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RE: Renault Clio 172 Cup/Megane R26: PH Fleet

RE: Renault Clio 172 Cup/Megane R26: PH Fleet

Thursday 18th May

Renault Clio 172 Cup/Megane R26: PH Fleet

Belts sorted and exhaust upgraded, Ben's enjoying life with his newest Renault hot hatch



Each time I write a fleet update, I can't believe how quickly the weeks (or even months) have passed and how much has changed in such a short space of time. It's fair to say that the last three months have been just as busy and rewarding with my Renaultsport fleet, with both cars keeping me on my toes and lightening my wallet in the process. Whether money is spent enhancing or maintaining though, I find that both cars are easily forgiven for being so fantastic to drive.

Back to full health thanks to Mark Black
Back to full health thanks to Mark Black
I'll start off with the Megane, as that has been the most demanding of my time and money. Firstly, thanks to PHer 'HJMS123' for recommending Mark Black at Midlands Renault Specialists, as a trip to him saved me a small fortune. I had the common swivel bearing seizure, which I was anticipating at some point, so I booked myself in for a 360-mile round trip to get the bearings done; I had the belts replaced at the same time, in total saving me more than £500 compared to using local specialists in Kent.

That healthy saving paid for a shiny new Milltek exhaust system, which has made a nice addition both aesthetically and aurally. Despite being a non-resonated system, it's not much louder than standard (inside at least) when idling but picks up nicely and whooshes through the rev range. More importantly it doesn't boom or resonate on the motorway, which I wish I could say about the Clio. I'd been tempted to name the Megane Mickey Mouse with the amount of squeaks it had, but a can of lithium grease spray managed to rectify the noisy dash.

Alcantara makes all fast cars better, right?
Alcantara makes all fast cars better, right?
If I had to pick one thing that has impressed me most on the Megane, it would be the mechanical limited-slip differential. I've experienced the VW 'VAQ' system and most recently the brake nibbling traction control in my Mini GP, but it's the mechanical unit in the Megane that has impressed me most. So much so, in fact, that you have to allow extra room on the inside of a corner when turning in; the harder you accelerate into the corner, the harder the differential works to pull you into it and out the other side. It really is an incredible experience and one I won't be tiring of anytime soon!

Moving onto the little Clio, I must confess that I've barely driven it recently due to having a comfier car now to use on the road. I've picked up a cheap NB Mazda MX-5 1.8 for some summer motoring, so that's become my revvy fun car on the local country roads. I'm happy to say though that the Clio currently stands in third place in my class of the Javelin Trackdays Sprint Series, after the first two events at Snetterton and Blyton Park.

Uniroyals have replaced Avons for wet use
Uniroyals have replaced Avons for wet use
Following a damp outing at our Silverstone Sunday Service in March, I wasn't feeling comfortable with the Avon ZZS rubber I was running for my wet tyre, so I changed to a set of Uniroyal Rainsport 3s that a lot of track drivers rave about. Truth be told, I've had fun in the wet on track but I'm not particularly fast, which was apparent during a damp sprint at Blyton Park. With only one dry session in the morning, all of the pressure was on that run; the rain was coming in, so there was no chance of going faster. After I set my fastest time in the dry I just used the rest of my runs to get a feel for the tyres in the wet, which stood up well in the conditions.

Ben's shakin that ass and rather enjoying it!
Ben's shakin that ass and rather enjoying it!
Time will tell how well I can perform at a wet event, but driving in the rain in a competitive environment naturally adds more pressure than just being on a track day; it's a frustrating experience compared to being out in the dry, where I'm more confident to push harder. Otherwise I'm looking forward to trying out some new tracks this year; notably Cadwell Park in my sprint series, and Rockingham with Renaultsport.

Given how quickly I usually move on from one car to another, I'm quite impressed that I've been in Clios for two years now without a desire to change it for anything else. Saying that, I'm planning on parting ways with it later this year and combining funds with the yellow Renaultsport to get myself into the outgoing Megane in 250, 265 or 275 form. My ardent Renaultsport enthusiasm shows no signs of abating!


FACT SHEET
Car:
2002 Renault Clio 172 Cup
Run by: Ben Lowden
On fleet since: May 2016
Mileage: 35,238
Purchase price: £3,300
Last month at a glance: Not much doing with an MX-5 having arrived...

