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THE AUTOMOTIVE COLUMN

Renault Mégane has enough space but lacks power burst

The lower-middle class Renault Mégane has been selling well on the Slovak market. According to statistics released by ZAP, the Slovak Automotive Industry Association, 2,472 Méganes found new homes in Slovak garages in 1996, making it the second best selling model in its class, behind the Daewoo Nexia. Sales in Slovakia of this issue's test drive car, the Mégane Classic 1.4 liter, began in March 1997.
According to Eva Štefucová of Renault Bratislava, the Mégane's target market is young families and business people, and the car is especially suitable as a company car for middle-level management.
For a medium-sized car, the Mégane is comfortable. There's plenty of room for long-legged drivers, and the front seat passenger has ample knee room as well. The front seats, although standard fare and lacking any style, provide decent support, and back seat passengers are given satisfactory leg-room.



The lower-middle class Renault Mégane has been selling well on the Slovak market. According to statistics released by ZAP, the Slovak Automotive Industry Association, 2,472 Méganes found new homes in Slovak garages in 1996, making it the second best selling model in its class, behind the Daewoo Nexia. Sales in Slovakia of this issue's test drive car, the Mégane Classic 1.4 liter, began in March 1997.

According to Eva Štefucová of Renault Bratislava, the Mégane's target market is young families and business people, and the car is especially suitable as a company car for middle-level management.

For a medium-sized car, the Mégane is comfortable. There's plenty of room for long-legged drivers, and the front seat passenger has ample knee room as well. The front seats, although standard fare and lacking any style, provide decent support, and back seat passengers are given satisfactory leg-room.

Head room is excellent in the Mégane, with enough space for even the largest domes. The car also has a large trunk with enough space to willingly accept unwieldy boxes and luggage. And although there is plenty of room inside, the Mégane is easy to maneuver in tight spaces, making parking on crowed streets a cinch.

The test drive car's 1.4 liter engine doesn't provide enough power to cope with the demanding local driving conditions, though. Gear shifting is smooth, but acceleration is sluggish, especially on even the slightest inclines. Although you'd think from the engine whine that you're just breaking a land speed record, you won't be taking home any medals in the sprint events. No doubt, the 2.0 liter Mégane would be more satisfying in the power category.

Although the steering is a bit swimmy, the Mégane handles well on the highway. Wind noise in the cabin is low even at high speeds, and the design of the car's windows provides excellent all-around visibility. "It's comfortable," said Ľudmila Šókyová, director of the travel agency Fischer Slovakia. "There's very good visibility. The driving is smooth."

The interior styling of the Mégane could use a burst of creativity. The plastic used on the dashboard and doors is lackluster, and the door and seat fabric is uninspiring. The instrument and control panels, although simple and easy to find your way around on, are dated and look like the stylists were snoozing for the last 20 years.

The Mégane's exterior styling is clean and simple. The front design is smart and exudes a certain sophisticated feline energy, but the rear of the car cheapens the effect with its humdrum lights and bluntness.

Jeffrey Jones is editor-in-chief of the Central Europe Automotive Report.


Information Box

Total Displacement: 1,390 cm3
Maximum Speed: 170 km/hour
Acceleration 0-100 km/h: 14.3 seconds
Length: 4,400 mm
Body width: 1,699 mm
Trunk space: 510 liters
Engine:1.4 liter RL, 55kw
urban cycle: 10.3 liters/100 km
Price: 426,000 Sk (tax incl.)
highway:5.8 liters/100 km
combination:7.4 liters/100 km

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