On the track, Daniel Ricciardo drives the world’s briskest cars. Off the track, you’d assume it’s a similar story: the Australian Formula One racer’s annual salary of 26.5 million GBP (AU$52.8 million) means he can flaunt whatever he wants over the rest of us. But as News.com.au reported on Thursday, that isn’t (always) what he does.
In fact, Daniel Ricciardo’s weekend car – the one he drives for fun, or to get around the city – is quite a surprise. It’s not a Porsche 911; not a Corvette; not a Ferrari, Nissan or a suped-up Audi; it’s a $63,000 Renault Megane RS Trophy.
Cynical? You might point out that he drives for Renault (and that after they tripled his salary it’s logical he would do them a solid in return). And you’d be right. You’d also be correct in assuming he doesn’t only drive a Renault Megane RS Trophy when cruising for leisure. He also has a Porsche GT3 RS and a Vespa (which he keeps in Italy) and a Ford F150 Raptor pickup that he keeps in America (among others).
But Daniel Ricciardo genuinely likes to drive his Renault Megane RS Trophy on his days off – and it’s not as much of a sacrifice in performance as you might think. As Ricciardo told The Sunday Times last year, “If I want some fun, then the Mégane R.S. is really grippy.”
News.com.au’s Thursday piece backs that up, and provides us with a few extra details on this spicy hot hatch: “Topping the Megane RS range now that the lightweight carbon-fibre clad Trophy-R has sold out, Renault’s circa-$63,500 drive-away Megane Trophy has the same engine as the Trophy-R, as well as rear seats, a less fanatical weight obsession and a saving of about $20,000.”
“The Trophy adds eye-catching 19-inch wheels with red highlights, sports exhaust, retuned suspension and more,” News.com.au reports. However, “This is not a comfortable car… Renault engineers did not observe the trend to fit fast cars with multi-mode suspension and instead specified fixed-rate springs and dampers aided by rally-bred hydraulic bump stops. The result is a machine with impressive body control when driven hard and an uncompromisingly stiff ride around town.”
“Seats and steering wheel get a motorsport vibe thanks to leather and Alcantara (we’re puzzled by the latter’s placement on the top and bottom of the wheel rim, as if we drive with hands at 12 and six). Among other moans: the paddle-shifters in the auto version are fixed to the steering column, not the wheel, and are much too small; the portrait-style touchscreen freezes from time to time; and it needs proper sports seats.”
Anything else? Apparently so: “Fast, loud and engaging… the 1.8-litre turbo works hard, abetted by the whip-crack action of the brilliant dual-clutch transmission. The new exhaust, extra power and more focused suspension make it a memorable proposition.”
The only hang-ups, according to News.com.au’s review, are the “skatey Bridgestone tyres” and “divisive rear-wheel steering” (some owners love how the car swivels from the rear to rotate into bends, but critics call it unstable and artificial feeling).
If anyone knows how to handle this though, it’s Daniel Ricciardo.