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by Tim Beissmann

Updated 09/02/10 with comments from Renault Australia.

Full details of the new Renault Mégane Coupé-Cabriolet have been released weeks out from its debut at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, with the sixth iteration of the Mégane family promising practicality, elegance and driving thrills.

The CC’s headline act is its two-part, folding glass roof which ensures a brightly lit cabin and a spacious interior feel. It gets even more spacious in just 21 seconds with the 0.47 square metre roof (the largest in its segment) folding away at the touch of a button.

For top-down comfort the Mégane is fitted with a fixed glass wind deflector behind the back headrests and a removable mesh screen behind the front seats enabling draft-free driving up to 90km/h.

The redesign of the windscreen has shifted the header-rail 6cm further forward compared to the outgoing Mégane II Coupé-Cabriolet, making front seat entry and exit much more comfortable.

Other user-friendly features include the automatically closing and large capacity boot (417 litres with the roof up, 221 litres with the roof down), position memory for front seats after being tipped forward, hands free locking and starting and an automatic electric parking brake.

High-tech cabin equipment ranges from an Arkamys audio system with Plug&Music USB connectivity and Carminat TomTom navigation, to dual-zone climate control, directional bi-Xenon headlamps and a new colour-coded cruise control/speed limiter interface.

Adding to the driving experience is the new electric power steering system which Renault claims is more responsive and refined and offers more accurate feedback, MacPherson-type front suspension attached to a horned subframe for lateral rigidity three-times greater than the Mégane II, and an 80 percent increase in torsional rigidity of the bodyshell.

Six different engine options include three petrols (82kW and 97kW turbo with a six-speed manual, and 107kW with continuously variable transmission) and three diesels (82kW, 97kW and 119kW all with the six-speed manual). The 82kW diesel comes with the option of a dual-clutch automatic transmission for improved efficiency, making the CC the first Renault to use the gearbox.

Safety is also taken care of by the standard ESP with understeer control and the automatic pyrotechnic deployment of rollover hoops should sensors detect that a rollover is imminent

Manufactured alongside the Scénic and Grand Scénic at Renault’s Douai plant in France, sales of the new Mégane will begin throughout Europe in the second quarter of this year.

Renault Australia managing director, Rudi Koenig, said the Coupé-Cabriolet would be launched alongside the Mégane hatch and RenaultSport 250 coupe around the last quarter of 2010.

“The plan is it (the CC) will be petrol-only at first and CVT only. It will be a one-stop shop if you like, because the biggest part of that market is automatic petrol so we’re focusing on that as our point of difference,” he said.

Mr Koenig said further range expansions to include a diesel model would come later and be dependent on market acceptance of the petrol version.

In Australia, the CC had a difficult year in 2009, managing just 24 sales compared to 190 in 2008. Renault sold three for the first month this year, which, on a positive note, represented a 50 percent increase over January 2009’s two.

“Clearly we’ve dropped volume in the Mégane range because our product’s getting a bit long in the tooth and we will only have small volumes until we get the new products up and running.

“The second part of the year for us will have a lot of new product activity and that will obviously improve our sales position,” Mr Koenig said.