Megane CC is no French maid but she’ll still clean you up

Published on March 8th, 2010

Lets be honest, the cold-bloodedness of the local auto industry tax structure hasn’t been especially kind to niche models. So as you can imagine, niche models, such as convertibles, don’t really entice because of the price.

Being a demand and supply catch, car manufacturers understandably don’t list convertibles on the top of the ‘New Model Import’ list for us.

Therefore, in order for a convertible to sell marginally well on our shores, it can’t just be a convertible but needs a little dose of bipolar disorder for it to project some sense semblance of logic to the people that might just decide to drop the cash on these droptops.

Now hold on to the penny for that thought as we’ll get back to it later and let your hair loose (figuratively speaking as most of the Traffic crew are bald) as we hook up with the French connection for a ride in the Renault Megane Coupe-Cabriolet (cabriolet is Euro talk for convertible) or Megane CC for short.

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The saying ‘Less is more’ might be cliché but they’re right for a reason and that’s the thing that sets our synapses firing about Euro pen strokes. Simply put, it’s simple and fuss-free.

Garish grilles, huge wheel arches and the angular lines of a hunchback are best left to the East. The simplicity in continental designs retain a classic and somewhat ageless façade to it.

Putting things in perspective, sure Megan Fox looks like porn with legs and all that body ink is a deal-sealer on nightcaps but isn’t a Kristen Stewart more refreshing (when she’s not sucking face with a vampire who have a low melanin count) and just downright beautiful, not sexy… but beautiful.

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Back to the exterior of the Megane CC then. The front act is headlined by the upward-angled headlights with blacked-out grilles that keep things demure. Once again, the chrome marker was never used on the design board and it’s all the better for it.

Racing away oh-so-slightly from the edge of the headlights is the almost coy shoulder line that seamlessly blends into the rear shoulder.

The piece-de-resistance is most definitely the folding panoramic glass roof. Low slung, it lends a silhouette of sportiness but makes sure not to overcook it. With a glass roof, the interior is bathed in sunlight regardless of its decency.

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Naturally, there’s a sunshade that can be pulled over the top glass panel because local weather will eventually get to you. Furthermore, it’s tinted as well so the abundance of visible light isn’t negated by heat.

Moving onto the sexy rump, the most noticeable feature would have to be the gargantuan boot lid that swallows the two-piece folding roof when the sun is out. Interestingly though, even with its girth, the boot lid manages to merge anonymously with the rest of the rear courtesy of the clean-cut edges.

The top of the boot lid is almost flat, save for the integrated third-brake light that is just the right touch to add some sophistication.

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Granted, the overall exterior doesn’t really shout out and about but that’s precisely the factor that makes it a looker. If you were to admire it from afar, we’re pretty sure there isn’t one single thing that stands out but will find yourself appreciating it on a whole.

Same theory applies for the interior, understated and plain. Sitting pretty centrally atop the dash is a multi-information display that primarily serves as the display for the audio unit but has the time and external temperature as well.

Speaking of which, the audio unit is nothing to shout about. A basic single-CD player with fingertip remote control mounted just aft of the steering wheel does the job just fine and audio quality is satisfactory to say the least. Point to note however, the ‘satisfactory’ judgment is with the top up. If you’re topless, better do as Soulja Boy does and ‘Crank That’ volume up.

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A cooled glove box proves handy in keeping the water bottles cool with the top down.

Once again, nothing really appears prominent about the interior but it isn’t quite bland as well. Arguably though, the most captivating piece of the interior rests between the seats. An aviation style handbrake replaces the normal lever-type we’ve become accustomed to and certainly lights up the driving process. Situated in the middle of the handbrake lever is the switch to operate the folding roof. If the brochures are to be believed, the roof drops in 22 seconds. For comparison’s sake we timed the Mazda MX-5 at a few ticks quicker but than again the size of the roof could be a factor.

The test model we had came with the red and black leather combo and we have to say it lights up the interior. Sportiness mixed with a touch of swish is the best way to describe it.

