Blue sky thinking

By Nick Jones

Saturday, 4th February 2012, 12:53 pm

I’ve driven a few Renault Meganes in my time, but never the CC – standing for Coupe Cabriolet – and thank heavens the weather was kind to me.

The folding hard-top convertible market is a popular choice nowadays, but boy they need to look good; they have to be stylish, never compromise on ride quality, practical and, above all, able to hide the somewhat bulky roof mechanism.

The Megane CC has a not-so-secret weapon in its ability to attract customers... it looks like a cabriolet whether the roof is up or down.

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Quite a few manufacturers disguise their roof to make it look like a hard top, but Renault is having none of it.

The glass roof is a key factor here in bringing sunshine into the Megane even when the roof is up – a clever bit of marketing and design methinks.

Pull a knob on the console and the glass top folds neatly and quietly into the bowels of the boot in less than 25 seconds - a rapid transition from virtual sunshine to the real thing.

To help with what really matters here – the driving experience – Renault has stiffened the chassis and beefed up the suspension, and given the Megane a new steering system to “communicate better” with the driver.

The result is a more refined ride than ever before, the car feeling compliant enough not to shake your fillings out but still firm enough to allow you to play in the tight, twisty stuff.

Power comes from a choice of engines, whether your preference is for petrol or diesel. Most interesting of all has to be the TCe – which stands for Turbo Control efficiency – either in a 130bhp 1.4-litre or a more powerful 2.0-litre that packs 180bhp. You can mate an automatic to either the 2.0-litre petrol or the twin-clutch version using the 1.5 dCi 110bhp diesel.

Parity is restored ranging from a 1.6-litre petrol engine, or at the top end of the scale one can pick the 2.0-litre dCi diesel, with a 160bhp engine.

I’ll give you the figures for the 2.0-litre diesel, then you can sort of work your way back into the ‘mix’ and decide for yourself which engine is the best for you. Ok then, it’ll get to 140mph, with 0-60mph despatched in just over 13 seconds.

Emissions as you’d expect from these fuel-efficient engines read well with 175g/km, and for comparison the 1.5 dCi is just 109g/km; expect over 55mpg and an insurance grouping of mid-20s.

Internally it’s well-equipped too, Keyless entry to get things underway, climate control, leather trim and all the usual stuff. There is also an excellent stereo plus the latest Carminat satellite navigation system that is brilliantly accurate.

Space inside is good, rear seat passengers get a good deal as far as knee and leg room goes, and when the roof is shut generous headroom is apparent.

It’s full of airbags and safety devices, as you would expect, not forgetting the reinforced pillars and rigid body should the car flip over whilst the roof is open.

In a market housing the likes of the Ford Focus CC and the Peugeot 308CC, the Megane is in tough country. I suspect most of you will buy not necessarily on price but on driving dynamics and certainly looks. In this case, the Renault is a smart, stylish Coupe Cabriolet and with prices starting at £21,260, rising to £25,000 I’m sure you could find a match pretty quickly.

Just for comparison, the entry-level Focus CC starts at £22,000 and the 308 CC matches the Renault. Over to you.