Steve Sharpe drives Renault’s Megane Coupe Cabriolet
When the new Mégane Coupe Cabriolet came on to the scene it completed the New Mégane family, joining the Hatch, Coupé, Sport Tourer, Scénic and Grand Scénic.
The second-generation model, which was launched in 2010, followed the design cues of the rest of the brood but added a little bit of flair and style, in a bid to attract the younger buyer to the Megane range.
We Brits love our convertibles and there’s a big market for cabriolets on these shores – it goes to show how much we appreciate the often rare appearance of the sun, and it’s common to see the roof down at the merest hint of sun, or even a pause in the showers.
In fact, with this Megane, you get the added bonus of a summer feeling even with the roof in place. The retractable cover is made up of a tinted panoramic glass roof, which floods the cabin with daylight if not sunlight.
It makes for a light airy cabin, even with the roof up.
The Megane’s not the prettiest coupe cabriolet on the road, and from some angles looks a little awkward with the black glass roof in place, but as with most cabriolets it look best with the roof down.
Its wedge shape, which has the mass of the car towards the rear, does give the rear end a bulky appearance but it also gives the CC an aerodynamic look.
Inside the cabin is smart and well put together. There are a lot of classy-looking materials on show, and in my top trim GT Line test car things looked sporty and stylish.
Red stitching and matching red highlights lift the decor, and the dash is nice to the touch and constructed mainly of a springy material.
The dash is clear and easy to read, although the stereo and the heating controls, like some other in the stable, are small and finicky to operate on the move. The small screen in front of the driver which shows the trip counter is old-fashioned and looks out of place, though.
Renault’s R Link entertainment system is impressive, with all sorts of gadgets and streaming opportunities from your phone, etc, but the central screen’s quite small and in bright light can be hard to work out. It’s touch screen but is quite a long way to reach from the driver’s seat, although there is a dial to control things next to the handbrake.
There is plenty of space in the front seats, although the sharply raked windscreen does mean the corner is precariously close to your head when you get in and out of the car. It’s a bit of a limbo action sometimes.
In the back, however, it’s a different story. There’s very little legroom with the seats back in a normal position, and you have to push them far forward to conjure up enough space even for a nine-year-old to squeeze his legs in.
It’s a bit of a palaver getting in as well, squeezing through the small gap between the door and the front seats.
Shoulder room is a little tight in the rear and, with the high window line, it can seem a little claustrophobic. One of my nine-year-old’s more diminutive friends couldn’t see out of the side window.
But the seats are supportive and comfortable, and it makes for a pleasant place to spend time.
There are seven engines to choose from in the range – four petrol and three diesel – but I drove the 1.6 diesel GT Line version.
It’s a versatile all-rounder, with decent acceleration which seems quicker than its 0-62mph figure of 10.8 would suggest.
It’s not a flyer but driven to its best potential you can extract an enjoyable ride, keeping the revs high and avoiding low revs in higher gears.
But open -topped motoring is meant to be enjoyed, not to go by in a blur, and the Megane certainly is fun to drive with the roof down.
The emphasis seems to be leaning towards comfort rather than performance, and The ride is comfortable and the CC takes most rough surfaces in its stride.
There’s some body lean on corners but this is countered by good levels of grip.
And although the car can feel heavy on winding roads the steering is light enough to cope with it. It’s not totally engaging to drive but it’s nonetheless enjoyable.
People buy a cabriolet with an eye to maximum roof-down driving, so it’s important to have an easy access to that world.
The Megane goes from a coupe to a cabriolet in around 21 seconds, so it’s easy to just pull over to the roadside and cover up or open up.
With the roof down, windows up and the small transparent wind deflector in place, buffetting form the wind is kept pretty minimal.
There is some wind noise when the roof is up and the diesel engine is enthusiastic but things never get overly intrusive.
These days even cabriolets need to be practical and the Megane easily performs as a day to day family car – indeed that’s one of the car’s strengths.
With the roof down, there’s a 211 litres of boot space under the folded roof and, with the roof up, the storage area almost doubles.
There are a lot of quality cabriolets out there but the Megane CC is priced well to compete, with the range starting at around £23,000 rising to more than £27,000 for the top spec version.
But for that there’s a generous amount of kit as standard.
Even entry-level cars come with 17-inch alloys, air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control, a fixed glass wind deflector and fully integrated Tom Tom sat-nav.
Move up to GT Line TomTom and you also get dual-zone climate control, as well as a sporty GT bodykit and two-tone seats and a load more luxury stuff.
Running costs are also good, too, with the green 1.6 diesel engine I drove turning in figures approaching 60mpg.
When you add it all together it makes the Megane a pleasing proposition.
Drop-tops like Mazda’s MX-5 will cater for all-out driving pleasure in a two seater but many will look for a little more practicality in their convertible, and this is where the Renault scores.
Although it lacks belting speed, it does what a cabriolet should do – provides an easy top-down experience and comfortable roof-on practicality, although with the rear seats only those with a very young family should look in its direction.
It’s a stylish looking, nicely put together car ideal for all aspects of day to day driving. It makes summer driving a real pleasure.
Renault Coupe Cabriolet
Engine: 1.6litre diesel
Transmission: Six-speed manual.
0-62: 13.2 seconds.
Top Speed: 118mph.
Economy: Avg 58.9mpg