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What’s all this about, then?
In June this year, Renault set a new ‘Ring lap record for a FWD car, pounding around the 12.9-mile Green Hell in 7m54s.
And this is that car?
Not quite. Renault’s ‘Ring record breaker, the Megane Trophy-R, was a stripped-to-the-bare-metal bastard - no rear windscreen wiper, no radio, no noise insulation. This Megane Trophy aims to add a little in the way of real-world comfort.
So it’s a standard Megane RS, then?
Again, not quite. The Trophy has the uprated version of Renault’s 2.0 turbo four from the Trophy-R, which makes 271bhp at 5,500rpm, a 10bhp jump on the standard Megane RS. It also uses the same Akrapovič titanium exhaust, which saves weight and sounds like a shoot-out in a munitions factory. You can also spec adjustable Öhlins dampers and circuit-hungry Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres.
Any other upgrades?
Much jewellery. The Trophy gets a carbon tailpipe, red-stitched seats and a set of rather natty (optional) 19in black-gloss wheels. Oh, and the smartest, slimmest, Alcantara-clad steering wheel in the business.
How does it drive?
Our test car boasted neither the optional dampers nor tyres, and, we’ll be honest, we struggled to spot the extra power. So the Trophy remains much as the Megane RS ever was: a no-compromise brute of a hot hatch, gobbling down B-roads with a voracious appetite, thumping potholes into submission, tingling with sensation. It’s a car that requires much concentration to get the most out of, but one that rewards you more than any other hot hatch when you do.
Is it the best hot hatch you can buy?
The Megane RS stretches the three-door formula so far in the performance direction - eschewing everyday school-run friendliness in favour of raw dynamics - that it’s arguable whether it should be classed as a traditional hot hatch rather than a specialist coupe. If you want a subtle school-run hero, the Golf R - with 4WD and the option of five doors - is a smart bet. If you’re more of a trail-brake-and-flick-the-apex type, the Megane remains king of the ‘Ring.