Even Renault people admit the current Megane is something of a Marmite car: you either love it or hate it. But that could be about to change as Renault reveals a replacement this autumn. Where does the Coupe Concept fit into that plan?
It gives an idea of what the current Megane’s successor will look like when a production version is unveiled at September’s Paris Motor Show. There will be an entire range of family cars including a hatch, estate and Scenic people carrier. But this showcases the range-topping coupe. Although Renault is hoping it’ll tempt buyers away from the new VW Scirocco
, in reality the Megane Coupe will be a slinky and sporty looking three door in the vein of Vauxhall’s Astra Sport Hatch. It looks different to the current Megane...
At first sight Renault seems to have totally abandoned the ‘bustle’ from today’s model. But on closer inspection the Coupe Concept’s rear is a progressive – if slightly toned down ‑ development of the current Megane. Following the awkward angles of the Megane 2, the rounded haunches of this car are a bit of a relief, although it’s still eye-catching with rear lights recessed into the haunches under the shoulder. And there's surely a hint of Alfa Romeo Brera in that pointy behind?
The front too is clearly related to the latest Laguna and Twingo. But without the bug-eyed headlamps, that large grille, cleverly contoured bonnet and recessed badge are infinitely more stylish. There’s a clever touch on the A-pillar too. It splits half way down enabling decent forward visibility while maintaining structural strength. Those doors look incredible!
Yes, before we hit the road in it, let’s divert briefly into the fantasy world of concept cars. This Megane concept has cameras in place of traditional door mirrors, a novel pull-out-and-lift-up boot lid that Renault has patented and doors that are a work of art. Called ‘dragonfly’ doors, they mimic the action of the insect's wings by splitting in two with the glassed area lifting separately from the door. It gives it the sort of ‘wow look at that’ you expect of a concept but certainly won’t be on the production car. The production model is also likely to retain the credit card sized ‘key’ of current cars. You access the Coupe Concept using a Samsung mobile phone which then plugs into the centre console and starts the car. It’s a neat idea but don’t hold your breath.Click 'Next' to read the final page of the Megane Coupe Concept first driveHow real are concept cars? Read the new May 2008 issue of CAR Magazine as Tim Pollard follows the Megane Coupe Concept from drawing board to its Geneva show debutThe inside of the Renault Megane Coupe Concept is also pretty wild...
Indeed it is, although if you can ignore the lacquered red plastic covering the seat shells, dash and centre console, it’s actually more conventional than it looks at first glance. There’s a single dial for the speedometer with a vertical rev counter on its left and a dial for the radio on the right. The modern-looking seats are surprisingly comfortable, but having the two rear seats mounted so high up gives back-seat passengers a better view at the expense of leg- and headroom. What about under the bonnet?
To go with its sporty looks Renault has given this car a 200bhp 2.0-litre engine. It certainly sounds the part but that’s because this is a concept car with none of the sound deadening niceties of a production model. However, although it was designed to look winsome on a motor show stand, it goes remarkably well. Built on a bespoke platform it replicates the dimensions of the forthcoming Megane and is longer than the current car. However, visibility is so good through the vast expanses of glass that you don’t feel the extra size. However its extra weight, particularly of the as yet undeveloped door mechanism, has an impact on overall agility. Verdict
After veering from the straight and narrow with more recent offerings such as the new Laguna, it looks as though Renault is back on track with its small family hatch. Forget that the Megane Coupe is dripping with innovation, far more crucially it looks the part of a sporty three-door. And you feel like you’re driving one too.
The seating position is low and high sides make you feel nicely cocooned. When it hits showrooms next spring, this should make the Megane a strong rival for the Astra’s three- and five-door combo, as well as the Golf and its new Scirocco sibling.How real are concept cars? Read the new May 2008 issue of CAR Magazine as Tim Pollard follows the Megane Coupe Concept from drawing board to its Geneva show debut