By the time 2012 draws to a close, Renault will have launched a full line-up of electric vehicles in the UK, comprising a van, saloon, hatchback, and whatever it is that the Twizy is.
While Renault’s electric range is expanding, its conventional car roster is doing the opposite. The company has ceased to offer some of its niche vehicles in the UK, including the Espace people carrier, the Modus mini-MPV, and the Wind roadster that barely seemed to have arrived before it was gone. The French company evidently feels the need to focus in the very tough market for non-premium motors.
The Renaults that remain are being refreshed for 2012, and the one that caught my eye was the revised Megane, which can now be had in a 110bhp diesel version with a CO2 emissions rating of just 90g/km. That really is a deeply impressive pair of numbers for a mid-sized hatchback, which of course will evade showroom tax, road tax and the London congestion charge.
The engine delivering these results, together with combined cycle economy of 80.7mpg, is a 1.5-litre dCi. It’s a thoroughly revised version of the engine that propelled the outgoing Megane Eco2 edition, which managed only 106g/km, but the addition of stop-start plus other improvements has clearly made a big difference.
Renault’s new Stop & Start feature has also been added to the two other options for the Megane’s engine bay, a 130bhp 1.6-litre dCi diesel and a 115bhp 1.2-litre TCe petrol. The bigger diesel is rated at 104g/km and the petrol plugger at 119g/km.
The TCe petrol engine is Renault’s latest downsized, high-tech offering, featuring direct injection and turbocharging. It offers more power, more torque, and 25 per cent better fuel economy than the old 1.6-litre unit now headed for retirement.
Renault will clearly be hoping that these more economical engines, together with a new nose and other styling tweaks, will transform the fortunes of its often overlooked hatchback. We shall see when the facelifted Megane goes on sale in April.