My first car was a Mk2 Ford Fiesta, which never let me down once in the year I owned it.
For the past three years, I had a Peugeot 306, which despite doing a massive mileage, it never let me down, apart from consumables like tyres and battery.
I've always loved Renault design - Patrick Le Quement is a genius! I wanted a Megane II hatchback as soon as it was launched, but seeing so many people now driving Coupe Cabriolets, I knew I'd really regret buying a common-or-garden hatchback, and so decided the CC version of Megane was for me.
I test drove the 1.6 petrol model at a couple of dealers, and found it to be a little underpowered as the motoring press reported. Although any increase on my 70bhp Peugeot was going to be welcome, I didn't want to spend that kind of money on something that was going to prove to be just as sluggish at overtaking. I tried the 1.9 turbo diesel at another dealer in a pre-facelift car, and it had just the type of nip I wanted. The car isn't an out and out sports car, but doesn't feel much less nimble than my 306 (a model renowned for its ride and handling), especially given the massive weight increase.
I had a mixed experience at Renault dealers. My local garage didn't seem interested in doing any sort of deal, nor did they return phone calls or seem to be that bothered about making a sale, despite me more or less offering cash there and then. Madness! Other dealers were more helpful and had reasonable deals, but only on 1.6 cars, or pre-facelift models or the wrong colour etc. Build time on a new model from Renault was several weeks, and couldn't be guaranteed for the time I went back to university, so I shopped on the Internet. Like another writer in this section, I bought from MotorProvider, based in Sheffield. The car cost me £16,100 including an upgrade to 17" alloy wheels and black metallic paint. This was a saving of over £5000 on the UK list price, and over a thousand below the WhatCar? Target Price. The vehicle is a parallel import from Europe, which just means that MotorProvider have imported a car from Renault in France that would otherwise come to the UK through a normal dealer. Thus, it's no different to any car you'd find on your local forecourt. All Renaults registered in the UK get 3 years' warranty honoured by Renault UK, so touch wood, if something goes wrong, there won't be a problem getting it fixed.
The mark I gave for dealer service above is both based on the mixed attitudes of Renault main dealers, and also that the actual purchase of my new car wasn't totally smooth running. Fair play to MotorProvider, the estimated two weeks wait for the car from the date of order was actually just 9 days, and pre-collection queries and the actual collection was hassle free and a pleasant experience with friendly staff. The only gripe was that the upgraded alloys I ordered were damaged in transit, and thus had to be shipped back to France and new ones ordered while I took delivery of the car wearing the standard 16's. I'm due to have wheels fitted this coming week after waiting two months (fingers crossed). The only other minor issue was that the tyre repair sealant canisters were missing from the boot kit when I got the car, but new ones were posted out to me within two days.
Otherwise, the car has been a joy to own. I have caused a very small scuff on the side skirt behind the front wheel, but as it's plastic it won't corrode and you have to get right down on your knees to see it (damn country lanes and their tarmac!) A touch up with repair paint will solve it when the weather dries up.
The exterior styling on the car is fantastic. I'm glad I stuck out for a face-lifted model because the new plunging grille section and larger Renault badge, as well as deeper air intake give the car a much more aggressive face, and it appears lower to the road. Little touches like new wheel designs and the new "RENAULT" word badge on the boot help it stand out too. Inside, the upgrades to the cabin include new carbon trim, additional mock aluminium detailing on the grab handles, air vents and glove box - all of which give improved perceived quality and make the car appear sportier. The seats are soft but supportive, and have infinite adjustments. Rear seat space is acceptable: I am 5'10" tall, and sitting in a low slung 'leaned back' driving position, there is just enough room for me to sit behind my drivers seat. Thus, you can probably fit four average sized adults quite comfortably. Unlike the Peugeot 206CC, Nissan Micra C+C and their ilk, you can actually get adults into the rear seats!
The roof is amazing, and operates smoothly and without any glitches. My only irritation is that the one touch windows only work going down. I wish Renault had considered making one-touch up functions too. It's a pain sitting there with your finger on the control before turning the engine off.
Stereo is excellent for a factory fit standard affair, and the air con is acceptably cold, though I have used much more effective systems in other cars. Still, in hot weather you have the roof down, so it kinda makes air con redundant.
Assuming I have my wheels fitted this week, I'll be an even happier boy! Oh, and whether you're a poser or not, there's nothing like driving through town and seeing everyone stop and turn round to look at the car. It really is a very stunning car with the roof down - moreso that other CCs of a similar size. Its comparative rarity also makes it worthy of admiration. It's quite uplifting to see people walking down the street and trying to subtly turn their heads back to look again!