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Old 01-17-2011, 04:43 AM   #1
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Default Quick Drive: Renaultsport Megane RS250 Cup






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It’s a good thing I’ve had a few weeks since I drove the 250 Cup to really put it into perspective. Getting behind the wheel of many cars since then, the treasure of unforgettable memories of the Renault remain etched in the cerebral, with precious little being able to unseat it. Such is the breadth of talents of the car – it is probably one of the most drivable Renaultsport cars to date, and yet it also holds the distinction of being one of the very best.


Perhaps one of the defining aspects of the car is that it really means business. Unlike the leather-clad Recaros of some of its rivals, Renault went all out to offer a proper spine-clinging, body-hugging two-piece cloth Recaro that would definitely draw more than a few complaints from the parents. The luscious coupe profile also doesn’t look out of place with striking yellow or red colours, a good thing considering that the car really looks outstanding in those hues. The suspension also makes no apologies about its purpose, although even in a Cup chassis it is quite acceptable. You don’t really notice how harsh it is until the road gets pretty rough. Perhaps thanks in part to the Michelin PS3 tyres, the car is also amazingly quiet considering what its engine is capable of; idle is nearly undetectable and the engine is as smooth as the best inline-4s in the business. Perhaps quite atypically of French cars, the 250 really does feel very well engineered and polished inside and out, something that contributes to the wholesome appeal of the car. No quirky French bits here; it is a true Renaultsport in every way.






Sitting in the driver’s seat, you are immediately put in the mood for driving. The seat locks you in place so you feel secure despite any silly manoeuvres you may attempt. Move off in first and the clutch first takes you aback with its delicate bite; the sharp throttle also demands precision from the driver. You start to drive in a way that is a lot more careful, measured and exacting. That is no bad thing as it is quick to adapt to and once you do, there are many more accurate inputs you can make. Once you figured out the onboard track computer, it is quite addicting to set your best 0-100km/h timing as it resets every time you come to a complete stop. Way to go to promote responsible driving.


Warming up the car and potting around under 3,000rpm and you’re a bit underwhelmed with the power. It does not feel lethargic but it isn’t sparkling either – you certainly feel that the engine is capable of a lot more and it eggs you on to bring it to the limiter. Which, of course, you submit to and then you discover where the power really is. The engine is a gem, a true thriller which rewards a hard driver who allows the engine to stretch to its redline. There is a hollow, angry rush of air that indicates the spooling turbo, followed by a loud suction-like sound from the exhaust that crescendo into a climax. You want to hear more but then the rev limiter sounds, telling you ‘good job, now change up’ and you bang the slick short-shifter into the next gear, ready for another round of epiphany. Such is the engine’s mind-blowing top-end delivery that you will find yourself always wanting to get the engine up to that stratospheric limit, feeling rather dissatisfied if you left the engine to its own devices lower down the rev range. Good thing then that the gearbox really encourages you to shift – the knob is small and grasp is easy and firm. It certainly took the efforts of true car enthusiasts to manufacture the gearknob to such a wonderful design. The pedals are also aptly positioned, allowing an easy heel-and-toe even for a novice like me who still causes whiplash once in a while due to a bad blip.


So the drivetrain’s settled – it is absolutely brilliant. What is astounding is that the chassis is even better. Given a serpentine road, the stiff suspension gives confidence to put the car through its paces. On boost, the car will hardly slip mid-corner and the amount of grip you get from this front-driver is fabulous. You just want to push more and more, feeling more confidence with every turn. When faced with a hump, I was also told to go through it without braking. I wasn’t so sure that the damping of the 250 Cup was designed to take humps like these at about 40mph, but I did anyway. The front lip didn’t even scrape – the car was absolutely composed and went over the hump without any drama. The damping is so sophisticated that you feel it can take nearly anything you throw at it, and yet it is able to offer relatively flat cornering. In this test drive, due to the time constraints the car was only driven in the normal settings. There is the ‘Extreme’ mode which I hear brings the car to a whole new level. I can’t wait to try that at the next opportunity.





