After tackling my hefty daily duties to and from Twickenham for six months, and covering 10,000 miles in the process, VU11 WLD has had a well-earned rest over the winter. The other French hot hatch on the fleet has done a great job of filling some big boots in the meantime.
However, a mileage shortfall does not mean a lack of progress. With power sorted and the Clio sold, some of the funds have been redirected into turning the Megane into my very own Trophy-R replica. For a start, the steering wheel, gear gaiter, handbrake cover and gaiter were all sent off to Royal Steering Wheels to be retrimmed. And what a fantastic job they did; Alcantara just makes everything better, doesn't it?
Next stop, the seats, which in standard format are hopeless on track as you spend half the time sliding around on the leather, trying not to fall off. There was only one option; a set of Recaro Pole Position ABE seats with aluminium side mounts which you'll find in a proper Trophy-R, albeit in slightly different trim. And finally to complete the interior, a Trophy-R replica rear bar from CGR Automotive with a genuine Sabelt cargo net.
With just enough pennies left in the piggy bank, I went to my go-to suppliers for track wheels and tyres. I'm useless when it comes to understanding wheel offsets but thanks to some advice from another Megane owner, my car was subsequently fitted with a set of Team Dynamics 1.3 in 8.5x18 ET45 to sit flush to the arches and wrapped in the always grippy Avon ZZR in 225/40/18.
Naturally all this needed testing, and our final Silverstone Sunday Service of 2017 provided the perfect place backdrop. With a dry track laid on to make the most of Avon's expertise, the car performed faultlessly - even in the face of three-hour endurance session involving repeat passenger rides.
Compared to my last outing at Rockingham, the difference in pace was unmistakable. The combination of 360lb ft of torque from 3,500rpm and the racket coming from the now unshielded exhaust made the hard work all worthwhile before the first corner had even been rounded. No less impressive were the Megane's fresh set of brake discs; the Carbon Lorraine RC5+ pads pulled the car up at every corner with fail, no fade or judder throughout the session. They're seriously impressive for a relatively budget pad, and will be my new go-to over the Ferodo DS2500.
The real star of the show though were the ZZRs. There's just so much grip everywhere, which means that you not only brake later and corner faster, but do everything with untold levels of confidence. Throw in the Megane's stellar chassis, and there are surely few finer ways to spend your time and money.
Which does of course make the question of its replacement rather tricky. Certainly it'll be hard to beat for performance, reliability and practicality, although with a 200 year-old cottage to renovate, some funds definitely need freeing up. Frankly it's hard to imagine life now without a Renault Sport product on the fleet (and, for me, the Megane 250 is the perfect answer to the used hot hatch conundrum), but that sad day is fast approaching.
Car: 2011 Renault Megane 250 Lux
Run by: Ben Lowden
Bought: May 2017
Last month at a glance: Well it's not a proper track car witout some Alacantara now, is it?
[Silverstone action pics: Chris Teagles]