It's always been one of those 'down the pub' type of questions: how much faster could a road car be made to go if you fitted it with a set of slick tyres?

And would you even be able to drive it on slicks anyway, given how sensitive all the electronic systems are on modern road cars nowadays?

The answer is, yes you can, and the extra speed you can generate when doing so will most likely frazzle your mind. We proved as much when we went to the Motor Industry Research Association recently with a standard Rénaultsport Mégane 265 and a pile of various Avon tyres.

The Mégane normally comes with either Dunlop Sport Maxx or MichelinPilot Sport tyres fitted as standard, but to get a benchmark time I first drove it around the same handling circuit we use for our road tests on a set of Avon's tastiest high-performance road tyres, the ZZ5s (Avon's equivalent of a Pilot Sport, basically). 

The art of tyre testing is a black one, of course, but the key thing to achieve is a consistent set of lap times so that you know, with absolute certainty, that it's the tyre generating the lap time and not you being especially handy on one particular lap or corner. So only when you can lap within a couple of tenths of a second on three laps consecutively do you actually start measuring the data.