Is anyone else mildly concerned by Steve Sutcliffe's first drive on the latest Renaultsport model, the Megane 250?
Sutters is a bit of a fast Renault nut; he ran our Megane R26 long-termer with such enthusiasm that barely anyone else in the office got to drive it, and he was a vocal supporter of the Clio 200 Cup at our most recent Handling Day. But while he gives the latest effort a guarded thumbs-up, he also seems to indicate that some of R26's joie de vivre has been sacrificed in the name of refinement.
Bugger that. Fast Renaults have not made a name for themselves through Golf GTI-esque interior finish and cruising refinement; they've been popular choices at Autocar over the years because they hang on for dear life around B-road corners and (generally) ride better on UK roads than most other hot hatchbacks. The most recent Clio in particular is a stunning piece of engineering, with a fabulous blend of sublime body control and compliant damping.
There are some reassuring elements to Sutters' review; he says torque steer has been eradicated completely (although I was always impressed at how little there was in the R26 anyway) and that the car is every bit as quick as the model it replaces. And of course, he's only driven it on Spanish roads.
But I'm more worried than I thought I'd be. Renaultsport should leave the battle to grow up to the mainstream Renault engineers tasked with robbing the Golf and Focus of half a percentage point of market share. The products coming out of Dieppe need to stay forever young.
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