RS280 EDC OUT, RS280 CUP MANUAL IN. OLD’S COOL, RIGHT?
IT TOOK ALL of 10 seconds to have me doubting. The yellow twin-clutch Megane RS280 you saw here last month had gone back to Renault and in its place had arrived this tangerine-hued RS280 with a manual gearbox and the firmer Cup chassis, neither of which had created a positive first impression. The gearchange travel is long and the action noisy and clunky, while the ride can best be described as terse. It felt like I’d been downgraded.
Since then I’ve gradually warmed to the Cup. I still don’t rate the shift action, but there’s a certain agricultural pleasure to clogging in a big boot of heel and toe in order to get round the awkward pedal positioning. The Torsen limited-slip differential that’s part of the Cup package also brings the steering to life when you’re really on it, tugging the car into a bend and adding to the excitement. On an allied note, I’ve also realised that there’s a certain cadence where the suspension starts to glide rather than jostle, but I’m not about to mention what it is in print.
In order to house the gearshifter and manual handbrake, the entire centre
console of the car has been redesigned. The centre cubby with the sliding lid featured in the Edc-equipped RS280 Sport is replaced by a pair of open cupholders that look undersized but do a fairly decent job with most things. You can’t quite stand a smartphone up in them though, which, admittedly, isn’t their primary design criterion.
I’ve noticed a theme with the longtermers I’ve run thus far. The better the fuel economy versus manufacturer figures, the less I’ve enjoyed the cars. In other words, it means that I’ve been driving them sedately on highways rather than seeking out the twisty back roads and giving it some jandal. It’s seen 13.5L/100km on one tank against a published figure of 7.5L/100km, so the Renault has enjoyed some exercise.
This might also be one of the highest kilometre readings for a ‘month one’ car, at 3280 klicks, so rest assured that the Megane isn’t one of those cars that ends up resigned to the office car park over a weekend. I’m still not convinced that this represents the sweet spot in the RS280 range, but it’ll be fun establishing that one way or another.
Six-speed manual’s shift action is like War and Peace: neither short nor sweet. A case of be careful of what you wish for?