrow the gap when it comes to monthly payments.

What about reliability? Well, early Meganes were pretty dismal in this regard, but Renault insists this has been one of the priorities for the new car. Its four-year/100,000-mile warranty is also better than the three-year/60,000-mile deal of many rivals.

In terms of fuel economy, the undisputed champ is the 110hp 1.5 diesel in Eco2 guise, which returns 85.6mpg and tax-dodging CO2 emissions of just 86g/km. The standard 110hp diesel achieves 76.3mpg and 95g/km, while the 130hp 1.6 diesel we drove manages 70.6mpg and 103g/km.

The petrol engines are also efficient, if not class-leading. Figures for the 100hp 1.2 Tce are 52.3mpg and 120g/km, and the GT returns 47.0mpg with 134g/km.

It’s worth remembering that, while most Megane buyers will opt for diesel, the upfront price premium (likely to be around £1,000) means lower-mileage drivers could save money by choosing a petrol engine.

Renault Megane

Verdict

The Megane has got its mojo back. It no longer has an ‘ass’ to shake, but it has shaken off the shackles of blandness to become one the most distinctive – and arguably most stylish – hatchbacks on sale. And yes, we know styling is only superficial, but those swoopy lights and curvaceous creases help set the Megane apart in this closely-fought class.

We’re less convinced by the Megane’s large touchscreen media system, but we suspect it will wow plenty of buyers in the showroom. If you’re the kind of person who always has the latest smartphone, the Megane could be for you.

We think the petrol GT model is a bit of an odd compromise. Like an office clerk shoehorned into a pair of trainers, it’s nimble but lacking in outright performance. The 130hp 1.6 diesel is a better and cheaper, covering all bases as any medium hatchback is required to do.

Renault hasn’t trumped the Golf or the newly-upmarket Peugeot 308 for desirability. Nor is it likely to match Kia Cee’d for value, or the Honda Civic for reliability. However, the Megane is a capable contender that, depending on prices when it reaches the UK in June, could be worth adding to your shortlist.

Renault Megane 1.6 dCi 130

Price: TBC (nearer to June 2016)

Engine: 1.6-litre diesel

Gearbox: 6-speed manual

Power: 130hp

Torque: 236lb ft 

0-62mph: 10.0 seconds

Top speed: N/A

Fuel economy: 70.6mpg

CO2 emissions: 103g/km

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Two-Minute Road Test

Harder, faster, stronger – but is Renault’s new Clio Trophy better?

Renaultsport Clio 220 TrophyRenaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: What is it?

Stung by criticism of the standard Clio 200 hot hatch, Renault has responded with the Clio 220 Trophy. As its name suggests, it boasts an extra 20hp, plus 40% stiffer suspension, sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres and a quicker-shifting semi-automatic gearbox. Can the Trophy restore Renaultsport’s reputation?

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: What are its rivals?

The Ford Fiesta ST looms large over this sector, but the Clio also faces strong competition from the MINI Cooper, Peugeot 208 GTI and Volkswagen Polo GTI. The MINI is characterful but expensive, the 208 is at its best in pricey Peugeot Sport spec and the Polo is perhaps a tad civilised for its own good. And the Fiesta? It’s a modern classic.

03_renaultsport_clioRenaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Which engines does it use?

The Clio packs a 220hp 1.6-litre turbocharged engine mated – controversially – to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. There’s no manual option. Use the launch control and it sprints to 62mph in 6.6 seconds, with a top speed of 146mph.

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: What’s it like to drive?

A big  improvement on the standard Clio 200. In fact, on the right road, the Trophy comes close to brilliance. It turns in eagerly, and there’s no shortage of grip from the track-biased tyres (well, on dry roads at least). The EDC ’box blats through the gears and you can press and hold the paddle for multiple downshifts at once – Ferrari F12-style. However, when you’re not ‘on it’ in R.S. mode, the Clio feels decidedly ordinary. Its jittery ride that could prove wearing on longer journeys, too.

07_renaultsport_clioRenaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Fuel economy and running costs

Stay away from launch control, R.S. mode and all the other things that make this Clio fun and you could manage a respectable 47.9mpg. CO2 emissions of 135g/km mean annual car tax (VED) of £130 at 2015 rates.

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Is it practical?

The current Clio is only available with five doors, and its 300-litre boot is one of the biggest in the class. It’s still on the small side for a family car, though – and we wonder how well its flimsy interior would stand up to repeated school runs. On the plus side, Renault offers a generous four-year/100,000-mile warranty on all new cars.

04_renaultsport_clioRenaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: What about safety?

Safety is one of Renault’s strengths, and the Clio in no exception. It gained a five-star rating in Euro NCAP crash tests and scored an impressive 88% for adult occupant safety, plus 89% for child safety.

