The Megane is too professional for such time-wasting showboating. It’s the one car here that feels track sharp from the moment you open one of the long, light doors to when you bring it to a halt using the firm, hard brakes. Ooh, it’s so good, this Cup version. It won’t be for everyone, it doesn’t have the rounded persona of the Golf or Focus, but if your hot-hatch-buying criteria list starts with driving purity, then this is the car for you. It has the best steering, the most responsive chassis and delivers more feel through more places than the others. The RS is tight and sharp - as much serious sports car as hot hatch.
The Astra mimics it in places, because, despite its flaws, it knows how to get round a corner. Nothing here has more grip (but, then, nothing has wider tyres) and the chassis’ ability is beyond doubt. It’ll dig deeper than either the Golf or Focus can manage and acquit itself well in the process. The problem is that this polished, capable, composed chassis isn’t a good communicator. There’s less seat-of-the-pants feel than in the Renault, and the steering is, well, unsatisfying.