What’s in a name? When it comes to the hard sell, pretty much everything.
Steve Jobs stuck to his guns despite legal threats from the Beatles when choosing Apple. Richard Brandon was adamant when he chose Virgin.
It’s the first thing consumers look for. It has to be catchy (pronounceable helps), have some sort of meaning, evoke emotion, make people want to say it out load, resonate, and most importantly be memorable.
The great names always had that feelgood factor, created that sense of confidence, association and expectation.
Naming is where the marketing gurus earn their corn, with car companies going to great lengths, tapping into the most creative (and expensive) minds in search of that all elusive killer name.
In 1955, Ford famously turned to the modernist poet Marianne Moore to come up with a title for the company’s latest model.
This was after the marketing department has worked its way through 300 candidates who, the company executives felt, had all been affected by “embarrassing pedestrianism”.
In an attempt to be anything but pedestrian, Moore coughed up lots of creative suggestions — Intelligent Whale, Pastelogram, Mongoose Civique, Utopian Turtletop, Varsity Stroke — to name but a few.
Exacerbated, company executives shot them all down, choosing instead to call the ill-fated machine after Henry Ford’s son, Edsel. The rest, as they say, has gone down in the annals of the great corporate disasters.
Which is a rather long way of saying that a lot rides on what a car is called.
Renault decided to call its latest Mégane offering the Grand Coupé — despite it offering four doors as opposed to the regular two you’d associate with a coupé.
For all intents and purposes, the Grand Coupé is a saloon in all but name — and an attempt by Renault to muscle in on a very popular and lucrative segment.
It’s also a bigger, family-focussed, alternative to the popular Mégane hatchback and a replacement for the Fluence.
That sense of newness is very visible on the outside. It’s a very attractive package, the sharp, cut lines, in-take grilles, and wraparound lights, giving it a very modern feel.
For all the sense of newness on the outside, the interior looked slightly dated. The overall interior styling is a little ordinary — with the volume of plastic on show taking somewhat from the overall appeal.
Renault’s R Link system is styled on the iPad — the 7” touch screen dominating the digital dashboard and adding some welcome colour.
The lack of traditional dials takes a bit of getting used to, as does the sensitive nature of the screen, but once you get a feel for it and get used to navigating the menus, you do have the option of personalising the configuration which cuts down on time-wasting browsing.
Again with all the space promised by the Grand Coupé, the interior felt a little tight, with not a huge amount of elbow and legroom, particularly on the driver’s side.
It might be the layout, or just my long legs, but I kept catching my shin and knee on the centre console.
The back was a little more generous, with comfortable space for three children, but a little more challenging for three adults. There was plenty of space in the boot at 503 litres, with the wide opening making it easier lifting in and out.
The GC tester came equipped with a 1.6 litre diesel engine, which was efficient if not spectacular (320Nm of torque and a top speed of 198kph) and seemed a bit more at home in the higher gears.
It handled all the comings and goings of a busy family life (if a little hard on bumps) and made for comfortable cruising the few times I managed to escape the confines of the city centre to hit the motorway.
To be fair, Renault has not spared the spec, with an impressive array of technology on offer as standard including traffic sign recognition, lane departure warnings, keyless entry, blind spot alerts, an active braking system, and a reactive lighting system which automatically switches between main and dimmed beam.
Naming convention aside, the GC should prove popular with Irish audiences with a soft spot for mid-sized saloons.
It looks good on the outside, offers enough room to tempt most families, and includes an impressive range of technology as standard to tempt a few people away from the bigger sellers in the class.
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