BMW, Renault and the Nurbugring, a Story that Is so Cute, but Wrong

Put a blindfold on. Now climb inside any contemporary car wearing the BMW badge and set off. You see? Even when you... can’t see, you know that you’re in a vehicle conceived in Bavaria. And this is true for any new BMW, regardless if its name starts with a letter or a digit, or it it contains a “d” or not. The steering, the gearbox and other goodies instantly let you know what you’re driving. Of course, for the machine to become the ultimate driving one, to use the Bavarians’ words, you’ll need it to have one forged in the fire of the M division.

Can I pause the German performance story for a few paragraphs here and take a trip to France? Thank you. I'm here to talk about a carmaker that has a different view on automobiles: Renault. Every human brain instantly creates strong associations when a familiar notion is mentioned. Well, when it comes to fast cars, Renault’s name won’t be among the first ones to pop up in your head.

Yes, when the company was still la toddler, its founder invented the supercharger and the automaker is now a Formula One player, but today, after more than a century of evolution, Renault’s cars don’t inspire you to put them through their paces on the bends. Or do they?

You enter a Renault dealership and you’ll instantly think about concepts such as safety and affordability, but you won’t start searching for a helmet. Unless... we are talking about Renault Sport.

While bimmers have a je ne sais quoi (actually je sais, but I’ve already mentioned it above) that makes you want to put the pedal to the metal even in the entry-level vehicles, with the M-touched car bringing an icing on a cake that was already there, things with Renault couldn’t be more different.

Most vehicles belonging to the French company are just antagonistic to let’s say fireproof clothing and driving shoes. However, Renault Sport educates its every student so well that this not only makes it brothers and sisters cry after graduating, but also manages to show it’s rear end to many competitors coming from brands with much higher ambitions.

Which brings is to the core of our story: about two weeks ago, Germany and French fought against each other in hell.

No, of course the two nations didn’t make the effort to find Lucifer’s land and use it as a battlefield. Instead, it was much simpler to use the Nurburgring for the purpose. You see, when June was still young (I was actually determined to keep my mouth hand shut on this one, as I have a little crush on the 1M Coupe, but the pressure was to big, so here I am, writing about its defeat), both BMW and Renault were in the spotlights for lapping the Nordshchelife. So, since I’ve spoken about connections, what can you do, if not compare the laptimes, especialy since the times were pretty close.

Renault Sport was officially there, with a team of engineers doing their best to allow the car they wanted to show to the world, the Megane RS Throphy, to fly from one bend to the other, while BMW wasn’t, as the vehicle in question, a 1 Series M Coupe, was being tested by sportauto.

But why did I start with this detail? Well, simply because I need to find arguments for what happened back there: the Megane RS Trophy outperformed the 1 M Coupe. The flying Dutch Frenchman posted a laptime of 8 minutes and 8 seconds, while the entry level M car needed 8 minutes and 15 seconds for the same job.

That’s seven seconds on the ‘Ring in favor of the Renault, with the French automotive creation offering 5.1 kg per hp and the BMW bringing 4.4 kg per hp, so a really good explanation excuse would really be necessary. OK, let’s try to make a case for the German.

The Megane RS Trophy is a front-wheel-drive car, while the 1 M Coupe is a rear-wheel-drive one, so the Renault’s driver didn’t have as much fun as the BMW’s. - This is certainly true, but not relevant here.

The 1 M Coupe is faster in a straight line - I can’t believe a BMW M has to redeem itself on the straights, that’s all I can say.

The Megane RS Trophy is a member of the hot hatch secret society and you know how much this niche has evolved (it could be the most effervescent performance segment in the automotive industry right now), so it’s only natural that it outperformed the bimmer - The 1 M Coupe, being based on a 1 Series, also has hatchback genes, so this one is also out.

Maybe the Megane RS Trophy is an extremist, just like the late Megane R26.R (the previous generation’s maddest version), while the entry-level M vehicle is a car that you can use everyday - Nope, the new hottest Megane is done with ditching rear seats and using a rollcage, you can use it for shopping tips. And, by the way, want to know what was one of the factors that increased the BMW’s time? The fact that its suspension is too FIRM, so it might be more difficult to use everyday than the Megane.

I’ll stop here, as even though I might have a soft spot for the 1 M Coupe, I really can’t help it. Facts are facts: the Megane RS Trophy gave it a bloody nose on the Nurburgring.

What happened is disturbing in so many ways. For connoisseurs: the 1 M brings back the spirit of the E30 M3, so this one is really under the belt. For outsiders: let’s say you wanted to buy a fast car, but without having to spend a fortune on it, would you expect a significantly cheaper Renault Sport car to show its rear end to an M vehicle?

Yes, I know: 1)there were, are and always will be other cases when a hot hatch laughs in the face of a performance coupe. 2)Both of these cars are limited editions, so they’re not the most suitable for being used as a yardstick. 3) BMWs will still be cars that connect with the helmet inside your brain, while mainstream Renaults will stick to assets like safety and affordability. But it doesn’t matter - a Renault Sport car should’ve never beaten an M vehicle on the Nurburgring. The whole story makes me think about a mother that outshines a daughter on a catwalk...
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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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