Parking the car back at the garage, one considers the Renault. It is built solidly; one really must marvel at how far French cars have come. The 250 Cup really feels like a complete package with no compromises unlike its French predecessors of old. The engine is great, the ride is speechlessly superb and yet, it can be used as a daily driver rather easily (with a lot of runs to the redline of course). Renault has built a winner here, the car that deservedly takes the crown away from the R32 as a true driver’s car. Thing is, are you willing to swallow the depreciation?
http://www.autosavant.com/2011/01/14...ane-rs250-cup/
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Old 01-17-2011, 07:13 AM   #2
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"Mind blowing top end" yet the redline is at 6k?!
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Old 01-17-2011, 07:20 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by shikataganai View Post
"Mind blowing top end" yet the redline is at 6k?!
And then? If the shift puts the RPMs back in the meat of the powerband at 3k rpm, why would that be a problem? Not everyone needs a high-revving motor.

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Old 01-17-2011, 07:35 AM   #4
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love the looks of the car
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Old 01-17-2011, 07:51 AM   #5
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And then? If the shift puts the RPMs back in the meat of the powerband at 3k rpm, why would that be a problem? Not everyone needs a high-revving motor.

--kC
The article says the motor's sleepy under 3k. That "mind blowing top end" must be confined to 4-6k then.
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Old 01-17-2011, 07:56 AM   #6
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The article says the motor's sleepy under 3k. That "mind blowing top end" must be confined to 4-6k then.
No... 3-6K. Under 3k is 2.9 and lower. 3-6... just like a stock 2.0l WRXwhen boost comes on (but had another whopping .5k rpm for redline).

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Old 01-17-2011, 10:54 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by shikataganai View Post
"Mind blowing top end" yet the redline is at 6k?!
What does the redline have to do with it? Top end is relative.
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Old 01-17-2011, 10:57 AM   #8
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The article says the motor's sleepy under 3k. That "mind blowing top end" must be confined to 4-6k then.
Seems about right. 2k RPM is a typical span of what is often considered "top end". EJ20 5k-7k, S54 5900-7900, EJ25 4500-6500, etc.
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Old 01-17-2011, 12:29 PM   #9
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And to think that thing's related to the crapbox Sentra
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Old 01-17-2011, 01:04 PM   #10
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I do like how drastically the Megan changes every time it's restyled. The original one was very dull, the second very distinctive, and now the third very hard to see out of the back window...
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Old 01-17-2011, 03:43 PM   #11
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I do like how drastically the Megan changes every time it's restyled. The original one was very dull, the second very distinctive, and now the third very hard to see out of the back window...
It's French. French is about fashion. Fashion is by its nature to become un-fashionable.
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Old 01-17-2011, 06:25 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by shikataganai View Post
"Mind blowing top end" yet the redline is at 6k?!
Actually, the redline is probably 6.5K. The "red zone" starts at 6K, but there's around 500 RPM of over rev before the limiter. I'm trying to get the actual number from the French website.
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:44 AM   #13
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I think 3000rpm band is rather wide, and if the gearbox is appropriately spaced it will feel fantastic.
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Old 10-09-2013, 02:44 AM   #14
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Facelift












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The Mégane R.S are evolving in keeping with the new Renault design identity.
In addition, the Mégane R.S has received the R.S Display function available on the R.S Monitor 2.0.
With the 2-litre 16V 265 engine, a limited slip differential, a front drive train with double-axis front suspension and a choice between two chassis (Sport or Cup), the Mégane R.S includes a raft of technologies illustrating Renault Sport's know-how.
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Old 10-09-2013, 08:06 AM   #15
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Nery nice. I do like the colour.

--kC
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Old 10-09-2013, 11:25 AM   #16
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I got the erroneous impression from the Top Gear review that these things came with plastic rear windows and a roll cage. It seems that was just one special version.

Seems like a great car. Why oh why can't Nissan bring a re-badged one to the US? The compact end of their range is in serious need of some spice.
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Old 10-09-2013, 12:28 PM   #17
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Because Nissan isn´t Renault and the times of the R26R are long time gone


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Old 10-09-2013, 06:56 PM   #18
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Because Nissan isn´t Renault.
Tell that to Carlos Ghosn.

