Renault Megane III

The new Renault Megane 5-door hatchback has been unveiled prior to its public debut at Paris 2008, and is one of the 6 different body styles that are set to be launched by 2010. The 5-door hatch will go on sale in November this year. What are the other five… here’s a guess: 3-door hatch, sedan, touring, MPV, coupe-convertible?

Renault’s new C-segment contender has short front and rear overhangs and a wheelbase of 2640mm, longer than the previous generation Megane hatch’s 2625mm wheelbase. The other bodystyles will likely have different wheelbase lengths as the Megane Sedan had a longer 2,686mm wheelbase, so for this generation it could stretch to beyond 2,700mm like the Civic and Lancer GT.

On the exterior you will immediately notice a more traditional hatchback shape rather than the previous Megane’s butt that stuck out oddly. The interior looks rather traditional and maybe even a little dated at first sight but there are some unique features such as the meter panel which uses a dual dial arrangement with the trip computer placed on the right, and the speedometer dial shown on an LCD featuring digital/graphics readings for speed, integrated fuel level, temperature and door opening displays. The RPM meter remains traditional and placed on the left.

MeganeThe cruise control settings puts the digital speedometer dial LCD display to good use, displaying the selected cruise speed at the top of the speedometer. The speedometer will have a ring of lights that take the form of an arc around the central display. This lights up red as the speed increases. A maximum speed can also be set this way, and the selected top speed will flash if exceeded.

A choice of either a dCi turbodiesel, normally aspirated or TCe turbocharged gasoline engine is available for the buyer of the new Renault. The dCi engines consist of the 85, 90, 105, 110 and 130 states of tune. The dCi 130 produces 130hp at 3,750rpm and 300Nm of torque at 1,750rpm which are lower peak points than the previous dCi 130 model (4,000rpm and 2,000rpm). As you can probably guess, the number indicates how much horsepower the engine produces. A dCi 160 with a manual gearbox and a dCi 150 mated to an automatic will soon be added later.

The two normally aspirated petrol engines are the 1.6 litre 16 valve 100 and 110hp engines and the 2.0 litre 16 valve 140hp engine. A CVT gearbox will be available with the 140hp engine soon. The top of the line is the TCe turbocharged 2.0 litre engine producing 180 horsepower. Something new and interesting to be added later is a new TCe 130 engine developed by the Renault-Nissan Alliance, which is a 1.4 litre turbocharged inline-4 engine that can produce 130 horsepower and 190Nm of torque. I eagerly await for this engine to get cheap enough to replace the likes of the MR18DE – it would just be perfect in the Nissan Grand Livina 1.8.

The hatchback has a maximum boot volume of 405 litres (372 with spare wheel). This boot space can be extended via the 60:40 split rear bench.

Look after the jump for more hi-res photos of the new Megane hatch.

PHOTO GALLERY: 5-door Renault Megane III
Click thumbnails to view high resolution photo