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The seats themselves are very broad and spacious but for some reason or another, we just couldn’t find a comfortable seating position. Maybe our proportions are weird?

Glancing through the brochure, it states the Megane CC “is ready to whisk you away to exotic locations with plenty of room for you and your friends.” Now unless you’re counted as a friend as well, there’s a higher chance Lindsay Lohan will want to have a foam party fight with me and Rihanna than anybody fitting in the rear seats. Simply put, only those vertically challenged or below the age of five will actually have blood circulating in their legs if they ride in the rear for more than an hour.

Referring back to the quote in the previous paragraph, those exotic locations the Megane CC will whisk you away to better not be above sea level as well because of the powertrain.

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Calling the engine bay home is a 2-liter, 16V, inline-4 mated to a 4-speed slushbox. Peak power is a 135hp and peak twisty force stands at 191Nm of torque. What all this means is that the Megane CC is a tad underpowered.

Although power is sufficient is to lug four people around climbing exotic locations such as Camerons or Genting might be a wee bit of a challenge. Of course you can argue that any car with four physically (once again, the Traffic crew isn’t quite mentally developed) grown people inside will struggle a bit up gradients but the salt in the wound is that the same engine is nestled in the engine bay of the Espace but with a turbocharged bolted on.

And that makes a world of difference. The Espace is a torque monster, pulling its hefty weight and the space-time continuum along with it so just imagine the terror that engine could unleash inside the Megane CC.

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However, the biggest disappointment has to be the gearbox, it simply has a mind of its own. The Pro-active feature is supposed to adapt the gear changes to your driving style but it seemed to adapt the gear changes to the music on the audio unit.

Even the slightest downhill gradient would make it drop a gear almost immediately. Now we know it’s the safety thingy at work and all that but after a while we guarantee you’ll get annoyed with it. We certainly did.

Determined to make the most of the car, we psyched ourselves up and dropped the top in preparation for a spirited drive. Needless to say performance isn’t its forte but having said that, the ride is commendable. Bumps are soaked up with a somewhat solid thud and feedback from the front wheels are enough to reign her in on the limit. All in all, the drive was pleasant, to put it nicely.

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Now remember that penny we asked you to hold onto? Whip it out and slot it back in.

So what does all this mean for the humble Megane CC. Well for starters, it goes for RM RM204,422. This makes it the cheapest of its competitors, such as the Mazda MX-5 and the Volkswagen Eos that go for roughly RM220,000 and RM250,000; give or take.

The MX-5 has history on its side. Although much smaller and only swallows two, its famed handling and sheer driving pleasure plus the tag as the world’s best selling roadster makes it a more sensible buy.

Even the Eos makes more sense although it costs half a limb more. Four-seater with a 2-liter TFSI engine mated to a 6-speed DSG can’t be considered bad by any stretch of the imagination.

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So as we mentioned earlier, convertibles in the local market have to be bipolar and be something else as well. In the case of the MX-5 and Eos, performance is that other character that makes us take a second look. To be brutal, the Megane CC would struggle to even work up the speed to get your hair blowing in the wind.

In conclusion, you might be asking, “Why would anybody buy the Megane CC then?” Well as you might have noticed, the Megane CC certainly doesn’t do performance but that’s the exact point. You would buy the Megane CC just because you wanted a convertible and nothing else.

The MX-5 and Eos makes sense because you’re getting some go to match your show. But what if your inner speed demon is actually under control and all you really want is a convertible to be different? Well the Megane CC is what your inner angels are humming about.

It does everything a convertible should do, not a performance convertible, but just a convertible. And it does it fine like Keeley Hazel’s ass.

text & pix: Dinesh Appavu

Technical  Specification:

Engine: 1988cc, 16V, 4-cylinder

Transmission: 4-speed auto with manual override

Max Power: [email protected]

Max Torque: [email protected]

Safety: ABS, EBD, EBA, 6-airbags

Price: RM204,422.00

P/S: The new Megane CC has been launched at the ongoing Geneva Motor Show

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