Chrysler isn't Fiat either, but the Dodge Dart is an elongated, re-badged Alfa Romeo Giulietta.

Why does everybody around here have to get so pedantic.
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Old 11-27-2013, 12:49 AM   #19
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It's always been one of those 'down the pub' type of questions: how much faster could a road car be made to go if you fitted it with a set of slick tyres?

And would you even be able to drive it on slicks anyway, given how sensitive all the electronic systems are on modern road cars nowadays?

The answer is, yes you can, and the extra speed you can generate when doing so will most likely frazzle your mind. We proved as much when we went to the Motor Industry Research Association recently with a standard Rénaultsport Mégane 265 and a pile of various Avon tyres.

The Mégane normally comes with either Dunlop Sport Maxx or MichelinPilot Sport tyres fitted as standard, but to get a benchmark time I first drove it around the same handling circuit we use for our road tests on a set of Avon's tastiest high-performance road tyres, the ZZ5s (Avon's equivalent of a Pilot Sport, basically).

The art of tyre testing is a black one, of course, but the key thing to achieve is a consistent set of lap times so that you know, with absolute certainty, that it's the tyre generating the lap time and not you being especially handy on one particular lap or corner. So only when you can lap within a couple of tenths of a second on three laps consecutively do you actually start measuring the data.

After a few laps getting up to speed I did a 1min 16.4sec on the ZZ5s, then 1min 16.3sec, followed by another 1min 16.4secs. So that's what the Mégane will do with me at the wheel on a set of high-performance Avon road tyres.

At that point we bolted on a set of Avon's slick tyres – the same compound used in GT racing – and got the stopwatches out once more. Avon's chief lunatic – sorry, chief tyre tester – and all-round good chap Jaques Jansen wasn't sure precisely how much faster the Mégane would go on the slicks, but his guess was that it could be "half a second, maybe a second quicker at a pinch".

After a couple of gentle laps to warm them up I started to push the Mégane's slicks a little bit harder, and instantly the car felt like it was glued. The steering was a touch heavier but there were no antics whatsoever from the traction control or the ESP systems. Instead, the Renault just felt pinned everywhere. I could carry much more speed into and generate massively more traction out of each corner, and under brakes it was spooky how much sharper the Mégane felt.

The result was that on my third lap I did a 1min 13.3sec, followed by a 1min 13.2sec, and then another 1min 13.3sec. Which meant that, on average, the Mégane was fully 3.3sec faster around the lap. Fitting it with a set of slicks meant the Mégane could lap the circuit in the same time that we've previously recorded for a Porsche Cayman S. Which, you'll agree, is a fairly incredible achievement.

Imagine, after all, how much more power you'd have to throw at the car to get it to go 3.3sec faster around the same circuit but using the same tyres? At least another 150bhp, possibly more. And then imagine how much money you'd have to spend on the engine to get it to generate that extra 150-200bhp. Or you could just bolt on a set of slicks – costing approximately £200 a corner – and blow pretty much everything away at your next track-day.

The really spooky realisation came a bit later, though, when we did the same thing on MIRA's wet handling circuit. On the high-performance road tyres the Mégane lapped in 1min 16.7sec and felt like a right handful with all the electronic systems switched off, as they had been during the dry laps. Then on the slicks it did a 1min 18sec flat and, for some peculiar reason, felt less edgy subjectively than it had on the road tyres.

Not one of us expected that. The time the Mégane did on slicks, in the soaking wet, in the sort of conditions in which you'd expect it to be a complete nightmare, was amazing: just 1.3sec slower than it had gone on Avon's very best road tyre.

Slick tyres, eh? If only they were road legal!
http://www.autocar.co.uk/blogs/anyth...ch-slick-tyres
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Old 11-27-2013, 06:58 AM   #20
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Ya know, this is one of them articles that gets filed under "No duh!"

