A photo for Sunday: 1995-2002 Renault Megane

As the new Megane bows in, it’s time to take a look back at how things were done in 1995 when the first of the line began prowling the highways.

1995 Renault Megane estate in moody black and white.
1995 Renault Megane estate in moody black and white. Yukky wheels.

Aged well, hasn’t it? It’s very much a 1990’s car and at the same time wears its period style lightly. The modellers did a good job putting nuances on the metal around the middle bump strips and notice the subtle way the sill is curved upwards, with little flares at either end.

The engines range is delightfully straightfoward: 1.4, 1.6 and 2.0 litre petrols and a 1.9 diesel. You really know where you stand with that lot. The interior is also very well done too and while it does not toe the line in terms of outright sobriety, it manages to look utterly well-composed and, in my view, still pretty damn good.

The Astra, Focus and 306 estates ran this car close; you’d almost say it was a golden age of medium-sized estates if people really cared about medium-sized estates. If there is a category less sexy than medium-sized mainstream saloons its medium-sized mainstream estates. Nobody but nobody fancies these cars or thinks about them with their clothes off…

Nobody imagines them in charmingly fecund rural settings conveying people to remote rail-stations or to unspoiled picnic locations. These are working cars. These are the equivalent of the invisible cleaning lady. They are destined for a 12 year life or 192,000 miles, whichever comes first and then it’s down to the knacker’s yard for a quick death in the crusher. In the case of a pretty car like this, that’s a real underestimation of the design’s clever detailing and the usefulness of the package. And they are comfortable too. Does anyone need any more car than this?

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

6 thoughts on “A photo for Sunday: 1995-2002 Renault Megane”

  1. My friend bought a brand new Megane in 1997. Even in asthmatic 1.6 automatic guise, it was leagues ahead of rivals in terms of styling and perceived quality. In comparison, the contemporary Escort was low rent, the mark 3 Golf austere and the 306 somewhat basic inside. My personal favourite was the coupé, a handsome variant that was the first three door hatchback I could remember that was not touted as a base model.

  2. The mark 3 Astra wasn’t that bad inside and out, although it was coming towards replacement and the chassis wasn’t that great. Engines weren’t bad though.

    1. The engines were indeed coarse. By accident or design they also had quite a rorty exhaust note, pre catalysts anyway, and served up their torque early, making them quite handy in the traffic light Grand Prix. Compared to the cammy-sounding rattly 8-valvers in Fords, they were streets ahead.

  3. I don’t know about Europe but there is a bit of a cult following around small ‘wagons’ like the Megane amongst the car-enthused youths in NZ. 1980s-90s Mazda 323s and the Mitsubishi Libero (lancer estate) in particular are popular candidates for spending their retirement years wearing the wheels, tyres, ride height and exhaust pipe of a high performance machine. This is quite apart from the cult of turbocharged Subaru Legacy estates.

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