Renault’s latest Megane Saloon is grand all right, but a coupé? We investigate.
The automotive landscape in the Republic of Ireland is broadly similar to that of the UK but there are, as one might expect, some exceptions. One of the notable ones, is a long-standing, if diminishing (according to my sources) preference for three volume saloons over hatchbacks. Of course, as Irish motorists increasingly follow their UK and European neighbours into crossover CUV’s, they’re discovering they’re being sold hatchbacks by stealth.
The marketer’s torchsong is proving difficult to resist then, but manufacturers continue to ply more traditional fare to those motorists as yet unmoved by the lure of the high-rider. The current Megane was launched last year and can be obtained in two flavours of five door hatchback; the standard model and the nominally larger ‘Sport Tourer’ version. It’s a sort of Scenic and Grand Scenic situation if you will, but you have to flog people a dream somehow, and as we all know, the word ‘sport’ is catnip to customers from Buncrana to Ballymore Eustace and everywhere in between. But where matters deviate from our increasingly isolationist UK cousins is that we are offered an additional model, the Megane Saloon or in Renault parlance, Grand Coupé.
Built at Renault’s Borsa plant in Turkey, the Megane Grand Coupé is sold in more than twenty countries Worldwide, including Australia; the latter most likely offering the only plausible rationale for making this model available here at all. According to AutoExpress, (who I of course believe implicitly), the Grand Coupé may come to the UK eventually, but lets be honest, the likelihood is remote in the extreme.
Ignoring nomenclature for a moment, the Grand Coupé is actually a fairly attractive, well proportioned saloon. Described by Renault a little clumsily as both ‘lively and elegant’ it’s notable for its Talisman in miniature appearance, so I suppose if you like that, you’ll probably feel pretty well intentioned towards this one. In latterday Renault fashion, it suffers from an excess of graphic tinsel strewn seemingly at will over both front and rear ends.
The DRL’s in particular have the sort of look only the Grace Jones’ of this world could pull off with any meaningful aplomb but these additions aside, its all reasonably well contained. One notable effect is the stamping in the c-pillar which provides a trompe l’oeil continuation to the DLO outline without recourse to one of those tacky plastic blanking finishers. I’m not convinced of the efficacy of this solution myself, but marks for effort I suppose.
Any other enhancements? Well, the boot’s larger – 503 litres versus 434 for the hatch, and is available (here) in two (diesel only) engine tunes with manual or automatic transmissions from £155 per month at 3% APR with 3 years servicing thrown in, and a five year warranty. So that’s grand.
But herein lies the problem. English words contain multiple meanings – (in Ireland, grand can mean large, opulent or simply good; (“Isn’t it grand weather today?”) Over-apply anything however and it loses impact. Virtually overnight, we seem unable to move for automotive grandeur. Similarly, it was once pretty clear what coupé stood for. Now it can mean anything from a three door hatch, a four door saloon to a fastback, jumped-up SUV. Soon everything will be grand. Or a coupé. Except it won’t, will it?