--kC
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:36 AM   #21
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While I agree, it is a no duh moment, but it does ask a very good question, that we at NASIOC often throw up. Is it the car that is good, or the tires. THe 2002 WRX was crippled with terrible All Season tires, that did not put up good magazine numbers. THe tire can make the car. Many of the GM cars of past (turbo cobalt SS to name one) got amazing lap times primarily due to its OEM tires.

This also goes on to point out that tires are the single biggest thing you can do to transform your cars performance.
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Old 11-27-2013, 10:32 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by SCRAPPYDO View Post
While I agree, it is a no duh moment, but it does ask a very good question, that we at NASIOC often throw up. Is it the car that is good, or the tires. THe 2002 WRX was crippled with terrible All Season tires, that did not put up good magazine numbers. THe tire can make the car. Many of the GM cars of past (turbo cobalt SS to name one) got amazing lap times primarily due to its OEM tires.

This also goes on to point out that tires are the single biggest thing you can do to transform your cars performance.
Absolutely. And it's why all the magazine numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt. Different weather conditions can have a big enough impact that cars tested on different days will put up very different numbers. Different tires? Fogetaboutit.

I realize the magazine business is not the most robust these days, but it's still very tiring to hear them hide behind the "car designed for the tires" line. There have been some notable exceptions like the test (R&T?) done where they swapped the Prius tires off the BRZ, but in many comparos they barely mention the difference in the tires, which allows some manufacturers to game the system. C&D's Lightning lap is pretty well done, and to the tire point the Z07 version of the Z06 Corvette was almost five seconds faster than the normal version.
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Old 11-27-2013, 11:00 AM   #23
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Absolutely. And it's why all the magazine numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt. Different weather conditions can have a big enough impact that cars tested on different days will put up very different numbers. Different tires? Fogetaboutit.

I realize the magazine business is not the most robust these days, but it's still very tiring to hear them hide behind the "car designed for the tires" line. There have been some notable exceptions like the test (R&T?) done where they swapped the Prius tires off the BRZ, but in many comparos they barely mention the difference in the tires, which allows some manufacturers to game the system. C&D's Lightning lap is pretty well done, and to the tire point the Z07 version of the Z06 Corvette was almost five seconds faster than the normal version.
Where do you draw the line?

What about tire widths? You think its ok to change compound/construction, what about width? Or tire height? Again, a slippery slope you're on.

How about replacing brake pads? After all, some OE pads are much better on the track than others, and they have a similar wear rate vs. tires, and are even cheaper for an owner/magazine to swap out.

You put on stickier rubber, its going to work the brakes that much harder. That wouldn't be fair to blame a car co. for inadequate fade resistance if it was a result of your sticky tires.

How about excessive body role as a result of stickier tires vs. what the car was designed for from the factory?

How about shocks? After all, manufacturers pick their tires and shocks/springs to go hand and hand toward delivering a desired ride/handling compromise.

The best you could do is ask the manufacturers to put the same rubber on all test fleet cars. Which would NEVER happen (as a result of the exclusive deals manufacturers have with certain tire companies).

You can't exactly ask an auto magazine to refit cars with thousands and thousands of dollars of rubber/brake pads for a big comparo test.

Last edited by SoapBox; 11-27-2013 at 11:06 AM.
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Old 11-27-2013, 12:35 PM   #24
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In this instance, the chassis, suspensions and brakes of the Megane RS can take full advantage of slicks. Obviously, it's not going to work with all cars out there.
For instance, while on track, Dunlop SSZ1 were sticky enough to almost completely defeat the stockish suspension (STI pink springs, larger front and rear sway bars, tired stock shocks and pathetic stockish alignment) of my 06 WRX Wagon.
However, in the sports bike world, it's pretty common for magazines to swap tires and adjust suspension settings accordingly. It's no big deal as it's understood that almost nobody goes to a bike track day on stock tires.
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Old 11-29-2013, 12:26 PM   #25
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Where do you draw the line?
<SNIP>

