I never intended to buy a special car like this. It was a phone talk to one Renault
Club Praha member and he was just selling this car. After I had a test drive I have got
Taking the roof down and speeding about 110 km/h is simply irresistible.
Latest experience: driving the car on long distances in fall-winter, simply in
As I mention on different place, the car is equipped for cold weather very well. Its
insulated roof is even better against the cold than normal steel roof. Heated rear window
is also working well and heated seats - it is a fairy tale (btw, I read somewhere, that
heated seats can cause an impotence of men, so it may not be so nice:-).
This period of the year is also typical by more rain fall and strong winds. Rain is not a
problem again. Only one little problem: when you open the door, few drops can fall from
the roof on the front seat, if you do it more times, the seat can get quite wet...
Otherwise I did not notice any negative effect of the rain and cold on the roof or
passengers comfort. The wind is little different story. The car can be quite noisy if you
have got wind blowing from side. If it blows from right, something (roof?) starts whistle
on the left side of the car and vice versa. If the wind blows from front or back,
everything is o.k.
Regarding the tires, I strongly recommend to change for winter tires. Mainly because most
of the Cabrio owners are using wide tires (195/50 R15) and I have experience that these
can be very good for gliding not for riding. But be aware, that grip of winter tires, that
are much more narrow is worse! Much worse! This is more than equalized by the safety and
by the grip on snow and water.
To finish this article, I will quote from "Great book of Convertibles" I got
from my wife: 'There are some very good Cabrios, made in a way that makes them perfect
first car for the family like ... ... R19, Megane ...'
Worried about the winter and rain?
Well, the roof is not perfect. When you splash the car, some water may get inside (where
roof touches the front windows), driving at higher speed with the roof up can be little
noisy. The side windows do not copy the rubber sealing perfectly (I would love to
learn, if there is an easy way to do something with it), and the fabric creates some
aerodynamics noise of its own.
The biggest difference between cabrio and normal car comes on the bumpy road. Even if
stiffened cabrio lost some of its body stiffness with the hard roof. Car shakes, but you
do not notice it on good roads. On my trip from Prague to Munich, Prague was the last
place where this did not feel comfortable...
And do not worry, all this much more than just equalized by the ride with the roof
down. Winter is not a problem. Car has an insulated roof. It has something like
sleeping bag between outer and inner sheets. Rear plastic window is heated by fan, which
you can use as a hairdryer:-) For more details, read Outside.
Heating is very good and on top of that, car is equipped with heated seats!
Engine and Handling
R19 Cabrio were made with two different engines:
F7P - 1.8 16 valves, 135 HP
F3P - 1.8 ixxxxxxxx, 90 HP
I have got the latter one. It is not extremely strong engine. Given the weight of the
car, it could be stronger. But it is one of the few Renault engines, that has maximum
torque in low revs - 2750 rpm. It give this car quite good flexibility and pull at any
This car is normally equipped with "normal" tires 175/60 R14. Previous owner
of my car has changed wheels to 195/50 R15. They give the car much better grip in the
corners, very good braking, but do not add very much to the comfort. I also have feeling
that it does not add to the life of the shock absorbers. After some 70K, I will have to
change joints of absorbers with the chassis (about 300 DM in Czech Republic). Good news: I
only had to change silent blocks at the torsion stabilizer. It costs only about 30 DM.
Since then, I have to say, that car is much more comfortable than I ever thought!
I managed to slide in the car just once: on the wet road. I think that extra weight added
to strengthen the car little equalized the engine weight in front.
1. Fuel consumption is of course different for different engine types. I have got single point injection 1.8 with 65 (some write 66) kW = 90 HP. My long term average fuel consumption is about 8.1 l/100 km, which is very nice considering that I am driving all around the year and 1/3 of it with the roof down. Of course it varies with the driving style a lot. In the town, it goes up to 9.5 l/100 km, on highway (speed of 130 km/h) with the roof down, it is similar at 9.5 l/100 km. However when I was traveling to work by this car, on quiet roads mostly in rural parts, it went down to aboout 7-7.1 l/100 km. (I never got under 7 and I do not believe you can...) You can influence it a lot with your driving style, as this engine really pulls well from low revs and you do not have to turn it high (but you may want to - but engine does not enjoy it too much...)
2. Luggage space - it is very big in terms of volume, but quite small in terms of usability. The size is the same (if not bigger than in normal R19), it is spiltted into two parts... Door and hole into the "normal" part of the boot is very small so you can not put any big things through it. Also height of the boot is quite small. However, we have little child and we vere still transporting pram in the boot. We just had to take off the wheels and the top was on the front seat. If you need to transport more small things, and the roof is up, you can use the part of boot which is used for storing the folded roof. It is actually quite big, when we go for skiing, it can hold big back pack plus two pairs of skiing boots, plus some tiny things, like gloves, etc... Overall, it is not an ideal famly car, but we traveled with it in 3 people, packed with all we needed.
3. Rear seats: this is where the biggest surprise happens! It is as roomy as normal family car. R 19 Cabrio is built on chasis of 3 doors R 19, which was not short version like Megane Coupe. It is big and long car! Only difference is that it is limited to 4 people only, as back seats are more narrow, due to roof mechanism. But there is truly plenty of space for two people in back! From the comfort point of view, it is windy back there! But an ideal position for city sightseeing:-)
4. Roof: it can last for ever if you do not damage it. My car is 9 years old and I did not notice any marks of wear. It is still nice and black. It does not leak, insulates very well. Just be sure you do not take your car to car washm as it can damage the roof and mainly the rear plastic window. Be carefull you park it at safe places, as the rear window is often a big temptation for some people. For maintenance details, go to
page of Karmann to
Customer service, where they give some valuable advice how to take care of your car. The main thing that can go wrong is all windows and it's rubber sealings. As they get old, they probably shrink, windows mechanisms need some adjustments and it is very sensitive and difficult thing to do it properly. So rather look for new versions where the fron rubber sealing has little groove to take water away to the otside of the car. (Like Megane Cabrio has