Alright, guilty: it's been another month of the Trophy just doing more Megane stuff than Renault Sport stuff. Commutes, motorway slogs, airport runs - that sort of thing. However, that's to be addressed imminently, with a track day this weekend and head-to-head next week, so there'll be plenty more to discuss very soon. Promise.
The glut of more ordinary driving - Oulton Park for the Porsche stuff, Harrogate for a wedding, home to Ipswich to see family - means the Megane is through 5,000 miles now. While it probably feels quicker than ever, the economy hasn't improved, meaning that even at a steady motorway cruise it's struggling to hit 35mpg. I'll measure it again this month and see if that can be improved; combined with a pretty small tank of 50 litres, it never feels like you go far on a tank in a Trophy. Perhaps what's actually required is less investigation of how much quicker it feels...
Trouble is, the Megane's nature makes it quite difficult to proceed sedately. It's an odd culture clash, this Trophy, the combination of mature new Megane with ferocious, focussed, angry old Renault Sport sometimes a hard one to get your head around. On occasion it feels too much of one for the situation, then too much of the other; the ride means you never in doubt of the Megane's potency, but the level of detachment from elsewhere - as it attempts that more grown-up thing - creates a mismatch. Better to bust through the façade and drive it hard, because the Megane does show off glimpses of brilliance once acclimatised. The steering remains weird, though trust both it and the limited-slip diff and there's prodigious traction. I've mentioned the bump stops and their ability before, but a new discovery this month has made the Megane feel even more like a rally car: headlights of staggering brightness, like it's carrying four Cibie spotlights across the bonnet and helping every dusky country road feel like a special stage.
And actually, when it's appropriate, quick driving does distract from the Megane's problems. Again this month it has crashed CarPlay, an unresponsive black screen showing on the R-Link display that returns to normal after a few minutes. Not ideal in an unknown location when using the phone to guide you (because the standard nav is rubbish). The keyless entry has played up, too, allowing entry to the car but then setting off the alarm as, seemingly, one sensor has not told another that the key is present. The touchscreen and surrounding buttons aren't as responsive as they should be, either, meaning you resort to using the column mounted stalk that's been a mainstay of Renaults for a very long time. The move to new tech hasn't been entirely successful, basically. Although the average speed check function should be mentioned, because it's brilliant: when the sat-nav detects an average speed camera, a little display on the map shows your actual speed through the section. And how far out speedos typically are. Why it hasn't been incorporated elsewhere I don't know, but it's dead handy.
Put simply, I find myself rooting for the Megane more and more. Those fantastic Recaro seats mean long journeys are far more tolerable than the ride might initially suggest it would be, for example. I'm convinced, too, that it's a more exciting and more capable hot hatch than the Focus ST that so many are crowing about. Equally, there's no doubt in my mind that the Civic remains the better car, though it's easy to see why a prospective buyer could be swayed. There's nearly the same dynamism and intensity, in a much better-looking car, with the option of a DCT gearbox as well. (The automatic is on the list of Meganes to drive, don't worry, along with an old one and the Trophy-R.)
So while it's still far from plain sailing - the driving position is still daft, the ventilation controls are silly, that sort of thing - the Megane's ability and style are only becoming more appealing. I suspect the next month of adventures on road and track, those more suited to its skillset, will only further increase the effect.
Car: 2019 Renault Sport Megane 300 Trophy
Run by: Matt
On fleet since: June 2019
List price new: £31,835 (price as standard; as tested £36,085 comprised of Liquid Yellow paint for £1,300, Bose Pack (Bose sound system with seven speakers, digital amp and sub, plus 8.7-inch touchscreen with R-Link 2), for £800, Front parking sensors and rear parking camera for £400, Visio system (Lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and auto high beam) for £250 and Recaro Sports Pack (Renault Sport Recaro seats with red stitching and Alcantara) for £1,500)
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