2000 Renault MeganeYou may have noticed our test cars are getting a bit… different of late: first, a Caterham Seven 160, then a van and now this, a 2000 Renault Megane.

Don’t worry – we’ve had our share of supercar stuff (indeed, there was an Audi R8 in just last week), but it’s important as journos to come down to earth occasionally.

And nothing brings one down to earth with a bigger bang than an old French heap. So why’ve we got it? Well, my trusty Mazda MX-5 has gone in for its typical 170k service (including plenty of welding), so the garage has loaned me this for a week.

First impressions? It really is awful, but comically so. I used to run a Mk1 Ford Focus – and so far I’ve no idea why any sensible person would buy a Megane over the Focus.

megane2

However… I’m having a bit of a blast with it. The steering is vaguer than a journalist facing Leveson, but that makes it hilarious to punt along. You have no idea how much grip is left in the tyres until you run out, and that means making progress on slippery country lanes is a haphazard affair, but all the more fun for it.

The radio doesn’t work, so I’ve no choice but to enjoy the sound of the 4-cylinder 1.4-litre engine often bouncing off the rev limiter in an attempt to hurl it along at, well, not particularly fast speeds.

But that’s the thing about a car like this – I find myself driving it like a 17-year-old, not wanting to lose face to reps in their turbocharged Audi diesels. And it’s sort of hilarious.

Of course, being an old French car, it’s bound to break down. In fact, it did, for the previous loanee. Which means I was probably a bit silly not to arrange breakdown cover as suggested by the garage – but life is boring without an element of risk.

I’ve already found myself looking at Auto Trader at warm French hatches – I wouldn’t want a Megane, but maybe something like a Peugeot 306 would hit the spot.

I’m sure sense will return when I get my MX-5 back next week…