By EWAN KENNEDY
C. 2010 Renault Megane Sport 250
Midway through 2010 a new Renault Australia management team was established and set about getting serious. It began by launching several new models, including, in November, the stylish Fluence four-door sedan, Megane five-door hatch, five-door wagon and even a coupe-cabriolet for a while.
Small to medium cars, they offer buyers the chance to buy a stylish French machine rather than simply a sensible but not particularly exciting one from Asia.
Sales have increased significantly in the meantime and the introduction of an all-new Megane in October 2016 has resulted in a further sales push, one that may mean quite a few of the older models being traded in. Perhaps even resulting in an over supply at Renault dealers, meaning they have to sell them quickly to trim overstocking. No promises, though.
Renault Fluence sedan shares it’s underpinnings with the Megane hatch, but is longer and has a larger boot. Megane leans in the direction of sportiness, with some hot models that will be described in a moment. Fluence leans in the direction of comfort and wafts along making light of lumps and bumps, even on the harshest of Aussie roads.
The suspension and steering in the Megane hatch have a semi sporty dynamic setup that’s altogether different in its nature to the somewhat mature Fluence sedan. The Megane’s seats hold you in place nicely but some may find them a little too tight and firm.
The interior styling is neat and sharp with plenty of nicely rounded curves in a very Gallic manner. Interior space is good in the front, but rear legroom should be better as these are quite large cars.
These French machines are powered by a variety of engines; naturally aspirated petrols, turbo-petrols and turbo-diesels. Performance is good without being anything special.
Which is where and the high-performance Megane Sport RS 250 and 265 come into play. Full-on high-performance variants aimed at the serious driver they have sparking engine and huge amounts of road grip.
Renault’s significant expansion in Australia has been accompanied not only by a more dealers being appointed, but also on reasonably priced servicing and spare parts.
We’ve heard of no real complaints about availability as Renault works with Nissan on parts warehousing in Australia.
Insurance costs cover a wider spread than normal, perhaps because companies aren’t all keeping in touch with much larger sales numbers for Renault cars in recent years. It pays to shop around, as always make sure you’re doing accurate comparisons.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Generally solid and reliable but it’s smart to have a Megane checked out by a professional, preferably an expert on the marque.
Do your own initial inspection by all means. The left-front wheel is always a good place to start as it’s the one to get crunched by careless parking.
Do a full walk around to look for obvious defects such as damage panels or the other three wheels.
Run your hand across the face of the tyres. It they feel smoother in one direction than the other something is out of alignment and needs specialised checking.
The interior should be almost as good as new in relatively recent cars such as these. The back seat is often the one to suffer first if kids have chucked tantrums back there.
Once you get serious it’s smart to arrange a test drive early in the morning so you can test the mechanicals stone cold. The engine should start within a second or so and steady into a steady idle immediately.
Gearchanges should be almost impossible to feel unless you accelerate hard.
CAR BUYING TIP
Poor quality crash repairs can ruin a car for life. If in doubt, get a professional to comment on the car or resale values may plummet.