Previous reports:
Trophy out and Cup in as Ben changes Clios
Super Spa in Clio Cup!

Car: 2007 Renault Megane 230 F1 Edition
Run by: Ben Lowden
On fleet since: December 2016
Mileage: 76,351
Purchase price: £5,000
Last month at a glance: Megane man maths means more miles!

Previous reports:
Top banana! Ben adds another Renaultsport hot hatch to his fleet

[Lead photo: Michael Topham]

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

MissChief

Original Poster:

4,256 posts

87 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
I do love the Renault Liquid Yellow. So much nicer than the Ford yellow which has a touch too much of a mustard tinge.

culpz

1,631 posts

31 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
I do love the updates on this, being a fast Renault enthusiast. A great pair of cars to have. I can't wait to get myself into my first Renaultsport product, which will most likely be a 172 or a 182, which is long overdue!

Sad to hear that the 172 isn't being used much. But, then again, that's the issue with the Cup versions; they are fairly hardcore! I'd love something more raw and basic as a daily, but i think a normal one would be more on the cards. The loss of the creature comforts would also annoy me, i reckon.

Surprised at the potential change into a 250/265/275, given it would mean the loss of both cars to fund it, but they are fantastic motors. Still very fun and involving but a fair bit more grunt while being slightly more grown up. I'd be more than happy to have one as my only car!

HJMS123

796 posts

52 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
No problem Ben! Mark knows his way around Renault Sports like the back of his hand, the amount of time it took him to change my belts was insane considering the 'book estimates'. His labour charges are so competitive it makes the whole journey worth while .... not to mention the amount of smooth tarmac and roundabouts between the M1 and the garage biggrin

Mike1990

343 posts

50 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
Love R26's in LY! so so nice.

Regards to a proper Mechanical LSD i still can't get over how effective they work, really such a great party piece. The Drexler one in my Corsa still makes me giggle.

BenLowden

551 posts

96 months

PH Marketing Bloke

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
culpz said:
I do love the updates on this, being a fast Renault enthusiast. A great pair of cars to have. I can't wait to get myself into my first Renaultsport product, which will most likely be a 172 or a 182, which is long overdue!

Sad to hear that the 172 isn't being used much. But, then again, that's the issue with the Cup versions; they are fairly hardcore! I'd love something more raw and basic as a daily, but i think a normal one would be more on the cards. The loss of the creature comforts would also annoy me, i reckon.

Surprised at the potential change into a 250/265/275, given it would mean the loss of both cars to fund it, but they are fantastic motors. Still very fun and involving but a fair bit more grunt while being slightly more grown up. I'd be more than happy to have one as my only car!
Thank you, makes it worth while we writing them then! If I were to buy another 1*2, I'd go for a 182 Cup in Racing Blue. Not as hardcore as the 172 Cup, keeping hold of the air con and sound deadening, so would make a great daily driver. I used to daily my 182 Trophy, which was very easy to live with.

I see what you mean about combining the two, but I'm now running three cars with the MX-5 so getting back down to two will be a bit kinder on the wallet! And the R26 was always going to be a stepping stone up to a newer Megane, so it has always been part of the plan smile
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BenLowden

551 posts

96 months

PH Marketing Bloke

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
HJMS123 said:
No problem Ben! Mark knows his way around Renault Sports like the back of his hand, the amount of time it took him to change my belts was insane considering the 'book estimates'. His labour charges are so competitive it makes the whole journey worth while .... not to mention the amount of smooth tarmac and roundabouts between the M1 and the garage biggrin
I was pretty gobsmacked at how quickly he works his way around a car, it was very impressive. And like you say, the drive there once off the motorway is a heck of a lot of fun. Definitely worth the drive for bigger jobs, thanks again!

dutters

7 posts

30 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
That is a good combo Ben, I have also got an R26 and a 182 which is for track use. Sometime the harshness of the R26 as a daily on UK roads gets on my nerves, but then I just have to take it on a spirited drive and love it again!

culpz

1,631 posts

31 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
BenLowden said:
Thank you, makes it worth while we writing them then! If I were to buy another 1*2, I'd go for a 182 Cup in Racing Blue. Not as hardcore as the 172 Cup, keeping hold of the air con and sound deadening, so would make a great daily driver. I used to daily my 182 Trophy, which was very easy to live with.

