Renault Clio 172 Cup/Megane R26: PH Fleet


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]

 

 

 

 

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Comments (24) Join the discussion on the forum

  • MissChief 19 May 2017

    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 19 May 2017

    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 19 May 2017

    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 19 May 2017

    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 19 May 2017

    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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