Track days are a luxury for the car enthusiast, especially since there are no smaller (and cheaper) circuits around the Klang Valley, and our only hope is a Formula 1 circuit. A lucky bunch of people recently got to enjoy a track day – these folks are the owners of Renault Sport cars. The event was arranged and sponsored by distributor TC Euro Cars, a subsidiary of Tan Chong Motors.
“People who buy a RM230,000 car with a manual transmission mated to a 250 hp engine are definitely driving enthusiasts; it is with our customers in mind that we felt that what better place to enjoy the full capability of Renault Sport cars than on a Formula 1 track,” said TCEC’s GM, Reza Mutalib.
From what we heard, TCEC is also planning to have a number of exclusive track days in 2012 to further accommodate the growing RS family. We heard about this trackday from a contact who owns a Renault Sport, so we called up TCEC to see whether we could come along for the ride.
Over 60 people showed up at Sepang, the bulk of them owners of the Megane R26, Clio RS and Megane RS250. There were also some who had booked the hot Megane and waiting (im)patiently for their cars to arrive. These soon to be owners had a taste of what their future ride can do on track as they were given demo laps, and from their smiles and expression, not one regretted his decision!
I asked, and apparently the car has been sold out for months. New stocks that are expected to arrive by the end of the month are mostly booked, too. Not that I have the bank balance…
If you haven’t already gathered from our test drive report, we adore the Megane RS 250 for its superb performance (not just speed, but handling and flow) and comfort as a daily driver (unlike say, a Civic Type R). It also amazed me that Renault Sport managed to better the Megane R26 in about every aspect, and the old timer is a cracker, mind you.
Back to the track. Before I drove, I strapped myself in the passenger seat with Denis Lian, who is of course the pro who set the Sepang lap record for the Megane RS 250 at 2 mins 43 secs last year. Denis not only used every ounce of the car’s grip and brakes, but every inch of the track as well – and this is what separates racers from the regular enthusiast. After that we swapped seats for a chance for him to laugh at my skills.
He didn’t (because he’s nice, not because I’m good), but instead gave me pointers as we took on full laps of Sepang. My first full throttle of the day was at the exit of Turn 2 on to the right sweeper and straight before standing (literally) on the brakes for T4. Unlike the R26 and Golf GTI, the Megane RS doesn’t feel as fast as it really is, probably due to the much improved refinement.
But make no mistake, this car is very quick even if it doesn’t kick. We also recently found out that it actually makes much more than the stated 250 hp – click here to read.
Traction out of corners is superb in this LSD equipped car, as I discovered in T4, and one can confidently lean into the following S bends without the fear of Megane throwing you off the road. It will lose traction eventually, but the process is progressive, and you’re likely not to be caught unawares, unless one’s fully drowned in adrenalin, or just plain foolhardy.
Next up was a dab of the brakes before aiming for two apexes in a U. The Megane RS does allow for some degree of roll, which is not a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of “work”. The way the suspension “breathes” on the road (as opposed to hopping around) was evident here as I clipped the raised kerbs, without my head hitting the roof or bum shifting in the Recaro.
The final corner before the back straight really brought out the reactive nature of the chassis. This is one FWD car that can dance and flow along, and not just rely solely on grip from the nose. The straights saw me reach about 190 km/h before starting to brake at the 100m mark.
Those four-pot Brembos with 340 mm slotted discs are incredible, to say the least, marrying strong bite and a nice easy to modulate natural feel. 100m isn’t much when one’s hitting 200 km/h, and I’m happy to report that I made the corner with room to spare.
By the way, the Megane RS 250 comes standard with the R.S. Monitor, which displays real-time data (stopwatch with memory function, acceleration timer, g-force meter, turbo pressure, oil temp, torque/power figures) plus the option of five throttle map settings.
Didn’t really have time to play with all that, but I left the g-force meter on, and as you can see, we pulled about 1.2g of lateral acceleration. We achieved the same on the road in our earlier test drive.
Amazing performance on track for a car that’s so usable on the road. With the car and now the track days, these Renault Sport owners have double happiness. As for me, I left the track one part happy, two parts envy!