Renault Megane CC 2005 review
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Which is a shame for Marianne Faithfull's tragic musical madame because Paris – and indeed most of Europe – is very convertible-friendly, thanks to a summer sun less severe than Perth's.
Which is why the French are getting pretty good at making cars that survive the tortures of the city and yet let you get your head into the warm air.
Peugeot did a steel droptop car in the mid-1930s, which it followed up with the more recent 206CC (stands for coupe-cabriolet, not corn chips) and 307CC.
Explore the 2005 Renault Megane range
Now it's Renault's turn. The Megane CC is the second-generation model that replaces the smaller, 1.6-engined convertible which had a fabric roof.
The new car is bigger, comes with a bigger engine, is heavier and has the folding steel hat.
It is an exceptionally comfortable to drive, with good dynamics of handling. The engine is willing but though it's a perfect cruiser, it feels the body's weight when pushed hard.
The boot is simply huge, which accounts for the CC's huge bum, but when the roof is up it shrinks to a shallow cargo area.
Though the car has four seats, there's precious little legroom to fit any human in those beautifully sculptured leather rear chairs.
Drive over uneven bitumen with the roof down and you will note some body shakes, indicating more chassis strengthening is needed. It's not bad, but it can be disconcerting.
But the good outweighs the bad.
The roof is actually a thick slab of laminated glass that has been heavily tinted.
It comes with a shadecloth affair which, despite all good intentions, will still try to cook your pate on a long drive on a hot Perth day.
It takes only 22 seconds to get the top off, though a cover within the boot must be in place before the electrics activate. It's this cover that allows room for the retracting steel hood and is responsible for the dramatic reduction in cargo-carrying space.
The Megane CC has a lot of interesting features – the broad and spacious door pockets for water bottles and other stuff, the hidden spaces beneath the door armrests, the comprehensive trip computer, the moveable cigarette ashtray, the oh-so-comfy seats, and the clarity of the main dials.
The engine likes to rev and delivers strong torque to encourage the four-speed auto to work the front wheels.
The gearbox has a semi-manual mode, but this wasn't really the type of car to encourage sports driving.
It also has an annoying pause before engaging first or reverse, but I've been told that delay is deliberate to minimise transmission damage.
The steering is very light at parking speeds but it firms up on the highway. The brakes are over-boosted in typical Renault style.
In fact, it's a nice drive and not overly complicated in the way that French engineers enjoy.
The credit-card size ignition key is unusual, along with the stop/start button, though it works well and the plastic card is a lot easier to carry in your back pocket than a cluster of metallic keys.
The Megane CC has a few rivals and is not especially cheap, though it is an alluring machine. Just don't bring the children.
Range and Specs
|Dynamique||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$4,990 – 7,999||2005 Renault Megane 2005 Dynamique Pricing and Specs|
|Dynamique LX||2.0L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO||$5,500 – 8,580||2005 Renault Megane 2005 Dynamique LX Pricing and Specs|
|Expression||1.6L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO||$5,450 – 6,990||2005 Renault Megane 2005 Expression Pricing and Specs|
|Privilege||1.6L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO||$5,000 – 7,700||2005 Renault Megane 2005 Privilege Pricing and Specs|