Summers on the way and if the amount of friends asking me which is the best convertible to buy is anything to go by, I’m a very popular person at the moment. Instead of dashing across the country in search of our featured car, this week I’m helping someone actually buy one. There’s such a wide variety when it comes down to what people actually want in a car and this is especially true when it comes to a convertible. Most people start with something like a BMW but when it gets down to the price, the classier cabriolets suddenly get crossed off the list and that was exactly the case when a good friend of mine asked for my help in finding her a convertible. As I said in our last edition there are so many regular and plain hatches that have had the chop and suddenly become potential buys that it’s actually harder to pick the right one than people might think.
How can I put this: The requirements for a female buyer are a lot harder to fulfil than the average red blooded male and convertibles are an absolute mine-field. The trouble was the budget available just couldn’t stretch to a number of the exclusive badges earmarked. With £5,000 to spend the BMW’s and Audi A4’s she had set her heart on, and a very nice Mercedes E-class I saw in the local paper, didn’t make it. Most couldn’t fit her requirements as she needed something practical and also with four seats for the kids. Speaking of which anything under £10K normally warrants two tiny seats that can barely accommodate a packet of digestives.
Having spent the weekend traipsing the dealers with no positive leads we started hunting on the internet. That’s when I suggested the Renault Megane CC. What’s interesting about the first Megane convertible is that quite a few are still more expensive to buy than high mileage CC’s and this just goes to show that you need to have a good poke around the internet. The thought of a diesel cabriolet didn’t go down well at first either, but after two hours and a dismayed friend, we looked back at the only Megane CC (diesel) within the £5,000 price range. The trader was unfortunately based near Tyneside which would mean a five hour drive to get and see it, but having spoken to him at length and asked him to email more pictures of the car; we agreed to meet half way. Although he told me he’d had some interest, he admitted most had been put off by a damaged rear bumper which had been badly scuffed in a car park. That didn’t go down too well but knowing that it could be repaired still within budget a slightly apprehensive buyer and I set off north.
This particular Megane CC was a metallic black ’54 plate, 1.9dci with light beige leather and 83,000 miles on the clock. The Renault main dealer stamps had stopped at 40,000 miles in the service book, but with 3 owners to its name I still felt pretty confident that this could be a real bargain, especially as it was up for £4,695. This wasn’t your typical viewing and meeting up at a service station car park is not something I wouldn’t normally recommend because of my experience but I went ahead with the meeting anyway and overall, this Megane wasn’t a bad car. The bodywork needed a good polish to remove the light scratches and take away its dull look, and that damaged bumper only needed about £100 worth of paint repair. The interior also needed a good clean, but underneath it all it had real potential. I could see that my friend wasn’t excited but we went for a drive anyway.
Renault’s 1.9dci engine isn’t really a performance motor, but it still drove exceptionally well with no signs of any rattles or black smoke. I couldn’t hear any untoward knocking noises from the suspension and the gearbox (not Renault’s strong point) hit every ratio without a nasty crunch. We covered about twenty miles on our test drive and having checked the roof to make sure it folded away neatly without getting jammed, my friend still seemed uninspired.
The trader was keen to do a deal (no surprises there) and with one final thorough look over (yes, I did bring my portable jack and tools and performed an RAC-style inspection) it seemed genuine. I persuaded her to go ahead and promised that after a bit of TLC it would look like a different car.
All deals start with a price and I went straight in at £4,000, a fair offer seeing as it needed £100 spent on the bumper and at least a day with a bucket, sponge and a bottle of polish. As expected the trader said no and came back with £4,350. I knew that we could get it for £4,000 so we haggled some more. Seeing as we’d been to the bank and had the cash he saw a sale and gave in – so much for a long and drawn out deal. With a £690 discount, paperwork in order and a tank of diesel we left with a new car and he rang for a taxi. Two days later, with lots of hard graft and a repaired bumper her new Megane really did look like a different car. In total we spent £110 on the bumper repair and another £100 on a professional valeter (thanks to Steve at Ultimate Detail) who totally transformed the tired looking CC. The unveiling looked promising. It felt like an episode of Pimp My Ride as a very surprised person almost fell over with shock. She couldn’t believe how different it looked. The bodywork was scratch free and had a mirror smooth, deep lustre, the grubby beige leather looked and felt fresh again whilst Steve had also cleaned the engine bay. This was one happy new owner.
From being really unsure to thanking me every five seconds was a pleasing outcome, it was clear I had found her a car that fitted the bill perfectly. It may just be a Renault to some but the Megane CC is (almost) a proper four-seater , definitely practical with a large boot even with the roof stored, very inexpensive to run and during the winter months can still be used an everyday car. Mercedes may have started a trend with the metal folding roof but it has made convertibles, or Coupe Convertible (CC) as
they’re known, more accessible to own and more practical to use.
This weeks’ BOTW may not have been as straight forward as previous editions but it has certainly been an experience. Even though we picked a car that needed a little attention, by doing your homework before hand, knowing how much you need to spend on those repairs, trying to find something too perfect may not always be the right decision.
With that in mind it’s off again in search for a not so perfect ‘Summer BOTW’.
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