You can't exactly ask an auto magazine to refit cars with thousands and thousands of dollars of rubber/brake pads for a big comparo test.
I don't expect them to buy a new set of tires for every car in every comparo, but even if I did that wouldn't necessarily be unreasonable, see below. What I do expect of people calling themselves journalists is a robust attempt to eliminate bias. That means when a car's performance is obviously skewed by the manufacturer's abnormal tire choice relative to competitors, I expect at least a very robust dialog in the article. As the "referees" in the automotive sport of magazine test gamesmanship the editors could also put a "ref's adjustment" category in their points scoring system to tweak the points in a comparison test when it's obvious that a particular wear item is having a disproportionate impact. It's unlikely that anything but tires would ever rise to the level of needing that adjustment, but brake pads might. Shocks, never.

Instead magazines get regular complaints about differences in tires from their very knowledgeable readership which they either ignore, or dismiss with a once every five years article about their "objective" testing process. For any testing process to be truly objective it must also be complete, yet no magazine includes wet skidpad or slalom tests, let alone snowy ones. The differences are bad enough when one sport sedan is on all-season tires while their competitors come on summer tires, but sometimes the differences are ludicrous, particularly with high performance cars. A couple of examples:

The NSX came on tires with asymmetric internal construction which gave the tires inherent "toe", this contributed to the NSX's quick reflexes and direct steering, but the tires scrubbed even going straight and the rears wore out in ~5,000 miles. (Link Link) The NSX is still the only non track day special car I'm aware of where you had to change the tires as often as the oil. Yet in all their talk of the NSX as an "everyday supercar" I never once read a magazine mention this huge compromise made by Acura. I saw a sidebar on the unique tires, but no mention of how fast they wore and it never once factored in to comparo results. The NSX won many comparison tests based on it's excellent handling and feedback, but how much of that was due to those preposterous tires? How would the competitors have done with similar tires? Other manufacturers were quite reasonably unwilling to make the same compromise, the FD3S RX7 had the same model of Yokohama tire as the NSX but without the asymmetric carcass.

The Megane R26R posted earlier came on Toyo Proxes R888 tires which Tire Rack categorizes as "Track and Autocross Only" DOT tires, yet Top Gear compared it directly to the normal version of the Focus RS. They mentioned the tires in passing, but the R26R's time should have come off the lap board for the same reason the Caparo T1's time came down, you can't safely drive it on the street.

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In this instance, the chassis, suspensions and brakes of the Megane RS can take full advantage of slicks. Obviously, it's not going to work with all cars out there.
For instance, while on track, Dunlop SSZ1 were sticky enough to almost completely defeat the stockish suspension (STI pink springs, larger front and rear sway bars, tired stock shocks and pathetic stockish alignment) of my 06 WRX Wagon.
Slicks and DOT R-Comps like Hoosier A6/R6 are an extreme example though. Most cars could go from an A/S tire to a decent summer tire without overwhelming the suspension, and I'm pretty sure you'll never find a situation where the stickier tire is slower. Some cars will have the suspension to take better advantage of the slicks than others, but there should always be a substantial advantage to the slicks.

I'm not sure what you mean by "defeat" the suspension in your WRX. Bottoming on the bump stops during braking? I had a set of 245/40 star specs on my car for autocross and it was certainly faster than the Kumho summers I'd used up the previous week, let alone the OEM RE92s. My suspension was truly stock (D-Stock class). I did however fade my OEM brake pads at an autocross, even on those rock hard Kumhos! Subaru OEM pads are junk.

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However, in the sports bike world, it's pretty common for magazines to swap tires and adjust suspension settings accordingly. It's no big deal as it's understood that almost nobody goes to a bike track day on stock tires.
I'm no bike expert, but I understand rider safety is cited as a reason due to the greasy, unpredictable behavior of many street tires at the track, no? At any rate, it's a good point. I doubt the enthusiast motorcycle magazine business is in any better financial shape than the enthusiast car magazine business, yet they find the budget to swap tires, at least half as many as a car mag would have to. Renting a racetrack and paying the obligatory ambulance crew is not exactly cheap, yet magazines seem to be willing to do that on a regular basis to test cars.
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