In October 1995, Renault started production of the new Mégane. It followed the successful R19 line and over time became available, for example, as a sedan (Classic), as a Cabriolet, as a Scenic and (later, from 1999) as a Break/GrandTour. However, the Mégane debuted as a hatchback and as a coupé. And with the latter reason we: a very nice 1.6 16V Sport from the first facelift series. This received, among other things, a changed front and a different interior equipment.
Owner Marco van Rangelrooij approached us and wondered whether this car "wasn't actually a bit too young" for a report or a report in Auto Motor Klassiek. An understandable question, because the coupé is still quite fresh in the collective memory. And yet: how often do you come across a Renault Mégane Coupé? Not so often anymore and certainly not in the condition in which Marco's car was delivered new in the Netherlands in 2000. Because many a coupe (often in yellow or in red) was driven to the eternal hunting grounds by enthusiastic novice motorists. Fortunately, that is not the case with Marco's car. Except for a few small points, the Renault is still like new, and the odometer reading is almost virgin with 55.000 kilometers. So here we have a fairly unique example in beautiful and distinguished light grey.
Coupe of its time
This is a coupé of its time, and that's how it drives. Anyone who expects a punishment with suspension and ditto damped chassis will be disappointed with this Renault. The chassis of this Mégane works resolutely, without losing the connection with the comfortable tuning. This image is enhanced by the comfortable seat. The control communicates excellently, the transmission works nicely. And that also applies to the excellent braking system with ABS, ventilated discs at the front and drums at the rear. The case feels fine and confidence-inspiring on board. This is also reflected in the equipment, but a USB port and air conditioning are missing. Wasn't common in 2000 either. This version did get very nice light metal, white dials, cool fog lights and sportier seats. In addition, the standard audio installation gives a nice sound, and the electrically adjustable rear windows are special gadgets. The mirrors and door windows can also be operated electrically. The leather-wrapped steering wheel carries an airbag. In addition, there are side airbags and an airbag is also available in the dashboard for the co-driver.
2 + 2 with practical ease of use
This Renault is a 2 + 2 that offers sufficient practical space, especially for two people, to take the necessary with you. The options in the rear are variable, because the split rear seats are foldable. When the furniture in the back is in the natural position, the space in the back is only sufficient for two smaller people. Tall people are also comfortable in the front, although the distance between the head and the roof does not remain. This is very easy to solve by adjusting the seats a little differently. That makes little difference to the seating position. It says a lot about the quality and support that the excellent sports seats (including lumbar support and height adjustment) provide in this Renault.
Stable and comfortable handling
Back to the driving characteristics and the performance characteristics. This coupé drives - in contrast to the much firmer suspension Mégane coupé of two generations later - very fine and mature. The car is stable on the road, and the aforementioned damping and suspension behavior is smooth and confidence-inspiring. You continuously feel a beautifully framed comfort that makes this Renault an extremely nice car to be on the road with. The engine characteristics also deserve praise. Despite the sixteen valve technology and the absence of a turbo, the engine picks up its torque pleasantly early. This is spread over a fairly wide range. That is substantially different with a number of other atmospheric four-cylinder engines with sixteen-valve technology, then you are regularly confronted with little pulling power at the bottom.
Nice couple, available over a wide range
The 1.6 16V is good for 110 DIN hp in this Sport version. The peak torque of this K4M engine is 148 Nm and is at 3.750 rpm. But even before 1.500 rpm, a torque of 100 Nm is already available. The power source picks up early and shows a lot of pulling power and flexibility in all resistance. In addition, the gears of the five-speed gearbox show a beautiful overlap. The combination with the pleasantly communicative driving comfort and the fine engine makes this Frenchman a very nice and smooth touring car. You drive it whistling to the Alps and beyond, much further. And for those who want to drive unlimitedly fast: the top of the Mégane is 198 kilometers per hour. The acceleration from 0-100 kilometers per hour? You'll be there in about ten seconds. This Coupé 1.6 16V can therefore drive vigorously, but the all-round character also makes a quiet touring characteristic possible. In addition, the chance is also greater that you get the specified average consumption of 1 to 14.5.
Moreover, this Renault Mégane Coupé is more comfortable than many contemporary cars from the B and C segment. In combination with the 1.6 16V engine, this is a more than fine all-round coupé. It is excellent for daily use, performs excellently and shows a character that does away with today's penchant for dynamics and sharp steering behaviour. In combination with the idiosyncratic design and the new rarity, it is precisely this science that makes this fine Renault Mégane Coupé a white raven in young-timer country. Especially as a rare Sport, this coupé is a candidat inattendu with a lot of perspective.
Photography: © Bart Spijker