What is it?
The Renaultsport Megane 250 was a very impressive hot hatch that just missed the greatness achieved by the old Renaultsport Clio 200. But then, Renault launched a Trophy special edition, with an extra 15bhp plus a set of chassis tweaks that helped further hone it. The firm then took it to the Nürburgring, and broke the lap record for fastest front-drive hot hatch. These changes have now been standardised on the rest: unsurprisingly, called the Renaultsport Megane 265.
For 2014, it gets a new nose, and the cheaper, stripped-back Cup is gone; a Cup Chassis Pack is a £1,350 option on the regular £27k car. It’s a lot to spend on an ageing Renault. But given how mellow the Clio 200 now is, enthusiasts will justify it...
No two ways about it, the Renaultsport Megane is a more grown up affair than brutally focused previous generation cars. It actually does a very good job of providing both refinement and dramatic involvement, something that’s been perfected further in 265 guise. Indeed, you actually get the best of both worlds: default power is the previous 250bhp, with 265bhp being accessed via the rather snazzy Renaultsport Dynamic Management system. Press the ESC button to engage it: this also makes the exhaust louder. It’s channelled to the tarmac cleanly through a good old fashioned mechanical limited-slip differential. The standard car is firmly sprung but rides supremely well. The Cup pack is even more firmly spring but even more involving. It’s a tricky task, being the best of both worlds, and the new Golf GTI does ultimately judge it marginally better, but the Megane is still undeniably impressive nonetheless.
On the inside
The high-quality Megane cockpit is enhanced in Renaultsport 265 guise with some focused additions, questionable yellow trim and, in the Cup, a sublime set of hard-backed sports seats. It’s quite grown up and a little on the refined side, but there’s still a layer of engagement to be had. Subtle sporting intent, rather than a full-on sports effect.
There’s one big problem with the Renaultsport Megane 265, as we’ve mentioned: it’s an expensive car. The must-have Cup pack means it effectively starts at almost £28,500, which is eye-watering when cars as good as the new Seat Leon Cupra are around. The hot Megane isn’t the most economical of cars either, meaning it’s still a heart-over-head decision – but with one exception: the Megane range now gets a four-year warranty, the best of any similarly potent hot hatch. That’s got to give you confidence if you’re the hard-driving type...