Hats off to a cool cabrio
Good looks get Renault’s convertible over the finishing line, writes Craig Duff
CABRIOS are about looking cool, not feeling it, and on that basis Renault’s topless Megane is a winner.
As a coupe it’s a smart Euro-styled car with a huge glass roof, but it comes into its own when the hardtop is stowed for open-air motoring.
THE pleasure of roof-down motoring is a $16,000 premium over the topspec Megane hatch and adds 160kg to the weight. That puts it right in the running for compact cabrio buyers.
The competition is fierce with the Ford Focus, Holden Astra and VW Eos all within $1000.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, though, which is why Renault Australia expects this car to grab a solid slice of the market.
THE Karmann-designed folding hardtop isn’t the quickest operating system on sale, but it does a good job of insulating the occupants from exterior noise.
Renault also worked to quieten the car when stationary and it generally works — there isn’t a lot of noise if you’re stopped at the lights by yourself. The high waistline helps block sound and make the occupants feel secure.
Standard equipment includes a satnav, auxiliary and USB inputs, heated driver’s seat and heated exterior mirrors, a glass wind deflector and an eight-speaker sound system.
THE coupe-cabriolet carries the Megane family’s front-end design DNA and will earn fans for its clean lines. It looks good with the roof up and is hard to pick as a convertible.
The interior is smart and functional and the front seats automatically roll forward to increase access room for rear passengers. Lift the lid and lines still flow, but boot space is then limited to a couple of overnight bags.
CONVERTIBLES compromise safety — it’s hard to engineer as much structural protection into a vehicle that doesn’t have a roof — but the Megane feels like a solid chunk of metal.
The B-pillar has been reinforced for more protection from a side-on hit and a pair of pop-up roof arches deploy in milliseconds if the system detects a rollover.
Daytime running lights make the car more visible and a tyre pressure monitoring system will detect any loss of pressure if it becomes a major drama.
Software runs from ABS with brake asssist and brakeforce distribution to electronic stability and traction control.
WATCHING the windscreen flex by a couple of millimetres as the roof releases doesn’t inspire confidence, but the chassis is more than a match
A pretty filly: Renault’s Megane cabrio will turn heads in the spa resort carpark.