Ray Leathern thinks the Renault Megane Coupe Convertible GT-Line is a fairly cheap and cheerful way of experiencing open topped motoring in comfort.
We’ve all been there, embarking on yet another journey of reinvention. It’s often brought on by the holidays, a long hiatus, or a change in personal or professional life. You take stock of yourself and endeavour to leave the binge drinking and pack of fags a day behind. Fishing out the old gym card from behind the fridge, maybe even filling the pantry with lots of things that say ‘organic’ on them.
It’s no bad thing, but I’ve been through the cycle enough times to know, you need something a little bit special in that routine if you’re going to make it ‘stick’, if you’re really going to make a meaningful change. Otherwise it’s just the same old wheezy you, still unable to bend down and touch your toes, just in new clothes.
This is much like the world of Renault and the re-launched Megane Coupe Convertible or CC GT-Line. The last two CC’s we’ve known in South Africa were always a cheap and cheerful way of experiencing open topped motoring and turning a few heads in the process. The CC in fact may very well have been the hippest Renault ever to make it out of France at one point, until the blitzing RenaultSport models took over as halo status holders for hot hatch lovers and petrol heads.
The very last Megane CC GT had a stonking 2.0-litre turbo engine in it as well, that while not as tuned and menacing as the Renault Sport models with maximum horsepower, still got the tin-top pushing off the line with great gusto. Renault has never struggled to make a good engine though. Just look at Formula One for goodness sake, they supply all the best engines these days.
At this point I have to admit that I personally think all four seater, hardtop convertibles are always going to scrape the bottom of the bin automotively speaking. I.E., they are mostly all rubbish and, in the case of the Chrysler Sebring Convertible, they are indeed the worst car ever made. It’s a simple matter of packaging. For a hardtop roof to be fully retracted into the boot, it has to have an ocean liner long rear end and it will weigh as much as a church pew. This doesn’t bode well for balance, speed, dynamics, body rigidity and all the other things I value most in a car.
However, the all new CC GT-Line’s exterior looks and nip / tuck detail-lines don’t look half bad. Like well prescribed incisions below the brow line providing defined cheekbones, the GT-Line’s front styling is quite removed from the older one. The once buxom-bottomed Megane rear end is well tempered on this one too. The headlights are pulled up and further around the front end in line with contemporary trends. The CC’s sprightly new LED tail lights contrast with sparkle against their darkened tail light casings. The CC GT-Line still doesn’t exactly portray a venomous presence, though, as the styling lines begin to go very wrong from the B-pillar backwards. The bland wheels also look quite lost against the tall, enormous body. We’d suggest Renault try introducing optional 18- or even 19-inch wheel upgrades if they want the CC GT-Line to be taken seriously in the looks department.
On the inside, surprisingly enough, there is quite a lot of kit and comfort for the price. The ultra-comfortable and heated seats are exactly what you’d expect from a soft Frenchie. You also get the very latest TomTom Live sat-nav, which suggests new routes for you should you encounter a highway snarl up, as well as a few extra bells like rear park sensors to make it more user-friendly on a day-to-day basis. The interior wind deflector that sits over the rear seats is very useful, as are the swivelling headlamps at night. It’s a car that offers good value for the money.
The 1.4-litre turbocharged TCE engine isn’t fast or intense in any way and it has a massive job to power the ungainly body, but it does growl and turbo whistle ever so slightly and isn’t a bad way to get yourself around town. It’s a good engine with absolutely no turbo lag and good response in producing its 96 kW and 190 Nm, while consuming 7.3 L/100km in the process. The steering is quite well poised for a fair-to-good driving feel, although it must be said that once the CC’s big weight is loaded up on either side of the car in a corner, you can almost feel the tyres wobble and go to pieces at the prospect of it all. Acceleration from 0 – 100 km/h takes 11 seconds and top speed is 200 km/h. The CC’s engine requires quite a few stirs of the 6-speed manual gearbox to get it on the boil, but that’s no bad thing because the shift action is actually very good – as it is in all Meganes.
Motoring is an evolutionary game and these new Renault’s, despite the intrinsic flaws of hard top convertibles are at least sticking to their guns and making good adaptations with the new TCE engine. They ensure a good driving feel and have improved the interior, styling and equipment levels for the amount of money you’re spending. I’ve found myself becoming almost a little bit fond of the Renault Megane CC GT-Line, they are aggressively priced and despite my gripes, worthy competitors in their segments.
Is that really enough against the very good Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet, a car that forgoes a hardtop roof for the benefits of a compact soft top instead? I’m not sure it is. I suspect years down the line Renault Megane CC’s will be consigned to the back of the pantry, with the rest of the unopened organic groceries, as the quirky, eccentric car for nice people that it always was.
What we like…
- Fair steering despite it being a convertible as long and heavy as a yacht.
- Fair power, torque, economy from the 1.4-litre TCE engine.
- Sat-Nav and heated seats are a must for a convertible.
What we would like…
- A soft top roof and the better styling/dynamics that comes with it.
- Bigger wheels, a lower ride height and more of a body kit.
- A brown paper bag to hide your face when the roof comes down.
|Base Price||R359 900|
|Warranty||5-year / 150 000km|
|Engine Capacity||1 397 cc|
|No. Of Cylinders||4-cylinders, In-line|
|Power||96 kW @ 5 500 r/min|
|Torque||190 Nm @ 2 250 r/min|
|Drive type||Front-wheel drive|
|Acceleration||0 – 100 km/h in 10.7 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||200 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||7.3 L/100km (claimed combined)|
|CO2 Emissions||169 g/km|