21/10/2015

Renaultsport and Méganes continue to make the motoring media’s world go round…

The words ‘Mégane’ and ‘Trophy’ undoubtedly go together like cheese and pickle. It’s a winning combination that, it seems, the automotive media just can’t get enough of and which has given EVO and Autocar magazines yet more worthwhile column inches this past month.
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Firstly EVO’s Dickie Meaden – an excellent racer in his own right – used the 275 Trophy (two of them in fact) to see if Öhlins’ Road & Track suspension upgrade made a difference to the car’s performance while his Editor Nick Trott went to the man behind all of Renaultsport’s magnificent machines, Patrice Ratti, to see what the future holds…

Meaden’s assessment was immediate. On a typically fabulous North Welsh road “evo’s current favourite hot hatchback”, as he calls it, was able to soak up compressions and iron out lift-inducing crests that bit better with Öhlins fitted (importantly using Renaultsport’s recommended settings). Then on the undulating Anglesey circuit the Öhlins again do their talking on the track – again using Renaultsport settings, one minute 20.15 seconds for the standard car becomes 1m 20.75s which is a significant gain around the venue’s shorter 1.5-mile lap.

Trott, meanwhile, got “a breath of fresh air” when he interviewed Renaultsport Technologies Managing Director Ratti who explained the company’s decision (controversial in some quarters) to take the ‘dual clutch transmission’ (EDC) and automatic gearbox routes with its latest Clio 220 and Trophy variants.

In the article Ratti also lifts the lid on why Renaultsport’s models never fail to produce sensational chassis and suspension combinations. Using a chief designer who, with excellent driving credentials, can also test the cars hard is key. In fact such is the enthusiasm for Renaultsport models and a will to diversify that there is even a Renaultsport version of the Dacia Sandero on the cards for the South American market! Whether there is sufficient demand for a latest evolution of the Clio V6 or Sport Spider remains to be seen, however…

EVO’s fun with a Mégane Renaultsport doesn’t stop there. Road Test Editor Dan Prosser felt the need to put the 275 Trophy-R through its paces along with fellow Nurburgring front-wheel-drive lap record holders, SEAT’s Leon Cupra Ultimate Sub8 and Honda’s Civic Type-R – importantly in identical conditions and each time using the same driver (Prosser).

It’s an important comparison given the alleged vagaries surrounding at least one of those record claims, although the circuit used for the test – Bedford Autodrome – couldn’t be much more different to the German track. The 275 Trophy-R clearly had the beating of its rivals when it came to cornering and “is the most exciting car here” states Prosser in his summing up. We’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions…

Finally, after six months, weekly read Autocar had to say ‘bye bye’ to its loaned Trophy but road tester Nic Cackett is already looking forward to its replacement, the Cup S. “It keeps the uprated power and upgraded chassis,” he reports, “and, more importantly, starts at £23,935, compared with £30,820 for the equivalent Golf R – giving me 6885 reasons to remain rooted in the Mégane’s corner.”