I see what you mean about combining the two, but I'm now running three cars with the MX-5 so getting back down to two will be a bit kinder on the wallet! And the R26 was always going to be a stepping stone up to a newer Megane, so it has always been part of the plan smile
As always, keep up the good work Ben! I do love an RB Clio. I'd like one in a nice colour but, tbh, i'd be happy with any other than black. BG is actually quite nice tbf but it's just a nightmare to keep clean and i prefer something a bit more striking to look at. Will just have to see what crops up nearer to the time.

Sorry, completely forgot about the MX as the new edition! I've toyed with getting one myself but i've always been drawn to the Clio's alot more. It's natural progression i suppose, just like you said. They seem to be much more reliable, which is always a bonus in French ownership. I've always been put off the 225's for that reason and can't stretch the funds to an R26.

BenLowden

551 posts

96 months

PH Marketing Bloke

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
I left out the less exciting updates for the Megane, but I also fitted a double DIN Bluetooth head unit to help bring the car into the current decade. I bought an alcantara trimmed Clio 197 steering wheel (pictured in the article), which is a direct swap, so the cruise control still works too and makes a big difference to the driving feel. Alcantara just makes everything better!

Lastly I bought a 6K Xenon HID kit for about £35, and it has transformed the woeful standard halogen bulbs. I think they're the worst headlights on any car I've ever owned! New fresher looking light from the OEM projector units below, much better than the dull yellow and thoroughly recommend this to anyone.



Before (halogen bulbs):



After (6K HID Xenon bulbs):


BenLowden

551 posts

96 months

PH Marketing Bloke

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
dutters said:
That is a good combo Ben, I have also got an R26 and a 182 which is for track use. Sometime the harshness of the R26 as a daily on UK roads gets on my nerves, but then I just have to take it on a spirited drive and love it again!
Good man! Definitely a great combination, I just need to start using the Clio on the road a bit more. I think it's the hip hugging bucket seats and harnesses that put me off driving it on the road so much, but it is first and foremost my track car. The ride on the R26 is stiff as you say, but on the right roads you soon forget about it!

culpz said:
As always, keep up the good work Ben! I do love an RB Clio. I'd like one in a nice colour but, tbh, i'd be happy with any other than black. BG is actually quite nice tbf but it's just a nightmare to keep clean and i prefer something a bit more striking to look at. Will just have to see what crops up nearer to the time.
Good luck on your hunt. There are plenty out there and Cliosport.net is a good place to keep an eye out for decent cars for sale that have been well looked after (as well as the PH classifieds obviously!). A potential big cost is getting the belts/dephaser changed, so ideally buy one that has had them done recently at a decent specialist, or factor that into the cost if it needs doing.

Speed Badger

653 posts

36 months

Thursday 18th May
quotequote all
Ah Ben, if you recall we bought our R26's at almost the same time - mine was a black one. Interesting to read your comments and upgrades, funny the thing that really impressed me the most was how you can actually feel the LSD working. It gives a great feeling of something mechanical working its magic around corners.

Also, my rattly dashboard is driving me insane! What exactly did you use and how to remedy it? I haven't really done any mods to mine yet apart from the obligatory seat runner decals and custom embroidered seat belt pads. Main money went on cambelt and water pump jobbie, shout out to Ren7oaks for a good and reasonably priced job.

I have in mind for the future a Kenwood double din screen with android auto for a bit of modernisation, a Ktec short shift and maybe an exhaust.

Loving the pics of the liquid yellow, I'm really starting to want that colour now - it was my first choice but I'm not sure I could live with it every day. Maybe we could swap - you go discreet and I'll go yellow!

culpz

1,631 posts

31 months

Friday 19th May
quotequote all
BenLowden said:
Good luck on your hunt. There are plenty out there and Cliosport.net is a good place to keep an eye out for decent cars for sale that have been well looked after (as well as the PH classifieds obviously!). A potential big cost is getting the belts/dephaser changed, so ideally buy one that has had them done recently at a decent specialist, or factor that into the cost if it needs doing.
Cheers mate. Yeah, i'm always having a nosey on there every now and then. There's a decent group on FB actually too with mostly well-cared for examples cropping up daily, so i'm constantly keeping my eyes peeled.

