Wheels (Australia) - - Garage - ANDY ENRIGHT

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?

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