First DriveFacelifted range-topping Mégane features revised styling and tweaked chassis, but ergonomic flaws and a substantial price tag dent its overall appeal
First DriveFacelifted Megane remains a hard sell, but makes a refreshingly sporty fleet car
What is it?
Renault Megane CC is the latest model in the Megane family. Canvas roofs may have made a comeback at the premium end of the convertible market, but here Renault has opted a for folding glass hard-top made by Karmann that has the benefits of looking good and allowing plenty of light into the cabin when closed, but carries a significant 110kg weight penalty.
In all, after chassis modifications, the CC is 160kg heavier than the equivalent Megane hatchback. Standard spec includes a built-in Carminat TomTom sat-nav.
What's it like?
If you accept the compromise you're always going to make by taking the top off a car (Porsche Boxster, excepted) then the new Renault Coupe-Cabriolet is a remarkably comfortable and competent machine. To say rear space is at a premium would be understating the lack of accommodation behind the driver, but up front you're treated very well.
With the lid up, the glass roof and big rear window let in plenty of sunlight and what you see, in design terms, looks very pleasant, with the exception of the TomTom sat-nav which sits at the top of the centre console in a housing that bears no resemblance to the rest of the interior design. It worked well, albeit with out-of-date maps, though you could argue that the benefits of a TomTom are lost if it's hardwired and you can't remove/replace it.
The diesel unit produces 158bhp at 3750rpm, and a good spread of torque from low in the rev range. It most situations you can expect it to pull comfortably from 1200rpm in third or fourth, which makes for relaxed driving, as does the well-isolated engine note.
Dynamically the CC feels stable at high speed (and surprisingly quiet with the roof down and the wind deflector up), and the body control is pretty good considering its pliant ride. We'll have to delay judgement on the finer details of the ride for the UK launch as there wasn't a hint of pothole or broken surface on the three-hour test route.
The thick-rimmed wheel is easy to grip, and the electric power steering provides a consistent weighting as you apply more lock, though it feels a little artificial as you wind it back and straighten up. The CC responds steadily rather than quickly to steering inputs, with a fair degree of understeer, and you soon find out why. The extra weight at the back of the car (open the boot and you'll see a huge hydraulic damping piston and a forest of levers and hinges) means that it gets quite lively as soon as the front begins to bite. That means that in committed driving you can find that the attitude of the car changes pretty rapidly, though never dangerously.
Should I buy one?
The Megane CC is nearest in character to the Volkswagen Eos, particularly because of the appealing interior design and folding glass roof. If you're tempted to buy the VW, then you should definitely test drive the Renault first.
Compare the CC with a broader group of rivals, such as the Ford Focus or VW Golf, and enthusiastic drivers may find that the dynamic compromises of a folding hard-top (glass or not) are less easy to justify.