Renault Megane Cabrio 1.6 Monaco 2008

Every year that great golden orb in the sky that we call the Sun comes out to play, the days get longer, the temperature goes up, the clothing comes off and summer is announced. Will Smith comes on the radio to lull you into believing its “summer, Summer, Summer time”. Everyone’s need for outdoor activities increases, dogs get to crap further away from home, young kids leave their avatar in the bedroom and come blinking into the sunlight asking “what is it Mammy?” and the answer is “Get out and play!”

It’s also the time of year when you might think of getting a tin opener to the roof of your car so you can catch some more sunshine while you drive, well you don’t have to. There is a huge selection of convertibles out there to choose from; almost every manufacturer makes a convertible version of one car or another. But today, on this bright sunny day my local friendly dealer had a Renault Megane CC out front so I just had to have a go.

It’s not that long ago a convertible had to be a sports car; most of them had two seats, totally impractical and very expensive. They were the kind of car you only saw on the TV; the driver had to have a flat cap and tweed jacket. Leaky roof’s, rain and people shredding the vinyl on the way home from the pub were just a few of the problems. Renault set to change that with the Megane CC, it was among the first to get a folding hard top roof, this was set to be the best of both worlds, a hard top car for winter that opens up for the summer. This was to be an affordable 4 seat hard top convertible, ok I know there isn’t exactly 4 seats in the Megane; the two adults in the back would have to have removable legs, nonetheless there are seats in the back that kids could sit in. The Megane CC is one of the prettiest of the convertibles; from the back it’s far nicer than Peugeot’s 307 and equally as nice as the Focus CC. In coupe mode with the roof up it looks like a Megane saloon with a big bottom, it’s a bit longer at the back to accommodate that glass roof and all the machinery required to fold it away. The boot space is only 190ltr with the roof up, and with the roof down it’s all but inaccessible but these cars are made for style not practicality.

Renault promised to improve their fit and finish and that promise holds true for the interior, everything feels solid and the materials used are good quality. There’s a good air conditioning system and that’s very much-needed with the glass roof up on a sunny day. On the road it’s quiet and soft over the bumps, at cruising speed there’s very little wind noise and Renault have done a good job keeping the engine noise down, even out on the motorway. Back in the town, where this car is at home, it was just like a normal Megane, soft over the speed bumps. The 1.6 110bhp engine does a good job tootling around, the rear window is a little small and with the size of the boot it can be a bit of a job to park, enough of this normal car mode it’s time to drop the roof and catch some rays.

In convertible mode the whole feeling of the car changes, you want to drive everywhere at 10kph, there’s a great novelty to being outside while driving a car. The driving dynamic changes too, the rear of the car feels heavier and there’s a little scuttle shake when you corner. At town speeds with all the windows down the breeze is light, but once you pick up a little speed you need to put the windows up or risk having your hair torn off. Obviously with the roof down parking is a doddle, putting the roof up in a public place never fails to attract a crowd. There’s some admiring looks when you drive around with it down too. All convertibles have something cool about them, even if it is a Renault. There are some flaws, namely the tiny boot, small back seat and poor visibility out the back with the roof up. But these pale into insignificance when the sun shines, the roof comes down, Will Smith sings and the sky becomes the limit of your head room, it’s fantastic.

The car I drove is available from Portlaoise Kia garage, you can see it on Carzone, have a drive on a sunny day, you’ll see what I mean.