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DS 3, Renault Mégane R.S., Mazda MX-5 in the test

Rossen Gargolov
DS 3, Renault Mégane RS, Mazda MX-5 in the test
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Z given, this looks like a bit of a mess: Chichi small car, compact sports device, naturally aspirated roadster - who comes up with something like that? In all honesty, we made that up, all by ourselves and in our right mind. The idea: sometimes doing something on a cost basis, sometimes something different than having the Audi S3 pounded by the BMW M135i for the thirteenth time, and something again, where it's not just about times, but also about everything. We'll be bringing three episodes of this type in the near future, each with a price cap. It starts right at the bottom, also to satisfy boss Schurig, who preaches again and again that we have to bring something affordable between all the top-class players. In this respect: Here you go!

Driving fun - as of today - not without Renault Mégane RS

However, there are some cars below 30,000 euros, even some that are suitable for sports cars, so why? just this one? So, the Renault Mégane R.S. should make sense based on the hymns of praise that we sing comparison test after comparison test - especially since it may be the last time that we will get him in tried and tested form. The successor Mégane stood at the IAA.

And if you look at what the Créateurs at Renault recently did with the Clio R.S. have driven - left out the Trophy - we get a little bit scared before the new edition. Whatever: Driving fun in this price range - as of today - is not possible without a Renault Mégane R.S. Basta.

With the Mazda MX-5 it's not that easy anymore. He, too, certainly has a die-hard fan base, except that - with all due respect - the majority of them are the men and women who drive around roadsters, for whom a little headwind is enough to be happy. Nevertheless, they did a bunch of things right with the new one over in Japan: smaller than its predecessor, lighter than its predecessor and in the 160 hp top version not that terribly weak. Back and forth: Mazda MX-5, you're in the test.

Yes, the DS 3 is also included

Which brings us to candidate number three - and the need to explain. Basically, for us it was all about the engine, the 1.6-liter turbo, that special 1.6-liter turbo that they just threw out of Mini - and which we have only really known about since then we had on him.

Andto have. Because in the PSA group he can still run, for example in the RCZ. However, Peugeot is about to retire, in a final 'by the way', which disqualifies him for this story. Plan B: We take the 208 GTi, whether in the red-bottom version of the 30th anniversary or in the standard trim, completely sausage. Great, they said at Peugeot: We have the latter, we will send it, great, great - until we call you back. Basically: we don't send anymore, we don't have anymore, we have destroyed. Accidentally natural, but lasting. All that could still be offered on this topic is: that!

Well, that the Citroën DS 3 is no longer an extremely ambitious small car since the racing version was discontinued, we knew in advance. What we didn't know at first: That it is no longer a Citroën, but just a DS 3 - DS with brand names, 3 with surnames. That should make it something better, something special - which ultimately doesn't make it that much better either.

The R4- Turbo tears it out in the DS 3

Strictly speaking, everything is as usual: the blurred steering, the couch-like suspension and the stubborn damping, which then also reduces the reference to the DS, i.e. the true goddess, to absurdity . The strange thing: Nevertheless, it has something, something that prevents you from writing it down because of its mediocrity - something that especially those who always scream the loudest who end up buying a Polo again. Silver metallic. Hubcaps. Sunroof. You know what you've got.

This is something for those who stand by their words: shrill, unskilled and, in a charming way, a bit 'anti' - that shows the firle-French interior or the shark fin in the sideline, which, together with the design, seems to be swimming against the current, and it is evident in its pronounced ambisexuality. In plain language: The Citro… - pardon, the DS 3 is the tutu for the macho, a woman's car for men, sprays scented cartridges in the interior, but rally flair outside: the white wheels are optional, the matching paint tattoos in the accessories, plus a little imagination and driving - the rumbling on Franconian forest roads already feels like a Finnish special stage.

