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Car reviews - Renault - Megane - Coupe-Cabriolet

The Car

21 Oct 2004

RENAULT’S stylish new Megane Coupe-Cabriolet may have taken longer than expected to go on sale Down Under, but the wait for what Renault dubs Australia’s first multi-seasonal vehicle appears to have been worthwhile.

Originally due mid-year, the third bodystyle to arrive here from the French giant’s new Megane small-medium vehicle family combines a high level of standard equipment and safety features, competitive pricing and Australia’s first standard folding steel and glass roof.

Powered exclusively by the same 98kW/191Nm 2.0-litre 16-valve four-pot found in Laguna and Megane hatch, Megane CC will be available from November in a single, well-equipped specification - including six airbags and leather trim – priced from $47,990 for the six-speed manual.

A four-speed auto option adds $2200, while an LX pack (including 17-inch alloys and six-CD stacker) costs $1290.

That represents an entry price $2000 more than Holden’s accomplished Astra convertible ($45,990 for the five-speed manual), which features a gutsier 108kW/203Nm 2.2-litre engine but employs a traditional fabric soft-top and also misses out on the likes of leather upholstery.

Megane goes one better by being, according to Renault, first to offer a folding glass roof as standard

Megane Coupe-Cabriolet’s next closest rival will be Peugeot’s new 307 CC, which for $2000 more ($49,990 five-speed manual) offers the same structural, security and cosmetic advantages as the Renault thanks to its folding metal roof - a system pioneered by the expensive Mercedes-Benz SLK in 1996 but now so popular one can be had for just $29,990 with Daihatsu’s Copen (powered by 50kW/100Nm 659cc triple).

But Megane goes one better by being, according to Renault, first to offer a folding glass roof as standard and, in so doing, giving this CC wider appeal than a regular convertible.

The next generation Astra convertible, based on the redesigned AH hatch launched here last month, is expected to join the folding metal roof brigade in coming years, while Volkswagen’s next Golf cabrio is expected to go one better again in 2005 by offering a world-first sliding glass sunroof within its retractable steel roof.

In the absence of Europe’s wagon variant, the Australian Megane family will be completed in early 2005 by the Scenic and Grand Scenic people-movers.

For now, however, Megane CC is Australia’s least expensive four-seat coupe-convertible and all but matches the 100kW/190Nm output of the 307 CC, which is also available with a higher-performing 130kW/202Nm engine from $56,990. The 147kW Astra Turbo soft-top is quicker again, from a relatively cheap $49,990.

Perhaps the most convincingly styled Megane II variant to appear, the CC transforms itself from a stylish two-door coupe into a four-seater convertible in 22 seconds at the touch of a button.

Megane CC differs substantially by eschewing the sedan’s conventional boot and the hatch’s polarising buttocks for an entirely cohesive pillarless coupe silhouette

Designed by German specialist Karmann, the roof features 3.15mm-thick heat-reflective glass, a heated rear screen, manual interior sunblind and an electro-hydraulic open/closing mechanism. Weighing a total of 78kg (15kg of which is glass), Renault says the sound-proofed roof is 2dB quieter than an equivalent soft-top, resulting in sedan-like interior noise levels.

Based on Megane hatch underpinnings but riding on a 103mm-shorter wheelbase and weighing around 150kg more at 1430kg, CC features the now familiar face presented by its three and five-door hatch and four-door sedan siblings (on sale here since December 2003 and March 2004 respectively).

But Megane CC differs substantially by eschewing the sedan’s conventional boot and the hatch’s polarising buttocks for an entirely cohesive pillarless coupe silhouette in which 80 per cent of the sheetmetal is unique. These include pillarless doors, unique front wings, a new boot and, of course, the folding steel roof with glass top and rear panels. But there’s also a reinforced windscreen frame, cross-body members and rear bulkhead components.

CC is a revelation compared to the much cheaper and flimsier cabriolet it replaces. The car that introduced the Megane nameplate here may have started at just $41,490, with the $43,990 Privilege adding leather, but both were powered by a weazy 79kW/148Nm 1.6.

Apart from its 2.0-litre engine - mated to Nissan six-speed manual or four-speed Proactive manual-shift auto transmissions – the biggest advance is the longer overall body (4355mm) featuring a larger 490-litre boot (just 30 litres smaller than Megane sedan’s and shrinking to 190 litres with the roof down) and 85mm more rear legroom.

Apart from a 17-litre glovebox that’s chilled and locks automatically with the doors and 24mm-lower front seats that feature a slide/recline memory position for convenient rear-seat access, CC reiterates much of the top-spec Megane Dynamique LX hatch’s standard fare.

That means black leather upholstery, 16-inch alloys, six-speaker CD sound system, climate control air-conditioning, power windows/mirrors, remote audio controls, trip computer, cruise control, automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, fog lights, remote central locking and Renault Card keyless starting system.

The high level of standard equipment extends to safety, with the four-seater Megane CC offering twin front airbags, twin head/thorax side airbags and twin anti-submarining airbags, four three-point seatbelts with pretensioners and load-limiters, fold-away brake pedal, Bosch 8.0 ABS, electronic brake-force distribution, brake assist and twin rear foam-covered rollover hoops. A 1.6-litre European model scored a maximum five-star European NCAP crash rating, making Megane CC the safest vehicle in its class.

Red leather trim is optional and there are five metallic (black, red, blue, silver and quartz) and one solid paint colour (blue) to choose from.

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Did you know?

Renault Australia hopes to sell a modest 30 examples a month, in a local convertible market that’s up 57 per cent in the past five years

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