The Renaultsport Megane has always been the purist’s hot hatch. And although the new stripped-out Trophy-R model is about as serious as hot hatches get, this latest Trophy 275 is a little bit more usable.
Sitting neatly between the regular Renault Megane 265 and the Trophy-R, it offers an Akrapovic exhaust, an extra 10bhp over the basic car and the Cup pack as standard, including a limited slip-diff and a stiffer suspension set-up.
A few visual clues set the Trophy apart, too, including the lettering on the front splitter and the decals on the flanks. Climb aboard and you’ll also notice some special numbered Trophy door sills – only 100 of these cars are coming to the UK, after all.
There’s also the small issue of a £1,500 price premium over a regular Megane 265 with the optional Cup chassis. So is it worth the extra?
Holding the standard Alcantara steering wheel and firing up the tuned 2.0-litre turbo engine, you can sense the Trophy is just that little bit more special. It sounds a bit meatier, and lifting off the throttle in-gear will cause the growling exhaust to erupt into a flurry of pops and bangs.
But while it sounds better than the standard car, it doesn’t necessarily feel much quicker. The identical 6.0-second 0-62mph time confirms it, but you’re never left wanting more power. Despite being turbocharged, the newcomer is impressively quick throughout the whole of the rev range. You get the satisfaction of running right up to the red line, just like you’re driving an old naturally aspirated hot hatch.
In corners, the Trophy feels just as good as we’ve come to expect from the hot Megane. The steering is immediate and communicative, allowing you to jump straight into the driver’s seat and feel confident exploring the car’s limits from the very first bend.
It may take you some time to find those limits, though. There’s so much front-end grip on offer that you’ll barely ever notice a hint of understeer on public roads. And with the limited-slip differential fitted here, you can get on the power surprisingly early out of a corner and you won’t find the wheels uselessly scrabbling away.
We’ve come to love the Ford Fiesta ST for its playful chassis, which responds more readily than most other cars to throttle lifts and dabs of the brake, and the Megane 275 Trophy provides the same kind of thrills.
In a car with this kind of grip, you need seats with great side support, and the Trophy’s Recaros are among the best out there. You feel absolutely locked in place through bends, where you’d be desperately holding on to the steering wheel in any other car.
But there’s always a trade-off with something that corners so well, and it comes in the form of an unforgiving ride. Every single ridge and bump in the road finds its way into the cabin, and hitting a pothole will shake the whole car.
Having driven a SEAT Leon Cupra or the similarly priced VW Golf R, we’d have to say the Megane really is too firm for everyday use. Last time we drove this car it was fitted with adjustable Ohlins dampers (a £2,000 option), and it seemed a little more adept at flowing smoothly over rough roads.
Otherwise, just stick with a standard Megane 265 and do without the Cup pack – the softer set-up is far more bearable, albeit still not as comfy as the cheaper, faster Leon. And if you do go for a basic 265, you’ll save around £3,000 over this new car.
Bearing in mind that the regular Renaultsport Megane will still out-handle just about every other hot hatch on the market, it’s tricky to justify the extra outlay for the Trophy. The Renault R-Link infotainment comes as standard, with a three-year subscription to TomTom sat-nav setting you back £150.
If you really want the best-handling hot hatch out there, then the stripped-out Trophy-R is more your thing anyway. It may cost a whopping £36,430, but it weighs 101kg less than the Trophy thanks to the removal of the back seats, rear wiper, sound deadening and air-con. And with only 30 of those coming to the UK, it’s even more exclusive.
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