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First look: Renault peels the Megane again

From the top down: Renault's third-generation Megane Coupe-Cabriolet is set to hit our shores in October.

New Megane Coupe-Cabriolet heralds sunnier times ahead for Renault in Oz

13 May 2010

RENAULT is looking forward to sunnier sales this year, warmed by a brace of new models including a new, third-generation Megane Coupe-Cabriolet that is set to arrive Down Under in October, just months after its global debut and just in time for summer.

The Megane CC – revealed this week in France – will arrive here amid a throng of new Renault products, led by the new Kangoo and facelifted Trafic van in late July, then the new Megane CC alongside the new Fluence sedan, new Megane hatchback and new Megane Renaultsport 250, all due by October.

Scheduled to arrive here with a 2.0-litre petrol four teamed with a CVT auto, the Megane CC will take on the likes of the Mini Cabrio, the Volkswagen Eos and the Peugeot 308 CC.

The managing director of Renault importer Vehicle Distributors Australia (VDA), Rudi Koenig, said the Megane CC would be equipped with a TomTom satellite-navigation system – a feature he expects in all local Renaults, bar entry-level models, as a “point of difference”.

The Megane CC is 4485mm long – 130mm longer than its predecessor – and wheelbase is up 87mm to 2609mm. The nose shares the hatch’s bonnet and the bumper is the same sports version fitted to the Megane Coupe.

The latest Megane CC has a unique glass roof as before, but it is 10 per cent bigger. The tempered-glass is tinted and has a blind, and consists of two glass panels that fold into the boot with hydraulic rams.

Karmann builds the roof assembly in Germany and ships it to Renault’s Douai plant in northern France where the Megane CC is built alongside the Scenic and Grand Scenic.

35 center imageFrom top: Renault Megane Coupe-Cabriolet, Megane Coupe GT and Megane Sport Tourer GT.

Renault says the folding mechanisms have been reinforced with bigger and more numerous connecting rods to ensure a watertight seal.

The roof weighs 110kg, divided between 75kg in the roof section and 25kg in the folding componentry.

The CC has additional body reinforcement over the hatch, including a double floor section at the front and stronger cross-bracing, with the result being a claimed 80 per cent static and 30 per cent dynamic torsional stiffness improvement over the previous Megane CC.

High standards of crash safety have been a Renault trademark since the Laguna II was the first car to achieve a five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2001, and with the Megane CC it appears Renault have continued its safety focus.

The Megane CC has strengthened windscreen pillars and rollover hoops at the rear that trigger automatically if an imminent rollover is detected.

The full suite of safety also includes dual-volume adaptive front airbag anti-submarining airbags in the front seat cushions to restrict forward movement and rotation of the pelvis, double side-impact sensors that halve the time required to trigger the deployment of the lateral airbags and dual-chamber head/thorax/groin airbags.

For improved access to the cabin, the windscreen header rail is 60mm further forward.

The Megane CC has a fixed glass wind deflector to reduce wind noise and turbulence at up to 90 km/h with the four seats occupied, while an optional mesh deflector can be clipped in place with only front-seat occupants aboard.

In Europe, the Mégane CC is offered in six engine and transmission configurations, three petrol and three diesels.

The petrol engines include a 103kW 2.0-litre (dubbed the 2.0 16V) teamed with a CVT auto, a 130kW turbo 1.4-litre TCe 130 with a six-speed manual, or a turbo 180kW 2.0-litre TCe 180 that is also available with only a six-speed manual.

The diesel engines start with the 1.9-litre, turbo 110kW dCi 110 offered with a six-speed dual clutch automated manual, the 130kW 2.0-litre dCi 130 and 160kW 2.0-litre dCi 160, both available only with a six-speed manual.

The Megane CC will benefit from the development of new features across the third-generation Megane range, such as keyless start and entry, automatic park brake, automatic dual-zone, three-mode (soft/auto/fast) climate control, directional bi-Xenon headlights, 3D sound with USB, mini-jack plug, built-in Carminat TomTom navigation plus user-adjustable settings and activation/deactivation of functions such as daytime running lights and parking sensor volume.

Renault in Europe has also announced two option packs for the Megane range, the GT Line and the GT, which take visual themes from the high-performance Renaultsport range – and with the GT option, some of the hardware, too – to deliver a sports flavour to more pedestrian models.

However, Mr Koenig says neither will come here – as they would only add to model complexity.

In the case of the Megane CC, the GT Line option adds a unique front bumper with grey painted foglight recesses plus a windscreen frame and dashboard surround in the same hue.

A diffuser is fitted to the rear bumper, 17-inch alloy wheels, alloy pedals and a plethora of GT Line badges top off the sports treatment.

The GT option is available only with 160kW diesel or 180kW petrol engines and is badged as a Renaultsport model.

The GT builds on the GT Line features with 18-inch alloy wheels and the Megane Renaultsport 250’s thick-rimmed, leather-trimmed steering wheel plus a chassis based on the sport chassis tuning available on Megane Coupe, a more direct electric power steering ratio of 16:1 compared to 17:1 in the standard version, and as fitted to Megane Renaultsport 250, Dunlop Sport Maxx TT 225/40 ZR18 tyres, 296mm-diameter ventilated front discs and uprated master-cylinder.

Renault has sold 22 Megane CCs this year, taking a 0.7 per cent share of the coupe/convertible market, compared with 215 sales (6.5 per cent) for the Volkswagen Eos.

Mr Koening acknowledged it would be difficult for the Megane CC to match the popularity of the Volkswagen Eos given the German company’s broad sales network, but he believed that given the nature of the style-conscious convertible segment, the fresh look and features of the Megane CC would provide Renault with a boost in sales numbers over the existing Megane CC.

Renault sales in Australia are down 1.3 per cent to 665 vehicles to the end of April, while its share of the market is running at 0.2 per cent.

Mr Koenig expects the new models arriving this year will provide a solid boost to sales, and the dealer network will need fleshing out to meet the demand.

“We are looking at expanding our network – a slow and steady approach,” he said, adding that he recognised Renault needed improved dealership coverage in key areas such as Parramatta in Sydney and Melbourne’s Preston, both areas having lost Renault dealers in the GFC shake-out.

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