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Which version should I go for?

If your heart is set on a Renaultsport Clio, the Trophy is the one to go for. It costs a hefty £2,650 more than the regular 200, but feels markedly more focused and fun to drive. Just be wary of pricey extras, such as the matte white paint of our test car (£1,300).

09_renaultsport_clioRenaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Should I buy one?

You know what we’re going to say, don’t you? The Clio 220 Trophy is good, but it isn’t ‘Fiesta ST good’. While the Renault only really comes alive at ‘maximum attack’, the Ford simply feels special all of the time – whether you’re pottering or pushing it. The fact that the Fiesta costs up to £4,000 less than the Clio seals the deal. Even in top ST-3 spec, the Fiesta is still £2,000 cheaper.

Renaultsport Clio 220 Trophy: Pub fact

Renaultsport’s factory in Dieppe will soon become the venue for the rebirth of Alpine – a long-defunct French sports car manufacturer that used Renault engines. The forthcoming Alpine sports car may share its platform with the Nissan GT-R.

 

Lotus F1

Renault signs Letter of Intent to buy Lotus F1 Team

Lotus F1Renault Group has signed a letter of intent with the owner of the Lotus F1 Team to buy a controlling stake in the Grand Prix constructor.

The French carmaker has reached a deal with Gravity Motorsports S.a.r.l, which is an affiliate of Genii Capital S.A.: this is the company that has been running the Lotus F1 team for the past few years.

Renault says it and Gravity “will work together in the coming weeks to eventually turn this initial undertaking into a definitive transaction provided all terms and conditions are met between them and other interested parties.”

It will mark Renault’s 2016 return as a full F1 constructor – and also extend its involvement in F1 to 38 years. This latter point may be significant: Renault is hoping to get enhanced income from F1 bosses through gaining ‘historic team’ status.

The Lotus F1 cars are currently powered by Mercedes-Benz engines: Renault’s takeover of the team will likely see this engine supply move to the British startup Manor F1 team.

2016 Renault Megane revealed ahead of Frankfurt debut

2016 Renault Megane revealed ahead of Frankfurt debut

2016 Renault Megane revealed ahead of Frankfurt debut

Renault has released these official pictures of the new Megane hatchback ahead of its public debut at next week’s Frankfurt Motor Show.

The Ford Focus rival shows design traits from other models in Renault’s range – such as the Talisman, which is also set to make its first public appearance at Frankfurt.

Unlike the Talisman, however, the Megane will be sold in the UK – with sales set to begin early next year.

In a move similar to Peugeot with its 308, the new Megane looks to be heading upmarket in a bid to take on the Volkswagen Golf.

Renault is yet to reveal any official pictures of the new Megane’s interior, but leaked pictures suggest it’ll feature a large touchscreen, similar to that of the latest Espace.

2016 Renault Megane revealed ahead of Frankfurt debut

From launch, a premium Megane GT will be available with a sportier appearance from its new front bumper design, along with a broader air intake and a new honeycomb grille.

To the rear, two chromed exhaust pipes hint at its sportiness, along with ‘Renaultsport’ badging.

Renault is yet to confirm the engine range for the new Megane, with a number of new units thought to be on the agenda.

It’s also remaining tight-lipped about a hot RS version to take on the likes of the Ford Focus ST and Honda Civic Type-R, but we expect to hear more in the near future.

To find out more about the new Renault Megane and other important unveilings at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, keep an eye on Motoring Research, where we’ll be reporting live from 15 September.

Renault Alaskan concept previews new pick-up truck

Renault Alaskan concept previews new pick-up truck

Renault Alaskan concept previews new pick-up truck

Renault has revealed a new concept vehicle previewing a pick-up truck set to be unveiled early next year.

The Renault Alaskan concept features a one-tonne payload and aggressive looks – enhanced by chunky 21-inch wheels and a purposeful stance.

Renault’s senior vice-president, corporate design, Laurens van den Acker, said: “The styling of the Alaskan Concept sticks to the rules of the pick-up segment, including impressive dimensions and a visual sense of power and robustness. At the same time, we have dialed in specific Renault cues in the form of an attractive, status-enhancing front-end design.”

The Alaskan is powered by Renault’s twin-turbocharged, four-cylinder diesel engine used in the Master van range.

The manufacturer says the Alaskan draws on its experience with crossovers such as the Captur to combine practicality for business users with demands from private buyers.

It hopes to cement Renault’s success in the commercial vehicle market across Europe – with a platform that will be shared with Nissan and Mercedes-Benz.

Nissan’s version of the pick-up truck, the NV300 Navara, is set to debut at the Frankfurt motor show later this month.