THE proverbial Full House has always been a hand of cards guaranteed to put a self-satisfied smile on the face of the most hardened poker player.
Now, we have to hand it to RENAULT as the ace French carmaker moves ever nearer to completing its own Grand Slam by upping its Megane range to a sextet in under 12 months.
At the beginning of last year, Megane II arrived in the UK marketplace in Hatchback and Sports Hatch form, bringing the funky, “hey, what’s that look?” factor to the supermini sector.
Having followed this with the new Scenic, which arrives in UK showrooms later this month, RENAULT is now set to introduce another trio of derivatives in November to delight fans of the family Megane. Waiting in the wings are the Sport Tourer, Sport Saloon and the Coupe Cabriolet (CC).
And, as they say, there’s more. Next year the seven-seater Grand Scenic will complete the Megane full house. Sitting on RENAULT’s new long wheelbase platform it will fulfil the French company’s objective of catering for all needs and tastes with no fewer than seven derivatives.
Come November, the long wheelbase platform will make its UK debut supporting the Magane Sport Tourer and the Sport Saloon. The Tourer is RENAULT’s first estate car venture in the compact car class in the UK since the RENAULT 12 back in the Seventies, while the Sport Saloon will join a current growth sector in the marketplace.
Both are comfortable and practical vehicles, full use having been made of the longer wheelbase and extended rear overhangs, providing a cabin which is a nice place to be, particularly on the long haul.
Each of them more than justifies RENAULT’s claim of class-leading room cabinside with rear seat legroom being sufficient to satsify most people’s requirements in both Tourer and Saloon variants.
Load carrying, too, is accommodating although some may find the Tourer could have benefited from a more amenable loading aperture.
Both vehicles boast well-stacked trim levels, Expression, Dynamique and Privilege, all provide a generous helping of kit while the interior fabrics and plastics have that quality feel to them.
The Sport Tourer and Sport Saloon offer a quartet of engine options, petrol power coming courtesy of a 1.4-litre 16 valver and 1.6 VVT with diesel urge provided by 1.5-litre and 1.9-litre power units.
Both cars do their roadway work well, with the chassis set-up and variable-assistance power steering contributing to precise control, while ABS braking with brake assist, tyre pressure monitoring system and larger sized brake discs and callipers are on hand to provide safe stopping when required.
Prices range from £12,100 to £16,300 for the Sport Saloon, with the Sport Tourer weighing in from £12,350 to £16,550. But, if budget motoring is not an issue, then the real star of the November launch will be the New Megane Coupe Cabriolet.
The Megane CC has a head start over its rivals in the let-there-be-light stakes, the all-glass roof providing a highly illuminating interior, before being called upon to perform its party tricks.
The hinged, folding glass roof is a first in the cabrio field and this clever piece of kit will, at the press of a button, automatically expose you to the elements in no time at all, taking just 22 seconds to reveal all or to return the car to its attractive coupe state.
However, on the downside, things are a little tight for passengers in the rear seats, and, with top down, they will have to travel light as boot space is reduced by around 50 per cent when the glass roof stows itself away, leaving just sufficient room for a couple of medium sized suitcases in the boot.
Unlike some of the genre, it handles in confident style on its specially firmed-up chassis, which combines well with additional torsional stiffness, and the only vibrations are the good ones coming from the sound system.
Wind baffling, too, is well sorted when on the move with the top down. I managed to keep my hat firmly in place during the driving exercise, which hasn’t always been the case in others of the genre.
There are three engine options to power the Megane Coupe Cabrio, two petrol, a 115bhp 1.6 VVT and 136bhp 2.0 VVT, but the real star of this particular show is the 1.9dCi.
Mated to a six-speed manual gearbox, the diesel power source provides plenty of mid range muscle while performing in an extremely quiet and refined manner, capable of taking you out of the blocks to 60mph in 10.9 seconds, en route to a top speed, where legally allowable, of 124mph.
On the road prices for the Megane Coupe Cabriolet range from £16,500 to £20,200 and this hugely attractive looker with performance to match should quickly make its presence felt on UK roadways.
The penultimate piece in RENAULT’s jigsaw before the Grand Scenic puts them in seventh heaven next year and completes the full house for the family Megane.
More Renault Megane Information