Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mégane Renaultsport 250 Cup – You've just messed up my mind!

Judging from many months of sabbatical leave of absentees here, some of you might have thought that this blog is going to rot in the hosting facility. Well, while I can’t deny it has gotten rusty around the edges and I can’t help but to use cliché excuse of work commitments which partly comes with a hell of a nightmare in getting ArcGIS software to work in an clustered Solaris zone which I would say the OS behaving like an 100 year old senile old man. And for a fact, I’m still working to sort it out …. with a sledgehammer soon!

Having slept last night at 4.00 am and woke up at 6.30 am (to send wifey for hemodialysis treatment), it’s almost like ordinary F1 GP live telecast time. That’s just not enough time at to have a short dreaming exercise. Radioactively speaking, this has somehow short circuited my daily SOP whereby for the first time in my life, I had a big mug-sized brewed black coffee in PMC to stay up which I haven’t had any before. And I also just had a different perception on a car I initially thought as overhyped. And my fellow blogger Azmir’s latest posting does pour something in the caffeine that stimulates me in getting interested in asking for a test drive.

And because PMC was nearer to PJ, on the way home, I told wifey that I want to take a slight detour to PJ to stroll back some memory lanes with an intention of dropping by a place carrying an address of No. 5 Jalan Semangat. The Renault showroom. Upon walking to the showroom, I was warmly greeted by a guy named Amos who brilliantly manages to make me feels at home in there even though I was donning a VW GTI t-shirt with French cars prejudice tattooed in my forehead. This I can explain.

You see, I’m coming from over the years witnesses pretty much of horror experiences from my relatives who own Frenchies among which:-
1) A clutch assembly decided to disintegrate itself from my uncle Citroen BX while I riding it to cross Johor-Singapore border.
2) The very same car has appetite in leaking its hydraulic suspension lines, any new replacement will only be leaking the following months after.
3) My grandpa’s then ancient Mk3 Cortina has better reliability than his another always sick Peugeot 305
who ends up staying at workshop than at home; and {the best of the lots}
4) My cousin’s Renault Mégane decided to auto pilot itself after cranking up the engine even the gear lever still at P. That was in UK.
Not that I’ve anything against Frenchies owners out there but hmm yeah, now you can see why I always stay away from it…….

Now however, the introduction of the new Mégane Renaultsport 250 Cup has started to get many chuckleheads throwing away Evos, Scubbies, Type Rs and GTIs for this striking and flowing hot hatch as their preferred sunday drive weapon of choice. And that has irked me a little considering from thick skull of mine, Frenchies comes with preloaded disintegration package for free of charge.

Gone by the days of the R26R was packaged with somewhat no holds barred, stripped out, anything other than air-cond being considered as luxury add-on with its sole party piece was all about thrills. Now, I feel Renault has modified the sporty Mégane’s angle of attack, nosed it a fraction towards the mainstream led by the mk6 Golf GTI, the hot hatch class seems intent on becoming all things to all drivers, with cars so polished that much of the texture has been worn away on concentrated Clorox formula inside out.

Sitting on my wish-list 6-way adjustable Recaro hugged seat with the engine on, I had to spend ¾ of an hour with Amos to understand how the electronic appliances, from radio, pedal cartography, digital gauge, g-nometer and main control console which resemblance a mini Gran Tourismo gadgetries of the CBR35. On the Godzilla, it’s ok but on the Frenchies, my gut feeling would say it ‘might’ just break after minutes driving out of the showroom. Again, I’ve let the prejudice got the ahead of me. But unlike the ubber reliable run-of-the-mill Golf GTI, this Megane has 6-speed manual box with mechanical LSD harnessing 250 odd horsepower from 4 potter 2.0 turbo engine upfront. A recipe that resembles a finely crafted mechanical watch which every tick gives a sense of bonding not some Playstation joystick.

Having said that, it’s a good thing that I can grasp how to alter throttle mapping from “Progressive” to the very “Extreme” on-the-fly before starting giving the car a good spanking towards Hartamas and back using E23 highway. To kick start this test drive session, I opted for “Linear” as I was told the delivery is ‘pretty brutal’. Check on that and next. The first impression upon getting the 18” matte black wheels rolling was the short-pressed clutch bites sharp and early; and the gearchange kind of stubborn to cog which some might struggles for balance a bit.

