Clarkson drives the Mégane 230 F1 Team

Discussion in 'European Cars' started by RockaForte, Feb 3, 2007.

  1. Jeremy Clarkson
    A case of power corrupting absolutely

    A couple of weeks ago Sir David Attenborough went on the BBC — an Establishment double act that’s hard to top — and explained exactly what global warming would mean for Britain.

    In short, some householders in Worcester will need new carpets every time it rains, the Glasgow sewers will burst and a farmer in Abingdon will be moved to make way for a new reservoir.

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    It was not even slightly terrifying, but nevertheless at the end Attenborough came onto the screen in big nose-hair close-up to explain that we must do something now — now, d’you hear — to prevent this catastrophe.

    Doubtless a party political broadcast from such an authority as Attenborough will have had you scampering round the house turning off the lights. And maybe the next day you walked to work instead of taking the car. Though I doubt this, because much to the annoyance of the producers the next day was bitterly cold with snow falling in many parts of the country.

    And anyway, even if every nation meets its obligations under the Kyoto agreement, the Earth won’t be saved. In fact, the heat expected in 2020 would arrive in 2026. So we ruin our lives to buy just six more years.

    The fact is this. Global warming’s coming, so you can don your King Canute hat and stand on the beach waving your Toyota Prius at the advancing heatwave, but it won’t make a ha’p’orth of difference.

    But don’t worry, because I have a plan. The biggest threat we face, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation, is rising sea levels. Apparently, seawater expands when it’s heated, so the entire population of Britain will have to spend the rest of time perched on top of Ben Nevis.

    Plainly, then, there is too much water in the world, so why don’t we just call Nasa and ask it to take some of it into space? Technically this is not difficult. Build a fleet of space shuttles. Fill them with seawater. And move it into orbit.

    If necessary the water could be stored in a huge balloon so that if the world cools down at some point in the future the shuttles could go up there and bring it back again.

    Brilliant, yes? But having given the matter some thought, I think there is room for improvement.

    Space is only 75 miles from the surface of the Earth, so why not make a giant hosepipe, dip one end in the sea and take the other end out into the void, where, of course, there is a vacuum. That means the water will be sucked up the pipe without the need for any energy-absorbing pumps.

    Of course there is a small problem with this idea. Gravity means the hosepipe will keep falling back to the ground again, but I’ve thought of that.

    Initially, I reckoned it could be tethered to the moon, but having studied astrological charts I’ve realised that in a day or two the pipe would be wrapped round the world. And as any gardener knows, this will cause a kink at some point, which will stop the water being ejected.

    There are two ways of addressing this. We could either build a tower 75 miles tall to which the hosepipe could be fixed. Or we could fit the space end of the pipe with a watering can sprinkler attachment that is turned to face Earth. This would direct the water downwards and that would invoke Newton’s third law. Hey presto: the effects of gravity are overcome and the hosepipe stays up.
    Now I’m just a middle-aged bloke with no engineering qualifications whatsoever and yet, in the space of one afternoon, I have devised a simple method that will save the life of everyone in Norfolk, Holland and the Maldives.

    Which brings me on to an important question. What, exactly, are those who do have engineering qualifications doing to fill their days in these dark and superheated times? Are they developing an airborne vacuum cleaner that cruises through the upper atmosphere sucking up the carbon dioxide and turning it into money or cheese or something?

    Are they working on waterproof carpets for the people of Worcester or pills to reduce the amount of sewage produced by Glaswegians? Sadly not. In fact they’re all down at the Dog and Spanner wondering if a front differential might tame the understeer in a powerful front-wheel-drive hatchback.
    Here’s the problem. To make a hot hatchback appeal these days, it must have more power than all its rivals. But as Vauxhall proved with its insane Astra VXR, you can’t just put a million horsepower in a hatchback, because the front wheels cannot be expected to deal with this and the job of steering.

    Ford, as I recall, was the first to try to tame big power in a front-drive car by fitting a front differential. It was the RS1600i and I seem to remember it was fairly nasty. But nowhere near as nasty as its second attempt, the Focus RS. Yes, in a tight corner you could shove your right foot through the firewall and the front tyres would still grip. But unfortunately, when you were just driving normally, the car was so twitchy and so prone to even the slightest change in camber that I’d even go so far as to call it dangerous.

    This, I felt, answered the question nicely.

    Yes. A front differential will tame understeer in a powerful front-wheel-drive hatchback. But the price is too high.

    However, Renault was not paying attention and has now come along with the complicated sounding Mégane Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26.

    It’s a very yellow car this, and it comes with all sorts of eye-catching details such as grey wheels, brilliant bucket seats, lots of stickers, including if you want a chequerboard roof and a little plaque between the front seats saying: “We won the last two Formula One world championships, we did.”

    I rather liked it. I liked the engine, too. It’s a 2 litre turbo, almost identical to the unit fitted in the old Mégane 225 but tweaked so you get a few less carbon dioxides coming out of the back and a bit more power going to the wheels. The result is 0-60mph in 6.2sec.

    Even better, however, is the price — just £19,570 — and even better than that is the ride. Yes, it has stiff springs, but it’s got good damper travel, so your teeth stay fastened to your jaw over even the roughest road.

    However, if you set off into this absurd name with a magnifying glass and a map, you will note that the car produces 230bhp. That sounds good in the brochures but you can’t put this much power through the front wheels and hope for the best. So they’ve taken a leaf out of Ford’s book and gone, once more, for a front diff.

    And sure, on a soaking wet corner, covered with a veneer of leaves, Fairy Liquid and butter, you can stand on the throttle and such is the grip you won’t even trouble the traction control system.

    But as was the way with Ford’s loony tunes Focus, there are drawbacks at all other times. You pull out to overtake a slower car and you feel the wheel tense as you make the move. Then you crest the apex of the road and you feel it twitch again. You have the sense that unless you hold on tight you will be in a tree.
    t’s nowhere near as bad as it was in the Ford but it’s still there, a constant nagging presence, like being in the room with a lion. It means you can never just relax and listen to Terry Wogan.

    You are therefore better off with a Golf GTI. And Renault’s engineers would have been better off doing something more constructive with their time. Such as realising my dream of putting a hosepipe into space.

    Vital statistics
    Model Mégane Renaultsport 230 F1 Team R26
    Engine 1998cc, four cylinders
    Power 230bhp @ 5500rpm Torque 229 lb ft @ 3000rpm
    Transmission Six-speed manual
    Fuel 33.2mpg (combined cycle)
    CO2 200g/km
    Performance 0-62mph:6.5sec/Top speed:147mph
    Price £19,570
    Rating Three stars (out of five)
    Verdict Very yellow but not so bright
     
  2. Shit for JC. He's become too self parodying lately.
     
  3. I'm sorry, was there a car review in there somewhere?
     
  4. Last 5 paragraphs
     
  5. Oh, there it is.
     
  6. I think he is wrong in this case. the R26 has had great reviews from everyone else. It can do without the stickers (order without them), but other than that it is a very good hot hatch that is much better than the other RS Meganes for handling and driver interaction.
     
  7. He truly is amazing.
     
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  9. Damn it JC <A BORDER="0" HREF="http://www.supercars.net/PitLane?displayFAQ=y"><IMG BORDER="0" SRC="pitlane/emoticons/sad.gif"></A>
     
  10. Not his best article.
     
  11.  
  12. you cant expect every article to be top-notch all the time. its still good anyway - this is standard jc excellence
     

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