Yeah, i'm aware that it's probably the biggest bill, especially all in one hit. I've been lurking that long now that i reckon i know most of the common problems anyway. It definitely pays to do your homework!

avenger286

125 posts

22 months

Friday 19th May
quotequote all
Love these cars and must have one at some point . The one thing I love about the Renault Sport community is the passion for the cars and brand from a Twingo 133 all the way up to a Megane 275 . My 133 is a keeper and the only car I have kept before longer than 3 years .
My wee beast always puts a smile on my face especially with more power than 1*2 !
Keep us updated with all you Renault Sport Antic's.

BenLowden

551 posts

96 months

PH Marketing Bloke

Friday 19th May
quotequote all
Speed Badger said:
Ah Ben, if you recall we bought our R26's at almost the same time - mine was a black one. Interesting to read your comments and upgrades, funny the thing that really impressed me the most was how you can actually feel the LSD working. It gives a great feeling of something mechanical working its magic around corners.

Also, my rattly dashboard is driving me insane! What exactly did you use and how to remedy it? I haven't really done any mods to mine yet apart from the obligatory seat runner decals and custom embroidered seat belt pads. Main money went on cambelt and water pump jobbie, shout out to Ren7oaks for a good and reasonably priced job.
I do remember! What you need is WD40 lithium grease spray. Spray it all along the front of the dash and that'll get rid of it – apparently that's Renault's official fix for the issue too. I went for the Kenwood DPX-5000BT head unit and for £110 it's brilliant, really lifts the interior and has all the tech that I need. Glad to hear you're enjoying it!

JMF894

2,027 posts

74 months

Friday 19th May
quotequote all
Really like this Megane

Good work

vanman1936

234 posts

138 months

Saturday 20th May
quotequote all
Bought an R26 for track day work. Yet to do one but initial impressions on the road are very good.

Gear change and dull exhaust sound are the only real criticism.

Anyone got a short shifter fitted?

Turbo Banana

2 posts

16 months

Sunday 21st May
quotequote all
I've got a LY R26 which unfortunately went bang recently so I'm currently sourcing parts for a full rebuild. I'd had a stage one map from RS tuning and fitted a short shift kit which completely transformed the car as the standard shifter is pretty rubbish. Can't wait to get it back on the road as it's the most enjoyable car I've ever owned.

Patrick Bateman

8,930 posts

93 months

Sunday 21st May
quotequote all
How do the 250 Cups and later compare with something like the 182 Trophy, obvious extra straight line grunt notwithstanding?

BenLowden

551 posts

96 months

PH Marketing Bloke

Monday 22nd May
quotequote all
vanman1936 said:
Anyone got a short shifter fitted?
There's a chap on the RSMegane.com forum that modifies and sell short shifters, so worth a look on there.

Patrick Bateman said:
How do the 250 Cups and later compare with something like the 182 Trophy, obvious extra straight line grunt notwithstanding?
Completely different ball game to be honest. The 1*2 Clios are more nimble, give you more feedback and more fun at sensible speeds. Whereas the outgoing generation Meganes are a much nicer place to be (as is a Clio 197/200) but they're bigger heavier cars. The outright pace is phenomenal and they're much more capable cars, but it all depends on what you want it for.

If you've never had a Renaultsport car before, a cheap old Clio is a brilliant place to start, as parts are cheap and they're light on consumables for track days too. Running costs are more expensive on Meganes and they're heavier on tyres/brake pads, but I'm at the stage now where I've been in Clios for over two years and I'm ready to take the next step up. Time will tell if I miss the Clio or not when it goes!

Speed Badger

653 posts

36 months

Monday 22nd May
quotequote all
Next step up wink




I've sort of gone up and down in terms of stepping up - I went from a Mégane 250 to a Clio 182, then to a Clio 200, next came a Mégane 265 facelift, now currently a Mégane R26. The biggest difference between the R26 and 265 is without doubt the interior quality, dashboard and plastics. Not to mention lack of rattles. I'm finding the R26 more fun to drive from a pure driving perspective and there isn't much in it speed and handling wise as mine has been remapped to 250bhp but is a bit lighter than the 265's.

I think whichever Renaultsport car you buy it will leave a big smile on your face.