Renault Megane Coupe Cabriolet 1.2 TCe

Renault's second generation Megane CC's star feature is its folding glass roof. Let's check out the improved version with 1.2 TCe petrol power. Jonathan Crouch reports.

Ten Second Review

Renault's glass-roofed Megane CC is aiming to bring a new level of elegance to the affordable folding hard-top convertible market. The competition's tough, but this contender has enough about it to stand apart, especially in 1.2 TCe petrol guise.

Background

You've heard of convertibles with fabric roofs and metal roofs? Well here's one with a glass roof. Renault is banking on its second generation Megane Coupe-Cabriolet establishing a clear lead over rivals at the relatively affordable end of the drop-top market. As well as needing to minimise the usual compromises associated with compact open-top cars sporting four seats, it must reconcile practicality, driving dynamics and integrating a bulky roof mechanism without sabotaging the styling. A difficult task. But not an impossible one for Renault. With their Wind model serving those shopping at the cheapest two-seater end of the folding drop-top market, this Megane is free to offer something a little more premium in the family-hatchback-based coupe-cabriolet sector where an army of rivals led by Volkswagen's Golf Cabrio and Peugeot's 308CC aim to tempt those with between £20,000 to £25,000 to spend on looking fashionable in a car of this kind.

Driving Experience

History suggests that cars with folding tops big enough to cover four seats aren't the last word in structural rigidity. But more recent models from this segment are much better in this respect, with extra chassis strengthening and, sure enough, this Megane CC has an impressively solid feel, being a full 80% stiffer than its predecessor. The penalty for this is over 180 kilos more weight. So you wouldn't expect it to be especially rapid. But a car can still be responsive, even if it isn't downright quick and the 130bhp 1.2-litre TCe petrol variant tested here is a perfect example of that. Although it takes 11.2s to cover the rest to sixty mph sprint, its roll-on pace through the gears is actually pretty impressive thanks to the engine's ample torque. The petrol engines need a bit of revving to produce their very best, which inevitably has an impact on fuel economy, so you may well feel that a diesel would be a better bet. The 110bhp 1.5-litre dCi option (which comes complete with option of Renault's clever EDC twin-clutch auto) might struggle a little of you're doing lots of open-road work, but the 130bhp 1.6 dCi unit is as flexible as you would hope.

Design and Build

This improved version gets the front end re-style recently introduced to other Megane models. What's important though is that roof. Some hard-top convertibles set out to disguise the fact that the roof is removable through their styling but the Megane Coupe-Cabriolet intentionally looks like an open topped-car whether the hood is up or down. When raised, the glass roof forms a bubble over the cabin bringing extra illumination and an airy feel to the interior. The translucent glasshouse gives the car a bottom-heavy appearance for a more purposeful stance on the road. At the touch of a button, the roof breaks apart and begins its balletic decent into the confines of the boot. 21 seconds later, the Megane CC is an elegantly proportioned convertible. The windscreen is forward to maximise cabin space and aid access through the car's two doors. It's also designed to work in conjunction with the fixed glass wind deflector behind the rear headrests to reduce air flow through the cabin at speed. Elsewhere, the interior design is similar to the Megane hatchback models with the same classy materials on display. The boot is only 211 litres with the hood lowered but rises to 417-litres with it raised and access to this luggage area is enhanced both by a wide aperture and a low sill height 590mm from the ground.

Market and Model

The smart glass roof mechanism on one of these isn't inexpensive, creating a premium of around £3,000 over the cost of an ordinary 5-door Megane with comparable engine and spec. That sees Megane Coupe-Cabriolet prices sitting mainly in the £22,000 to £26,000 price bracket now expected of this class of car and so slightly pricier than its most direct rivals, the Peugeot's 308CC and Volkswagen's Golf Cabrio, but there isn't that much in it. Engine-wise, the 130bhp of the 1.2 TCe tested seems about right for this car. As this isn't an overtly sporting car, this engine (or the similarly powerful 1.6 dCi diesel) probably makes plenty of sense. If you want an automatic, there's a 110bhp diesel option. All variants come with the R-Link infotainment system plus a neat button that simultaneously retracts all the electric windows, alloy wheels, cruise control, the fixed glass wind deflector, air conditioning, Bluetooth compatability for your mobile 'phone, auto headlamps and wipers and the kind of fully integrated Tom Tom sat nav system that'd be extra cost on rivals. Safety kit is also generous with ESP stability control fitted as standard along with a full complement of front, side and thorax airbags. The car is also designed to protect occupants in the event of a roll-over with specially reinforced windscreen pillars and body structure. Hence its five-star Euro NCAP safety rating.

Cost of Ownership

All of the diesel engines in the Megane Coupe Cabriolet come fitted with DPF particulate filters to keep a check on emissions. Despite the extra weight of this convertible model, economy shouldn't be a million miles away from what's achieved by Megane hatchbacks with the same engines. The 1.6 dCi 130 variant that many will want manages 64.2mpg on the combined cycle and 115g/km of CO2, a small but significant improvement on the 62.8mpg and 115g/km recorded by the 1.5 dCi 110 diesel. If you go the petrol route, the 1.2 TCe tested here manages 44.1mpg on the combined cycle and 145g/km of CO2. Servicing costs are a strongpoint, with attention needed only every 18,000 miles or two years and no cambelt to worry about. Insurance groupings range between 17 and 22 on the 1-50 groupings scale.

Summary

Affordable folding hard-top cars used to ask for some pretty big sacrifices of their owners. Today's models are different and this one makes the point - and is a sensible choice in 1.2 TCe petrol form. The second generation Megane Coupe Cabriolet both looks and feels less like they're built around a hefty, complex roof mechanism and more like fully-developed designs in their own right. The Megane CC has a quality feel and a light, airy interior courtesy of the innovative two-piece glass top that seems certain to get the neighbours talking. In fact, all the reasons people buy cars of this kind are the reasons they might like this one. It's a little different - and more than a little desirable. And at the end of the day, for coupe-cabriolet buyers, that's usually what matters the most.