PH Blog: back in the saddle

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!



Photos: Prime Exposures

Comments (25) Join the discussion on the forum

  • blearyeyedboy 23 Dec 2012

    After some medical treatment, there was a stint I couldn't drive for. I hated every second- the lack of driving fun, the lack of self-determination, the shame of asking my mum for a lift from time to time when I was 31 years old... It was utter ste.

    Getting behind the wheel of a car- any bloody car- was an enormous pleasure after too long of not being able to. Never mind a Renaultsport Megane on track, I'd have bitten your hand off for 5 minutes driving an Austin Maxi around a car park, honestly.

    Good on you, Dan.

    When I was better, I treated some friends who'd been ferrying me around to a Stunt Driving session. Nothing makes you feel you've recovered like a few J Turns. smile

    Edited by blearyeyedboy on Sunday 23 December 20:37

  • MycroftWard 21 Dec 2012

    I've been there and done the whole lose your licence thing, twice. Not recommended people, be good over the Xmas hol's! smile

    The Megane track action looks fun, need to do a track day soon.

  • matthewslt 20 Dec 2012

    Ive had my 265 for 3 weeks and have covered 2k miles. Running in took a week. Even if the engine doesnt need much in the way of running in the clutch and brakes certainly do. The clutch on mine was quite grabby at low speed at first and is now much more progressive.

  • roystinho 20 Dec 2012

    Is that the first drive of the 265 Mr el manno? Must be such a good feeling being able to get behind the wheel, albeit briefly.

  • Hoppelemine 20 Dec 2012

    ant leigh said:
    dukebox9reg said:
    framerateuk said:
    I did a trackday in mine after 1000 miles. The engine still felt pretty tight at that time. 2000 miles later I tracked it again and it felt a lot more free-revving. That said, the first trackday probably helped to loosen it up a bit!
    My car only has 300miles on the clock and I've had a few people say bedding in is a load of rubbish, you need to boot it from new to 'condition' the engine. I'm so tempted to open it up.
    I was told the 'Megane engines are factory run in and are designed for performance.
    You dont need to drive like an angel but dont just go out and screw the nuts off of it for the first 1000 miles or so.'
    Way off topic here, but traditional 'running in' on modern engines is not required. Clearly bouncing off the rev limiter leaving the showroom is not recomended, but I know from experience that it's more that likely that between them the dock worker, transporter driver, PDI technician, saleperson or valeter have already done that. Many owners handbooks now recommend that you shouldn't drive a significant distance at a constant speed, revs and gear for the first 1000 miles or so. Varying you speed is better to bed the engine (and gearbox) in evenly. Also remember that new tyres with tyre black all over the sidewalls have less grip than you might expect when on the limit.

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