The Plush Everyman - Renault Megane Sedan 1.5 dCi Privilege vs Subaru Impreza 1.6 4Dr


7 Apr 2017
 

This is Singapore, a place where the Compact Sedan still rules. Perhaps a little less these days with the influx of SUVs, Crossover SUVs, Hatches which have become pseudo Crossover SUVs… you get the idea.

But the Compact Sedan is and has always been the staple for many here. Today, we take a look at the sure-footed Subaru Impreza 1.6 Sedan, and the Renault Megane Sedan 1.5 dCi. Both launched at the time of the 2017 Motorshow, we recently got our hands on these fine cars.

The Impreza is the first car which uses Subaru’s new Global Platform (SGP), which Subaru claims, makes the Impreza 70-100 percent stiffer than their outgoing car, something which we will get to later. Adding to this, the new platform seems to facilitate only CVT transmission mounting, signalling that all future Subarus (at least on the SGP) will be mated to a CVT. While these transmissions are known to deliver an extremely smooth drive, they are known to be initially sluggish.

Renault sprung a pleasant surprise with their new Megane. While their Fluence was quite the let-down, the Megane’s is a refreshing vehicle to look at from all angles.

The Megane benefits from its 2,711mm wheelbase, ensuring that both front and rear passengers have plenty of legroom. The Impreza on the other hand gets just 41mm less, meaning that passengers thrive in very similar comfort.

Externally, both the sedans are very attractive. The Megan does take the prize for those cool rear tail lamps, and the additional forming of sheet metal at the C pillar. Flexible plastic front fenders on the French sedan, mean that they are resistant to any knocking against by shopping carts. The ‘Scooby’ is not dog either, with subtly flared wheel arches, and equally pretty headlamps.

The Impreza’s dash features a split infotainment display, the interface is rather simple, and easy to navigate, and features mobile and media connectivity. Interior materials too, have taken a step up in quality, while it is easy to find a good driving position. Additionally, Subaru had taken great pains to ensure that the SGP platform was designed with safety in-mind. This is evident when you open the rear door, where you can find a catch for the door reinforcement beam, which is built to hold the door frame in its place in the event of a side collision, and actually reduces the effects of side impact injury.

The Megane’s interior is not too far off in terms of quality, they have opted to have their infotainment display mounted in a portrait format, but this thing is a rather large 8.7” unit, which is very customisable. Adding to interior spoils, the Megane also provides a number of choices for interior mood lighting. While we did like the comfort that the seats provided, the fabric inserts might prove to be an issue in the long run, as they would likely disintegrate over time.

The additional space in the Megane shows up as well in the boot, with 550 litres to use, versus the 460 litres provided by the Impreza. As a consolation, the Impreza’s rear split 60:40 folding seats do fold flat, while the Megane leaves you with a bit of a kerb, formed by the base of the seats to deal with.

While both cars serve the same market segment, they come from different schools of thought. The Megane uses a 1.5 turbocharged diesel, which in Europe, diesel engines are commonplace, benefitting from excellent range and plenty of torque. The small diesel churns out a whopping 250Nm of torque at just 1,750rpm, while the naturally aspirated 1.6 litre petrol Boxer 4 from the Subaru, although more stable, as it sits lower down the engine bay; makes do with just 150Nm, which happens at 3,600rpm. You will find yourself pushing the ‘Scooby’ past the 3,500rpm mark often, to get the car going at a good speed. Both cars are not extremely fast, with the Subaru doing the century sprint at 12.4 seconds and the Megane losing out by just 0.1 seconds.

But talking about efficiency, the Megane delivers a very impressive 27km/l, thanks to the range-providing diesel engine, while the Subaru manages a much lower 15.6km/l.

Out in the real world, and on the road, we loved how comfortable both cars were, when encountering uncomfortable surfaces. The Impreza’s rigid frame, ensured that there was minimal flex, reducing the amount of rattles you’d likely experience in the cabin. The rear double wishbone suspension kept the rear in check when pushing the compact sedan around a series of bends, while the symmetrical all-wheel drive, which Subaru is famous for, keeps most understeer at bay. Give the car a bit more power with the wheel turned, and you will experience the car wanting to go straight just that little, while the rear lightens up. All this can be kept in check with the release of the throttle.

One added advantage is that the Impreza does stop in emergencies much better than its French counterpart around a tight bend, in part thanks to the AWD. The direct body-mounted rear stabiliser, which contributes plenty to the rigid structure, ensures that the Impreza is able to take on much more than what an ordinary road user may throw at it. Unfortunately, the great driving experience is marred by the lack of power from the 1.6, and the CVT transmission’s unwillingness to respond.

Renault’s compact sedan delivers a more entertaining drive, due to the massive torque it delivers lower down. The car actually feels quicker than the Subaru, due to this. The 6 speed automatic is  a dual clutch unit, ensuring minimal power loss when switching gears. Additionally, drivers will not experience that brutal surge with each gear change. Interior insulation, keeps signature diesel chatter from the engine out in most instances. The fun of having a large sunroof adds more light into the cabin, creating an added dimension of play.

But who is the clear winner in this? While the Subaru has done an excellent job with their new Subaru Global Platform, where it does so well around the bends, the delivery of the drive from the engine can be rather disappointing. The Renault does benefit from the added range and torque produced by the little 1.5 turbocharged diesel unit.

With the current day CEVs still in place, the Megane is an extremely good buy.


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Engine

Engine Capacity 1461cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 110bhp @ 4000rpm
Torque 250Nm @ 1750rpm
Power to Weight 83.3 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 12.5s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 190 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 27.0 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 6 -speed Auto
Drive Type FF
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type Sedan
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4630 x 1814 x 1434) mm
Wheelbase 2711 mm
Turning Circle 10.9 metres
Kerb Weight 1320 kg
Boot Capacity 550 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 47 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs

Engine

Engine Capacity 1600cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 11:1
Bore x Stroke (78.8 x 82)mm
Power 113bhp
Torque 150Nm
Power to Weight 80 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 12.4s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 185 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 15.6 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Drive Type F4
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type 5 Door Hatch
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4460 x 1775 x 1480) mm
Wheelbase 2670 mm
Turning Circle 10.6 metres
Kerb Weight 1413 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 50 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs