Yes Yes Yes oh YES: open top, great audio, great on the open road
Oh dear me no: feels heavy in corners, CVT, thick rear end
As you all know, I like a bit of a convertible. There is nothing like an open road, the wind in the hair, and the sun on your skin, as long as the day isn’t too hot, or wet. It’s easy to be zip right past well done and on to burnt-to-a-crisp without knowing it. The Mégane convertible is a bit of a mixed bag. I rarely drive a convertible with the roof up, well, why would anyone have the roof up unless it’s raining? The little roof dance attracts people every time it is performed, but do please make sure you have enough room in the rear. When the boot cover swings backward it needs quite a bit of space. The old girl has a fulsome rump.
The Mégane has the same trouble disguising the ample rear end that all 4 seater CCs have. It has to be thick and bulbous in order to hide all that metal and glass which magically disappears. If you don’t like that look then this isn’t the car for you. With the roof up, the acres of heat deflecting glass look very impressive in an aircraft cockpit kind of way. It’s hard to believe all that glass folds away neatly in around 20 seconds. When it does, you’ll still have about 200 litres of boot space which is better than some we’ve tested. Mazda’s MX5 does a better job all-round, as they are now all folding hard tops. It’s a much better drive and far better looking, but only has 2 seats. More importantly, it costs $12,000 more than the Mégane after Renault dropped the price of the CC which starts at $41k drive away. Even the GT-Line is 6 grand less than the smaller Mazda. Even a 6 grand saving buys a lot of posh rooms on road trips.
The exterior looks good even with the big bum.
The interior is comfy with a slightly retro feel.
The 7” touch screen allows a driver to input directly, or via the rotary control between the front seats. The screen is mounted a long way away from the driver on a very deep dashboard. it requires a rather uncomfortable reach forward, and it is not the sort of thing you want to be doing while at 110kph. All of the inputs can be done by a clever toggle arrangement on the centre console which is much easier at speed. Once you learn where the buttons are you don’t need to take your eyes off the road.
The leather feels decent and the seats comfy. The only beef is the heated seat controls which are secreted on the sides of the plinth the seat is mounted on. To roll the dial to the various settings you must first slide your hand down between the door and the seat and feel around. It is awkward and while there won’t be too many times when we Australians would reach for it, it is hard to use at first. The rotary dial is easily knocked to the on position, but you won’t know it until your bum feels like it’s spent the afternoon baking under a Saharan sun.
The standard appointments are impressive. Renault released the GT Line in drop top but it doesn’t seem to have helped the sales. Only 2 CCs found homes last month, and only 65 of Renault’s total of 6899 cars have been CCs so far this year. That’s a shame as it’s an excellent cruiser. Imagine you and your hunny cruising down the coast road with its gentle curves and majestic views. You’ve got the roof down and a picnic hamper on the back seat. Better still, there won’t be any rear passengers unless of course they have no legs. Although the CC is marketed as a 4 seater, 2 of those seats should be considered emergency seating only.
What you won’t be doing is whipping the Mégane CC through tight corners and mountain passes. That is not her natural habitat. Although Renault has a fabulous manual gearbox, it isn’t available in Australia in the convertible. Instead, we have the CVT which is a gear-less form of automatic. The soft touring suspension lends itself to highways but is a bit scary in tight bends. It is very comfy but doesn’t make for “quick” changes of direction. Together with the CVT, everything feels as if it is happening in slow motion and that’s the best way to drive it. 100kph is reached in a leisurely 11.7 seconds with the poor 103kw 2.0L motor screaming its tits off. 103kw isn’t normally a problem, but the Mégane is a hefty lassie and has a kerb weight of a not inconsiderable 1631kgs. I suspect a substantial chunk of that weight is the roof with its glass and folding mechanics. There is a fair amount of flex in the body too, especially with the roof down. You can hear the windows moving against the rubber seals when negotiating driveways etc. It’s not off putting but it doesn’t make for a tight sporty chassis, and I rather like a tight, err, chassis. We all associate sportiness with convertibles, but it is rarely the case.
It took a while but I got used to the steering and handling and thoroughly enjoyed myself but it is a horses for courses moment. There is nothing like open top motoring. You feel part of nature with every smell, every temperature change and every shard of light having a sense of urgency about it. There is very little disturbance the coif and even in the coolest weather you feel warm-ish.
It was in the city where the CC felt least at home. The lack of power and an unresponsive CVT make her feel a bit heavy. A tiny little turbo and a proper manual would sort that out but the waist line feels high. No amount of fettling is going to change that. You don’t notice it so much on the open road but around town it only adds to the feeling of a car out of it’s depth. Despite all that I like the Mégane, but not enough to buy it. It is an awful lot of car for the price. In the price range we have the Toyota 86 and while not a drop-top, is a proper sports car. For a little extra you could have a Golf GTi which blows the Mégane’s doors off. For similar money, the 86 and Golf provide better looks and better handling. If I absolutely had to have open top motoring, the Golf Cab also has 4 seats and comes in either a 6sp manual or 6sp DSG auto. It feels light and nippy and is a joy to drive. The roof goes down without having come to a stop and it is fabric which takes less space in the boot.
This is the kind of car for a person who spends most of their time on the open road at 110kph or an older person who drives slowly round town. It makes the target market very small which no doubt accounts for the slow sales.
Would I buy one: no, I’d go for a Golf
engine / trans: 2.0L petrol, CVT driving front wheel
econ/0-100: 8.1L/100k, 1.7 seconds
Price: $39,990-$47,790 drive away