Going for ‘town’ drive towards Jalan Sultan Abu Bakar proved to be a little compromise. Having played back and forth from “Progressive” till “Sport” every hundreds of meters, the power delivery is very docile and very smooth with very much NA philosophy than outright forced fed stuff. And of course, typical French, on the rough surface and potholes, the Mégane is perhaps even more impressive. Never once being crude and frantic like typical JDMs and MCS, it soaks everything with 235/40/18 rubbers in its stride, utterly unruffled by quick progress. On the other hand, the clutch’s bite couple with the ‘need’ to swap cogs in between revs often might give daily driving especially on start-stop traffic something to think about. Nevertheless, those who’re used to aftermarket super single clutch will probably say it’s still a friendly puppy. 

With all that sober driving, the car stops at a traffic light junction besides Phileo Damansara with what separating me and E23 was less than 50 meters. Having ‘mastered’ the right hander scrolling technique, I opted for “Extreme” and began counting the moment to let it rip just a little bit.

Green pops up, immediately dumped the clutch, short shift to 2nd somewhere at 3k rpm, then only flat 2nd and 3rd at 4.5k rpm with gearchange started to show its true colour of giving satisfaction rowing through the cogs with precision but something has left me somewhat a little bit flabbergasted at first. Make no mistake this car is rapid and ubber responsive and smooth to an extend it doesn’t feel the G-excitement we normally get from force fed, in fact the meager chipped Polo GTI has more of that at midrange.

Decided to give another poke, I headed towards second part of the E23 towards Hartamas for another go. Flat 3rd till 5th, once you go past 4.5k all the way till 6.5k rpm, that’s where the 250 horsies comes to play ball nudging 200kmh on a short stretch before pestering after road hoggers. That’s what I call power! Combining with well stacked ratios of the 6-speeder, I’m not surprise if it can keep up with the 300bhp Focus RS at that range. So in terms of power, though not brilliant but that’s a check alright.

Moving on to dynamics, well honestly, I would prefer to have a nice flowing Ulu Yam to endorse but today’s session is good enough to note that it has most immediate, crispiest and very well weighted steering feel of all hot hatch I’ve ever driven yet. And even though it has close to 1400 kg of weight, going through rapid lane changes didn’t indicate it any heavier than the 1200 kg Pocong. To further add some spice, I flat it on a right hander just after Royal Selangor Club at 170ish, you know what, it just glided effortlessly and remains planted with a little bit of hint of its tail getting excited on slight liftoff courtesy of slower car going into the fast lane. If I want to be a bit more picky, I would say steering a little bit ‘numb’ at 15-20 deg of initial steering movement but then again so to all fwd cars. If this car were to let rip in Ulu Yam, it would be very very hard for many to keep up much less to overtake!

At this moment on, I’m left with a conclusion that no matter how much mods and fine-tuning on the Pocong’s suspension, it will never ever be as good as this Megane. And this has messed up my mind a little bit. Considering the price of RM228k which is steep I can deny, but given the ‘GT3’-like driving experience and mouthwatering pace on straights and curves, it make perfect sense for anyone having enough dough to buy this. Should I get one of these, it's going to don the colour of Oyster Grey with maybe the powder coating the wheels to bronze. Power upgrade might be inevitable and stock exhaust has got to be ‘upgraded’ for more rotty and pop character but suspension and brakes would stay stock. And I would name the car as Langsuir where unlike stock Polo hops in between, this car just serenely and goosebumply glides! :)

Sorry folks, I'm not being a fan of yellow. Oyster Grey is more stealthy!

The best place to look at this Megane imho


  1. Your german chick found out that you went for a date with the hot frenchy.. and all hell breaks loose.. lol.. now the pocong is about to commit suicide :P

  2. Ze Germans supposed to be heartless so I thought it's ok now waiting for the bloody bill to sink my magic card....aiyaaaa