Mark Higgins’s first drive 2014 Renault Megane Authentique review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.
In a nutshell Well priced, well equipped, with low running costs, the Renault Megane Authentique should be on the shopping list of small car buyers.
Practical Motoring Says The Megane Authentique might be the entry-level model but we reckon, short of the GT220, that it’s the pick of the bunch. It’s priced very keenly, gets a good amount of kit and is fun to drive.
WITH EIGHTEEN BRANDS to choose from, competition and variety in the small car segment has never been fiercer and while the name Renault may not immediately spring to mind, the 2014 Megane Authentique is well worth a look.
From the outside its hard to pick the Authentique as the entry model with its five-spoke, sixteen-inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights within the fog lights, large chrome Renault badges front and rear, curvy headlights, a discreet front spoiler and roof mounted aerial.
The black interior is contrasted with chrome touches on the gearknob and around the shift lever. Silver garnish surrounds the three-circular HVAC controls, audio system and instrumentation. Sitting behind the reach and tilt, leather-wrapped steering wheel with cruise control functions, the Authentique sports a large digital speedometer, with circular bar graph fuel and temperature gauges. To it’s left is an analogue tacho and to the right is the trip computer with cruise control & speed limiter lights. There’s another small screen in the centre of the dash that displays time, outside temperature, radio, phone and Bluetooth and streamed music information, plus front and rear seatbelt warnings. The power windows and mirrors are operated from the armrest on the driver’s door.
The console houses two cup holders, the ignition start-stop button, key-card holder, a 12-volt socket, a conventional handbrake lever and a small storage space. Additional storage is available in the four door pockets.
The front cloth seats (driver’s with height adjustment) were soft and reasonably comfortable, but lacked lateral support, while the 60/40-split rear seat was quite upright. Leg and shoulder room were acceptable, but the interior packaging of the Megane is a let down with little rear legroom.
Overall, the interior had a look and feel well above its base model stature, with nice touches like vanity mirrors in both sunvisors. The surfaces were durable but soft to touch and the controls tactile. Even with the narrowing window line and largish rear pillars, visibility was quite good, with no obvious blind spots. The 372-litre storage area has a flat floor, with a temporary spare hidden beneath it.
Under the bonnet is a 1.2-litre direct-injection, turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 97kW (at 5500rpm) and 205Nm (at 2000rpm). This is mated to a six-speed manual and returns 5.6L/100km (it’s happy to drink 95RON). The engine is zippy and free-revving and with peak torque arriving just off idle progress was easy with little need to push the thing when overtaking or driving up hills. The six-speed manual transmission is a sweet little unit with a nice, direct throw, and while the clutch is light it was progressive in its action and matched the weighting of the throttle pedal.
The Authentique was a zippy commuter around town that handled the cut and thrust of rush hour with ease and it was equally at home on highways and freeways. Road noise, even on coarse bitumen was muted. The relatively soft suspension accounted for bumps, dips and potholes with ease, yet it remained more than capable through corners with good body control and no tyre squeal from the Goodyear ‘Efficient Grip’ 205/55/16 tyres. The electric variable power steering was light when parking, which became heavier as speed increased.
Renault is playing its value card strongly and the Authentique is no loss leader bereft of equipment. For $20,990 (+ORC) you get air conditioning, electric door mirrors, daytime running lights within the fog lights, an AM/FM stereo with single CD/MP3 player, Auxiliary input, USB port, 16-inch alloy wheels, cruise control with speed limiter, leather bound steering wheel, manual key card, height adjustable driver seat, fog lights and hill start assist all standard. Renault has also delivered on low running costs with just an annual service required at a capped price of $299 for the first three years. Added to that is a five-year warranty and five years roadside assist.
The Megane Authentique has six airbags (Dual front, side and front/rear curtain airbag), ABS and Electronic Stability Control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Emergency Brake Assist and under steer control.