And it is actually the engine that tears it out - despite the thin four-cylinder whimper, despite completely excessive gear ratios and despite the limp feeling of the accelerator pedal, that ruins the response before it even happens - yes, despite all that! It's his looseness that makes him special: Most turbo engines these days emit torque, but he really gushes it out. Whipped cream instead of creamy sauce, fluffy, but without being too lean. Already clear that no miracles come out of it, just stick with itlittle in it. 7.2 seconds to 100, a one-two-and-twenties time in Hockenheim - you could say that it is price-performance-fair. If you could, if it weren't for your compatriot, who offers so much more power so much cheaper.

Renault Mégane R.S. fully trimmed for dynamism

You have to consider how long the Renault Mégane R.S. already exists, and above all, how few there have been in all those years who could harm him in terms of driving dynamics - and not only in his performance class.

Logically, you can tell his age in places: the simple-minded infotainment, the slightly angular throttle response or the fact that there are no buttons for the landing gear to soften the continuous fire on the popometer in between. Much, however, is simply timeless: the slight plucking in the steering when the locking mechanism interlocks, the bite when turning, the unaffected snorting of the engine and the six-speed gearbox, which still goes a world better with such a riot box than the sterile DSG - lost Sprint tenth or not.

Rossen Gargolov
No fast compact sports car is as cheap as the Mégane RS

It can only relax not: curves are a serious matter for him, the associated dynamics a matter of honor and many other things only secondary. Comfort, for example, but also entertainment that develops here in a completely different way than in the Citro ... - rule times!

Now comes the one Mazda MX-5 into play

But now: In the DS, driving pleasure is something spooky. It takes a while to track them down, but then all of a sudden they are there, although nobody really knows why and why. The Renault, on the other hand, actively produces them, but as a by-product, more or less as the chips that fall off while planing around corners - the abundance being directly related to the cornering speed. Say: Rolling around is so-so; As soon as you push hard, however, the serotonin rushes in rivers.

And that's exactly where the Mazda comes in. He's not one to whom you have to get lucky like lap times, but the only one that you climb in a good mood: the funny, dark look,his openness in dealing with himself and his driver and the sitting position at eye level with truck wheel hubs, which is perhaps the biggest advantage over the two not overly ergonomic French.

In the DS 3 you sit like at a bar, in the Mégane on great bucket seats, but too high and too far forward. But you slip into the Mazda: your legs are in it, almost all of the rest is peeping out from above, a bit like in a kayak or at least as the author thinks he remembers his only contact with a kayak - back when he was almost drowned in the non-swimmer area of ​​the school pool, but that's another story.

Rossen Gargolov
Small, light, handy and close to the people: This is the Mazda MX-5.

Mazda MX-5 doesn't need turbo flow

And what comes after it somehow fits In the picture: The two-liter four-cylinder still paddles up the speed ladder on its own, instead of being swept forward by an artificially induced turbo flow; You can turn practically on the spot with the help of the rear-wheel drive; and in fast corners, if you grab it a little more resolutely on its slightly wobbly steering, it starts rowing, drifts across and leans to the side - sometimes quite adventurous, almost as if the centrifugal force had caught it as a wave. The joke: The mood still doesn't change.

Just how does he do it? Quite simply by defying the trend - as always, out of tradition. Nowadays, sporty cars are developed with the aim of exhausting performance to the full, after all, you have to print a fancy Nordschleife record in the press release - as absurd as it may be.

At Mazda, however, they obviously don't care , build for practice, not for theory. Let's be honest: What is there to iron across a country road with such an ultra-high performer? He's chronically under-challenged, but you still have one leg in jail. Exactly: It doesn't give you anything!

Because driving fun is also linked to activity, with both sides: the car has to work and you have to work with it. Turn in, correct, accelerate, intercept- just fight. You can do that with the Mazda MX-5: on the track anyway, but sometimes also in the roundabout when nobody is looking - and better than with the other two. Because its limit is exactly where the fun has already started, but the reason does not stop, whereas that of the DS 3 runs a little further to the left and that of the Renault a good bit further to the right.

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