Fleet News

Renault Megane CC & saloon & tourer

Renault

Review

The round-rumped hatchbacks are to be joined by four-door and estate versions called Sport Saloon and Sport Tourer, boosting the range's fleet prospects, with up to 75% of the new variants expected to be bought by businesses.

Arriving at the same time will be a Megane Coupe-Cabriolet using a folding hard roof. It differs from the competition by having a glass overhead panel and there will also be a diesel.

The Sport Saloon and Sport Tourer have a longer wheelbase than the hatchback offering more legroom in the rear, and both have class-leading luggage space. Although the previous Megane was offered as a saloon, called the Classic, the estate was never offered in the UK, despite being available elsewhere.

Renault said the previous estate was launched at around the same time as the Scenic, and it mistakenly believed the UK market would be served by only having the hatchback and mini-MPV on the Megane.

However, the company believes the Sport Tourer will sell well, particularly among businesses, and its faith has already paid off with a leading customer ordering nearly 250 1.5 dCi models in advance of its November launch, even before driving the car. Their wheelbases have been extended by 61mm over the hatchback while boot volume in both is 520 litres with the rear seats in place – matching the best from the segment above. The estate's volume rises to 780 without the parcel shelf in place.

The Sport Saloon will have a comfort bias and its suspension settings have been adjusted accordingly, while the Sport Tourer shares its firmer set-up with the hatchback models.

Important news for diesel fans is the introduction of a torquier version of the 1.9 dCi engine, which will become available across the Megane range with the launch of the new variants providing an extra 22lb-ft at 2,000rpm, taking the maximum to 221lb-ft.

They will also welcome the news of a 140bhp variant of the 1.9 dCi due to arrive in 2004, which could also be seen in the Coupe-Cabriolet in the UK should enough customers demand it.

Meanwhile, a more powerful version of the 1.5 dCi – with 100bhp – will also join the Megane range next year.

The Coupe-Cabriolet (pictured below) will be offered in 1.6 and 2.0-litre petrol variants with a hot 165bhp 2.0T on the way.

However, the 1.9 dCi variant joins an exclusive club as only the third diesel convertible to arrive in UK showrooms, the previous members being the Audi A4 Cabriolet 2.5 TDI and the Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 1.9 TDI.

Renault believes 40% of its Coupe-Cabriolet sales across Europe will be diesel, although it will be very much an unknown quantity in the UK, slow as we are to embrace oil burners when compared with our continental cousins.

Renault says 80% of the Coupe-Cabriolet's components are unique, while the electric roof operation takes 22 seconds to go down or up.

When used as a coupe it offers an amazing 490 litres of boot volume, while with the roof folded there is a maximum of 190 litres – enough for a couple of small cases. About 3,000 Coupe-Cabriolets are expected to find homes in the UK during a full year, with 5,000 Sport Tourer and 3,000 saloons.

Fleets are expected to account for 65% of saloon sales and 75% of Sport Tourer sales, with diesel expected to make up about 70% of both models overall.

Behind the wheel

ARE car manufacturers responsible for the decline of the upper-medium sector? The reason I ask is that the Megane and the recently driven Mazda3 (Fleet NewsNet September 11) are enormous and, when you add in the factor that they cost less to run than the latest generation of lower-medium cars, they appear a more sensible option.

The Sport Saloon and Sport Tourer look more mainstream than the Megane hatchbacks with sensible rear ends and their luggage-carrying capacity will match anything the upper-medium sector has to offer, while the Sport Tourer offers an amazing amount of legroom and headroom. For front-seat occupants the story is similar to the hatchbacks – clear instruments and switches and hidden storage compartments around the cabin.

Despite extra weight compared with the hatchback, you can feel the effect of the extra 22lb-ft of torque in the 1.9 dCi with keen acceleration from about 1,500rpm. Like all Meganes the new variants are good to drive. The only real criticism is an inconsistent steering feel.

The 2.0-litre petrol engine was available to try in the Sport Saloon, and although the engine wasn't short of performance, it felt a little flat compared with the 1.9 dCi in the Tourer. Body roll is a little more pronounced than with other body styles, with the pay-off being a more compliant ride.

Using a folding hard top on a convertible was a stroke of genius for getting them on to fleets as it eliminates the security risk of a soft roof, and with choice lists broadening they are becoming more common.

The Megane Coupe-Cabriolet is one of the best-looking convertibles in its sector. The usual problems of scuttle-shake seem to be absent unless it is driven over serious bumps, and the whole car feels well built.

I drove 2.0-litre petrol and 1.9 dCi diesel models; the compromise of the extra low-down torque being the diesel clatter at low speeds. However, it is only noticeable when driving through narrow streets.

Roof down at higher speeds, it is no longer an issue as the wind takes over as the main source of noise in the cabin. The 1.9 dCi suits the laid-back nature of the Coupe-Cabriolet and the mid-range performance is more satisfying than the 2.0-litre model.

Driving verdict

THE new body styles being added to the Megane range allows Renault to cover all bases in the lower-medium sector. The Coupe-Cabriolet is just that – a coupe and a cabriolet, while the Sport Tourer and Sport Saloon offer impressive carrying ability and are good to drive.

Renault Megane saloon/tourer fact file
Model: 1.4 1.6 2.0 1.5dCi 1.9dCi
Engine (cc): 1,390 1,598 1,998 1,461 1,870
Max power (bhp/rpm): 97/6,000 113/6,000 134/5,500 79/4,000 118/4,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 94/3,750 112/4,200 141/3,750 136/2,000 221/2,000
Top speed (mph): 115/112 120/118 126/123 106/104 122/121
Transmission: 5-sp man, 4-sp auto and 6-sp man
0-62mph (secs): 12.7/13.1 11.1/11.3 9.4/9.7 14.5/14.9 10.7/10.8
Comb economy (mpg): 41.5/40.4 41.5/40.9 35.3/35.3 61.4/61.4 52.3/52.3
CO2 emissions (g/km):: 161/165 163/164 191/191 122/122 141/141
Service intervals (miles): 18,000
Fuel tank capacity (l/gal): 60/13.2
Luggage capacity (litres): 520/520-1,600
On sale: November
Prices (OTR): £12,100/£12,350 (saloon) - £16,100/£16,350 (Tourer)

Renault Megane coupe/cabriolet fact file
Model: 1.6 2.0 1.9dCI
Engine (cc): 1,598 1,998 1,870/td>
Max power (bhp/rpm): 113/6,000 134/5,500 118/4,000
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 112/4,200 141/3,750 221/2,000
Top speed (mph): 121 (116 auto) 127 (124) 124
Transmission: 5-sp man, 4-sp auto and 6-sp man
0-62mph (secs): 11.8 (13.6) 9.9 (11.5) 10.9
Comb economy (mpg): 40.9 (37.7) 34.4 (33.6) 51.4
CO2 emissions (g/km):: 164 (184) 196 (201) 146
Service intervals (miles): 18,000
Fuel tank capacity (l/gal): 60/13.2
Luggage capacity (litres): 190-470
On sale: November
Prices (OTR): £16,500-£20,000

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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