REVIEW DATE: 19 Jul 2010
Renault's Megane Coupe Cabriolet features a glass roof that could provide an edge over the competition. June Neary explains.
Contrary to popular belief, the cardinal motoring sin isn't exceeding the speed limit, carrying out a ram-raid on PC World or driving a Humvee. Shameful though these activities are, they're nothing compared to the heinous act of buying a convertible car and constantly driving it with the roof up. Now, the Police might well have a different view on this but seeing people driving convertibles with the hood closed on sunny, dry days makes my blood boil like nothing else. Why choose a drop-top in the first place if you aren't going to make the most of it when the opportunity arises? If motorists are going to behave in this unreasonable manner, at least they could have the good grace to do so in a Renault Megane Coupe-Cabriolet, a convertible that feels like the roof's down, even when it's up. There are lots of affordable convertible cars based on ordinary family hatchbacks but the Renault Megane Coupe Cabriolet has a feature that helps it stand out from the rest. The roof is made of glass. Renault has engineered a folding glass hard-top canopy for the car that fills the cabin with light when it's raised. It's no substitute for a proper wind-in-the-hair drive but the experience is different to that encountered in an ordinary hard-top or a convertible car with the roof raised. Is this enough to give this Renault an edge over the likes of Peugeot's 308 CC and the Ford Focus Coupe Cabriolet?
You give up a lot when choosing a convertible. Passenger and boot space are invariably reduced, the handling can come over a bit wobbly and the cost tends to be significantly more. As a result, it makes sense to stow that roof whenever possible. In the Megane, this is done at the touch of a button, the roof breaks apart and begins its balletic decent into the confines of the boot. 21 seconds later, the Megane CC is an elegantly proportioned convertible. The windscreen is a long way forward to maximise cabin space and aid access through the car's two doors. It's also designed to work in conjunction with the fixed glass wind deflector behind the rear headrests to reduce air flow through the cabin at speed - keeping your hairdo intact. The boot is only 211 litres with the hood lowered but rises to 417-litres with it raised and access to this luggage area is enhanced both by a wide aperture and a low sill height 590mm from the ground. The glass roof gives the Megane an unusual look, one that I like. Some hard-top convertibles set out to disguise the fact that the roof is removable through their styling but the Megane Coupe-Cabriolet intentionally looks like an open topped-car whether the hood is up or down. When raised, the glass roof forms a bubble over the cabin bringing an airy feel to the interior. The translucent glasshouse also gives the car a bottom-heavy appearance for a more purposeful stance on the road.
The chassis of a car can loose rigidity when the roof is removed but Renault took a number of steps to keep the Megane stiff and nimble on the road. The body of the car is a full 80% stiffer than that of the previous generation Megane CC while the MacPherson strut front suspension features the Megane's innovative 'horned' subframe arrangement to improve lateral rigidity. There's also an electric power steering system designed to provide more feedback from the road surface. There's a choice of petrol and diesel engines available to fill the engine bay of the Megane CC. These range from a 110bhp 1.6-litre petrol to a 160bhp 2.0-litre dCi diesel. Renault's impressive TCe (Turbo Control efficiency) technology is employed in the 130bhp 1.4 and 180bhp 2.0 TCe units while there's a couple of interesting options for those who'd prefer an automatic. The conventional 140bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine can be mated to a smooth shifting CVT gearbox and the entry-level 110bhb dCi diesel is available with Renault's clever EDC twin-clutch auto.
With its retractable glass canopy serving as a handy unique selling point at the affordable end of the convertible market, the Megane CC is an impressive effort. The glass roof makes for a lighter, airier cabin than most convertibles and contributes to the Renault's well-resolved exterior styling. Reasonable practicality for a convertible of this type also counts in its favour and the car looks to have a fighting chance of success.
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