French giant Renault has a strong track record in the open-air four-seater class. The previous-generation Mégane C-C proved a big hit, and one in 10 sales of the compact family model was a drop-top.
Sadly, the latest version didn’t quite hit the spot, with the entry-level diesel losing out to Audi’s fabric-roofed A3 Cabriolet in our test in Issue 1,128. So, can the new flagship GT Line restore
some pride – and return the C-C to the top of the podium?
Initial impressions aren’t great, as the Mégane can’t match the VW for head-turning appeal. Heavy flanks and a bulbous rear provide an ungainly look. GT trim adds a subtle bodykit and sporty 18-inch alloy wheels, while stowing the roof gives the car sleeker lines. Fortunately, there is none of this awkwardness inside, as the interior is carried over from the regular Mégane.
That means you benefit from the same attractively styled dash and decent-quality materials. Yet despite having a slightly longer wheelbase, the Renault offers slightly less rear legroom.
Lift the large tailgate and you’ll discover a generous 417-litre load bay, which shrinks to 211 litres when the roof is stowed. On both counts that’s more than in the Eos, although the C-C lacks its rival’s ski flap for long loads.
The Mégane’s metal folding roof is a simple three-piece set-up, and can be raised or lowered in around 24 seconds – three seconds faster than the VW’s.
As with its rival, the cabin is impressively free from buffeting when the top is lowered. Buyers wanting more protection from the elements can pay £155 for a removable wind deflector – that’s £100 less than the one for the Eos.
However, with the lid in place, there’s more wind and road noise, which damages the car’s long-distance credentials.
What the Mégane lacks in refinement it makes up for with performance. Its 158bhp 2.0-litre diesel packs a punch, especially in the mid-range. Thanks in part to shorter gearing, the Renault needed only 9.9 seconds to go from 50-70mph in sixth – that’s an incredible 5.6 seconds quicker than the Eos.
In the real world, this advantage is offset by the car’s sharp power delivery, which makes smooth progress harder, and the notchy action of its six-speed manual gearbox.
With a GT badge, you’d expect the Mégane to serve up sharp handling on a twisty road. And the precise steering and strong grip certainly boost agility, while the ride is more comfortable than the VW’s. But the considerable weight of the roof over the rear axle undermines the package; through fast corners, it induces a disconcerting pendulum effect.
High running costs further detract from the car’s appeal. With emissions of 175g/km and fuel returns of 34.7mpg, owners face bigger tax and fuel bills.
In its favour, the Renault is fast, generously equipped and competitively priced. Will this be enough for it to topple the VW?
Chart position: 2WHY: With its punchy engine and racy styling, the well equipped Mégane C-C GT promises to mix strong pace with open-air thrills.