Size, space and plenty of specs make this a surefire winner for fans of classic saloons
First drive in Warsaw: Renault Megane Grand Coupe
Renault are calling it the Megane Grand Coupe but to you and I it is a saloon version of the 5dr hatchback and replaces the Fluence.
Call it what you will, the new saloon/coupe will be a definite starter for the January sales.
I have no exact price or spec list for you yet but the Fluence it replaces has a starting tag of €21,990 for the 110bhp version (€24,890 for the top-of-range model). So is it fair to assume somewhere north of the €22,000 mark? I'd say so.
There will be just the two diesels: the 1.5-litre dCi 110 (110bhp, 3.7l/100km, 95g/km, road tax €180) and dCi 130 (130bhp, 4l/100km, 103g/km road tax €190). The smaller engine versions will have a 6spd manual and/or the new automatic EDC transmission with just manual for the dCi130.
But the burning question, of course, is why would you'd buy a saloon when everyone is chasing a Crossover?
Renault insist there is good demand (though the UK is not taking this new saloon). I suppose there are enough people still out there who simply like/want a saloon, have had one for years and it suits them (taxi drivers included).
On that basis, the main reasons to consider this are size and space. It is much longer than the hatchback, rear room is up 37mm; there is better head and elbow room and a large boot 520-litre (1,084mm load length; 1,293mm wide). That is 20 litres more than the Fluence but 40 short of the Skoda Octavia.
The overall 4.63m length and 1.81m width (2.71m wheelbase) provide for the space that saloon buyers prize so much.
In terms of looks, it is okay but I wouldn't get madly excited about it. There are no outstanding dynamic styling advances as such but who says it should have? It's not an SUV where such considerations matter so much.
The saloon draws heavily on the Espace and Talisman (Laguna successor - neither of which is on sale in Ireland) for its underpinnings - and for its seats, which were excellent in our test drive.
The cabin is large. There was loads of room for me at the back too but visually the interior is dominated by the centre-dash TFT 7ins colour screen through which all the action passes.
Connectivity comes through the R-Link 2 interface though smartphone replication will not come with the initial cars. R-LINK 2 is a control centre that manages multimedia, radio, Multi-Sense, navigation, telephone, driving aids etc. Higher-end later versions have R-LINK 2 with a 7ins landscape or 8.7-inch portrait format.
The Multi-sense system lets you pick different driving settings - Neutral, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Perso - which affects response, gear-shift timing etc.
We gave both diesel versions a good old drive in and around the general Warsaw area last week and while there was a gap in pep between the two engines there was more than enough in the 110bhp for everyday driving.
This is a saloon, remember, not a snorting Grand Coupe as we might imagine that term to be.
Obviously it shares a lot with the 5dr hatch so there isn't much new to report on from the cabin. And like it, there are lots of driver and driving assistance systems across the different trim levels.
In a nutshell is it a big, comfortable saloon with a decent spread of spec and plenty of room.
It is so easy to lose sight of the fact that people just want a decent-looking saloon that gives them what they want.