This dogís life

A death in the family sees the Megane doing more than it was born for

BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

CARS, of course, are much more than transport. Unexpectedly, during month two, our Megane GT also became an instrument of change, reflection and even solace.

Up until then, the French wagonís combination of performance, handling and sophistication had surprised and delighted.

Still does. A happy and charming addition to family life. It still is.

Sadly, however, our beloved Labrador Retriever Romy died early one September morning, in my partnerís arms from agerelated illness. She was 13. I was in Europe on a work assignment when I received the dreaded Skype call. Her tail wagged feebly in acknowledgement as distraught words sobbed out of my mouth from across the world. And then, in an instant, she slipped away. Our sense of loss is profound.

Qantas ensured I was home as soon as possible, and the following weeks were a blur of tears and heartache. I donít know how we would have managed but for the love and support of family and friends.

Thatís life I guess.

We eventually decided to clear a lifetimeís worth of Romyís gear, which led to a spring clean that was a decade in the making.

Nothing like starting afresh.

As this is a long-term car report and not a therapistís couch, I should report here the Megane shone as a wagon, carting loads of clothing, small furniture, kitchenware, books and other items like it was designed to. A wide aperture, low flat floor with the rear seats folded (via a handy quick-release lever) and an uncomplicated luggage cover helped.

We thought a van would be necessary for the many trips to the Pet Rescue op shop or tip, but only a pair of drawers wouldnít fit.

The Renault also stepped up in another way, when being at home alone during the daytime (as a freelancer) proved too sad. Feeling snugly located in the heavily bolstered driverís seat and with the volume turned up, I welcomed the GTís kick-ass sound system with its simple song selection set-up, finding random, lovely, wistful comfort in tunes from Luluc, Arcade Fire, Alex the Astronaut and LCD Soundsystem.

It was a soothing, cocooning world in which to grieve, and provided a fresh appreciation for my sporty Euro wagon. And more importantly a reminder of what really matters. RIP, our little hairy daughter.

A walk in the (auto) park

In the decade or so since automatic parking systems started popping up, itís a surprise to experience the Meganeís as the best, both for placement accuracy and consistency. To date, not a botched angle nor scratched rim to report. Fingers crossed.

And still on unexpected pleasures, once in park, the stop/start activates so you donít have to press the ignition off. You simply get out and then the car automatically locks (via audible as well as visual alerts). Minor but very convenient.

RENAULT MEGANE GT WAGON

Date acquired: July 2017 Price as tested: $41,580 This month: 971km @ 7.8L/100km Overall: 2959km @ 7.8L/100km 34 3 3 WEEK 8 34 44 3 0 0 4 2 0 5 3 URBAN COUNTRY SPORTS FAMILY MOTORWAY

NOT CRUISINí

Centre console switch placement means elbows are prone to turning the cruise control off.

Why put it there?