Following the example of SEAT, which won Car of the Year in Portugal in 2000 and 2001, Renault also had a double. So, after Laguna in 2002, it was the turn of Renault Megane win the award a year later, in 2003.
However, the success of the second generation of the Welsh family member had to be a little greater than that of his “older brother”. In addition to winning Car of the Year in Portugal, Mégane also enjoyed continental success, winning the coveted “European Car of the Year” award.
In order to do this, the French compact had precious help from its design. While the first Mégane was somewhat conservative (an evolution of the Renault 19 themes), the second generation radically cut with the past, being much more daring and avant-garde, using the same visual language that the French brand had inaugurated with the Avantime that was based on it. “Like a glove”.
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A (very) complete range
If the design was controversial and divisive, on the other hand the second generation Renault Mégane could not be blamed for lack of variety. in addition to the traditional hatchback with three and five doors, the Mégane was still presented as a van (which many fans conquered in Portugal), as a sedan (particularly appreciated by our PSP) and also as a then mandatory convertible with a hardtop.
Out of the range was only the minivan, all because by that time Scénic had already conquered its independence from Mégane, even mod- ed in two sizes, but that’s a story for another day.
If the design turns heads (especially the quirky rear of the hatchback) was passive safety that offered Mégane to stand out in the specialized press. After the Laguna achieved five stars at Euro NCAP, the first to do so, the Mégane followed in his footsteps and became the first car in the C-segment to get the maximum score.
The van was a real success here…
All of this confirmed the focus placed by Renault on the safety of its models at the turn of the century and, truth be told, it established a “gauge” by which safety was now measured.
… And technology too
At the beginning of the 21st century, another of Renault’s focuses was a technological offer and, like the Laguna, the Mégane also seemed to be a “showcase on wheels” of everything that the Gallic brand had to offer.
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The biggest highlight was, without any doubt, the starter card, a segmentless debut. To this were added, depending on the versions, “luxuries” such as the light and rain sensors or the panoramic roof, and small “treats” such as courtesy lights on the doors that only helped to elevate the feeling of quality aboard the French proposal. .
The Diesel Age
If today’s commitment to safety and technology has as much or more importance than it was when the Mégane was launched, on the other hand, the bet on Diesel engines, crucial at the time, is now practically forgotten, with electrons, whether in the form of engines hybrids or purely electric, to take its place.
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After its first generation being served only by diesel engines with 1.9 l, the Renault Mégane erected in its second generation one of its most famous engines: the 1.5 dCi. Initially with 82 hp, 100 hp or 105 hp, after the restyling, in 2006, it would offer 85 hp and 105 hp.
The small 1.5 l was also joined by the 1.9 dCi with 120 cv and 130 cv in the Diesel range, which would later be joined by the 2.0 dCi with 150 cv after the Mégane’s renovation.
As for the gasoline supply, the almost total absence of turbo engines reminds us of the time when the Mégane II was launched. At the base was a 1.4 l with 80 hp (which disappeared with the resyling) and 100 hp. This was followed by a 1.6 l with 115 hp, a 2.0 l with 140 hp (which lost 5 hp after the renovation) and on top came a 2.0 turbo with 165 hp.
The unpublished Megane RS
In addition to design, safety and technology, there was one more differentiating factor for the second generation of Renault Mégane and we are, of course, talking about Mégane RS, the first chapter of a saga that has given us one of the main references in the field of hot incubation until today.
Exclusively available in format hatchback and three-door, the Mégane RS not only had a specific, more aggressive feature, it completes a revised chassis and, of course, the most powerful engine in the range: a 2.0 l turbo with 16 valves and 225 hp.
Truth be told, as first evaluations were not as positive, but Renault Sport knew how to evolve a machine until it became a reference among critics and its peers.
Aesthetically, Mégane RS did not disappoint…
The maximum exponent of this evolution would be the Megane RS R26.R. Described as “sort of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS of the hot incubation“This one was 123 kg lighter than the others and elegant, without great difficulty by the way, as the ultimate Mégane II, as well as having conquered, at the time, the record for the fastest front wheel drive on the legendary Nürburgring . A machine so fantastic that it deserved even more special attention from us:
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With 3 100 000 units produced between 2003 and 2009, the Renault Mégane was for many years one of the references in the segment. Interestingly, and despite its better image, it was something far from the five million units sold by the first generation.
A serious case of success in our country (even Guilherme Costa had one), Mégane II was responsible for introducing technologies into the segment and increasing safety standards.
Today, the fourth generation continues to add successes and is even electrified. However, the avant-garde testimony carried by the second generation of Mégane seems to have in the new, and unprecedented, Megane E-Tech Electric his main heir.
Do you want to meet the other Car of the Year winners in Portugal? Follow the link below:
NOT TO BE MISSED: Meet all the Car of the Year winners in Portugal since 1985