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Thursday 20th December 2012


PH BLOG: BACK IN THE SADDLE

Life without a licence is tiresome - time to beg a favour or two


As many of you will know I'm currently an editor sans driving licence. Which is a bit of a bummer. For me at least. Alex is loving it and making hay with a parade of press cars as I sit twiddling my thumbs on the subs bench.

Which pedal does what then? Time to RTFM
Which pedal does what then? Time to RTFM
Especially gutting was the arrival of the Megane 265 Cup I specced earlier in the year and now can't actually drive. Or so I thought...

There are two schools of thought with this non driving thing. One person I spoke with who's been through it said he didn't want to touch a car for the year and made a point of not even sitting in the driving seat, building up to that big moment when he'd be able to drive again. And he said it was a more special experience for it.

Impressive. But I don't have that kind of patience.

So an opportunity to drive something spicy at Blyton Park with a vague Renaultsport link (to be revealed shortly) had me plotting and scheming. A chat with Richard at Blyton had him, given the specific circumstances, willing to let me out. And the owners of the cars were cool with it. Looked like I had myself a drive.

Shall I take it easy to begin with? Nah...
Shall I take it easy to begin with? Nah...
So how was it? Well, you can watch the video if you'd like and judge for yourself! Other than some slow speed manoeuvring around the car park for some photos the other day the footage shows the first time I've been behind the wheel of a car since early September. Which is a bit mad. I expected it to feel a bit odd. And for the first few hundred yards it was.

And then it wasn't and it was like I'd never been away. Sure, I was probably a little timid. Probably no bad thing, all's said. But the Megane's a willing partner and gave me bags of confidence right from the off. What a great car that is too. I didn't muck about with the Renaultsport Monitor throttle maps too much but the diff is super aggressive and proactively finds traction a purely reactive electronic 'eLSD' simply can't replicate. Sure, ESP-based systems do a decent job of taming understeer in powerful FWD cars. But a proper LSD like the Megane's turns a hot hatch into a proper weapon in greasy conditions like we had yesterday, something I experienced a couple of years back with an R26 in torrential conditions at the 'ring. Porsche-owning friends who'd parked up and given up for the day were astonished when I took them round in the Megane, squealing "you shouldn't be able to do THAT!" in wide-eyed amazement at the places it found traction.

Megane awesome at a wintry Blyton Park
Megane awesome at a wintry Blyton Park
There's a lot more to come from this car and I hope I get a chance to experience it before it goes back but that first taste was inspiring and lifted my mood immeasurably.

It still feels weird pacing round to the passenger side for the drive home. And I salute the more purist approach of true abstinence. But it's not for me. And just a brief taste in the Megane has got me hungry for more!

Dan

 

Photos: Prime Exposures

Author: Dan Trent
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