I took myself for a drive the other day. One of those spur of the moment decisions with a direction and not a destination in mind. I pottered along with the traffic, perusing the peninsula for a coffee shop or lookout area that I could call a midpoint. Eventually, in Camps Bay, I parked up and went in search of the caffeine hit that my body so achingly needed.
…not once had i turned on sport mode.
With a revitalized mind, I returned to my car with a newfound realization. I had just been on a purposeful drive in a sporty car and not once had I turned on sport mode. Not once did I exceed 3000 RPM and not once did I smile. Worst of all, when I parked up, I forgot to turn around and admire the chariot I arrived in.
The car in question is my Renault Megane RS 265 daily driver. I bought it to replace a much newer Mini Cooper S about 8 months ago and since then I just haven’t clicked with the car. I’ve also struggled to articulate exactly why that is, but after some careful thought I finally have an answer. The RS is a bit ummm… serious.
Before I elaborate, let me finish the introductory story. Apart from commuting to and from Stellenbosch, those are the only sorts of “drives” I take the Renault on. Drives that involve traffic and numerous small green temporary tripods of terror. My Megane RS will never get used on track and is never the car of choice for Sunday morning Franschhoek runs. If the aforementioned were true, this would be a drastically different article.
For me, this is where the Megane falls short.
The Megane is without doubt a good performance car. In fact I would stretch to great status. But that’s not what I’m judging it on. What I want in a daily driver is for a car to turn even menial commuting into a fun experience. For me, this is where the Megane RS falls short.
As you would know, RS Meganes have always been great successes on track. In fact, a variant of the 265 (the Trophy), was the front wheel drive record holder at the Nurburgring a few years ago. Even in non-Cup chassis form, the grip level and composure on the road is mind boggling. You would have to push the car pretty hard before you feel any suggestion of movement.
That’s where my first problem lies. I simply don’t drive the car in situations where I will push its limits. I’ve never driven a 911 Turbo but I would imagine a similar feeling of frustration.. I’m not implying that the only exciting road cars are GT86s with low grip economy rubber, but the Megane RS is just a bit too unbothered at road speeds.
Speed is a sensation
There’s a great Chris Harris quote that goes something like “We need to stop celebrating speed by its quantity, rather by its nature”. This concept is even more important now than ever. Speed is a sensation. Well the fun part of it is at least. You don’t sit on an Airbus going “weeeeeeeee!!!”, do you? Even if it’s going over 1000km/h!
I finally understand the appeal of something like an MX-5, or even the new Alpine A110. They both have a slightly softer suspension setup and allow the driver to play more with the weight transfer and balance of the car. You would feel more like you’re hustling the car and less like you’re simply pointing it towards corners. Of course on a racetrack it’s a different story, but I want something that makes slow driving entertaining.
Of course there are other forms of entertainment that a car can bring. One of these is the engine. You don’t have to be on the limit to enjoy a howling V12 or even a zingy 4 cylinder. The Megane’s engine, effective as it is, is positively dull. Even my Cooper S felt more exciting with its turbo whooshes and childish pops and bangs. The 2 litre in the RS pulls strongly, but dies just as quickly towards the redline. It’s simply not satisfying to rev out. And don’t get me started on the noise.
a Renault Megane RS simply doesn’t feel special to me.
On top of all this, a Renault Megane RS simply doesn’t feel special to me. I’m not interested in the brand, and the history. I have no friends in the Renault community. I also don’t sit in the driver’s seat and think “Wow this is special”. None of this equates to a real problem, but when you spend your life passionately thinking about this stuff, not enjoying a car is agonising! If it’s not fun to drive I may as well have an automatic Polo with comfortable suspension and Apple Car-play.
Of course the car has some redeeming features. I quite enjoy the gearbox and the pedal placement makes heel-and-toeing a breeze. Obviously it’s fast too. 200kw in a hot hatch means I can keep up with pretty much anything on most roads – I just don’t have much fun doing it.
So I will be looking for the right buyer and continuing my search for a car to fall in love with.
Written by Reece Oellermann. All Photographs by Connor Edwards