From £15,920
Small power hike has a great big effect on Renaultsport's fastest car, rekindling the fire of the old R26

Our Verdict

It's hard to make a case for any of the non-sporting Megane range

The Renault Megane looks bland, and it's not that good to drive either

What is it?

Renault has savagely pruned its UK range, but it knows what it is good at and the Renaultsport cars are safe. The whole Renault Megane range has had a refresh with extra splashes of chrome or gloss black inside, and further mutants of the already mutant-looking nose now with strips of daytime LEDs. These form part of the 'F1 blade' on the Renaultsport models, which can also have a Red Design pack with red accents on the blade, the side strakes, the rear diffuser and the wheel rims.

That's how you might spot the latest Renaultsport Megane, but more important is that the 261bhp previously restricted to the limited-run Trophy version is now on tap in the regular cars, now (metrically) known as Renaultsport Megane 265. As usual there are Cup and normal versions, the latter costing an extra £1200 (making £26,025) and featuring squashier seats, various superfluous gadgets and softer suspension.

Also as usual you can have the Cup chassis on your non-Cup, the £1350 it costs bringing you a GKN torque-biasing differential (maximum torque-difference ratio 2.3 to one) as well as the firmer suspension with 35 per cent stiffer front springs, 38 per cent stiffer rear ones and an overall 15 per cent rise in roll stiffness. Red calipers for the Brembo brakes, too.

What’s it like?

But the key thing is the enhanced engine. You have to press the ESP button to switch it from the former 247bhp default position to the new 261bhp, simultaneously loosening the ESP strictures. Keep it pressed and all traction and stability aids are extinguished and the Megane 265's true character can show through.

Some cars get a bit unruly when the electronics are off, suggesting the systems have a bit of a sticking-plaster role. Not so the 265. On the fast-but-technical Monte Blanco circuit the Cup proved as friendly as a 2.0-litre hatchback able to hit just shy of 160mph can be, tucking in beautifully as you come off the brakes and turn, drifting all-of-a-piece if the entry speed was too ambitious, nailing the torque to the road as you spear towards the exit and the diff does its stuff.

It's the sort of car that helps you out, waits for you to act, works with you without imposing an agenda. And it's mighty rapid: the 250 could feel curiously flat and undramatic, especially after the old-generation R26, but the bite and the brilliant torque spread are right back in the 265 along with the deep, granular exhaust note overlaid with the whoosh of expelled air plus some upshift pops and bangs for good measure. The almost-racing Recaros and the optional telemetry system add to the drama, too.

We didn't get to drive the Cup on the road, but we did try the regular 265 which still has the same non-steering front struts with separate hub carriers steering on an outboard axis. It's meant to reduce torque steer, but such are the forces involved that there's still some gentle tugging.

Should I buy one?

It's all part of the 265's talkative nature, which goes well with the explosive overtaking ability and the way this car rewards gentle, delicate, measured inputs. I reckon the non-Cup chassis is just fine for road use, firm but never harsh, ultra-responsive, always rewarding, and on dry roads you don't really miss the clever differential. Either way, the Renaultsport 265 is one of the truly great hot hatches. Even if Renault does call it a coupe.

-John Simister

Renaultsport Megane 265 Cup

Price: £24,825; 0-62mph: 6.0sec; Top speed: 158mph; Economy: 34.4mpg; CO2: 190g/km; Kerbweight: 1379kg; Engine type, cc: 4cyls, 1998cc, petrol, turbo; Installation: Transverse; Power: 261bhp at 5500rpm; Torque: 265lb ft at 3000-5000rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

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Comments
12

22 March 2012

What a brilliant little car! The ultimate hot hatch! And pretty good value at under £25,000.

22 March 2012

Oh dear, the red highlighting really clashes with the yellow lol

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22 March 2012

Price: £24,825; 0-62mph: 6.0sec; Top speed: 158mph; Economy: 34.4mpg; CO2: 190g/km; Kerbweight: 1379kg; Engine type, cc: 4cyls, 1998cc, petrol, turbo; Installation: Transverse; Power: 261bhp at 5500rpm; Torque: 265lb ft at 3000-5000rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual Price: tba; Top speed: 172mph; 0-62mph: 5.0sec; Economy: 35.3mpg (combined); CO2: 188g/km; Kerb weight: 1350kg; Engine type:, Horizontally-opposed six-cylinder, 3436cc petrol; Power: 311ps at 6700rpm; Torque: 265lb ft at 4500rpm; Gearbox: 7-speed dual clutch

23 March 2012

[quote simon955]Price: £24,825; 0-62mph: 6.0sec; Top speed: 158mph; Economy: 34.4mpg; CO2: 190g/km; Kerbweight: 1379kg; Engine type, cc: 4cyls, 1998cc, petrol, turbo; Installation: Transverse; Power: 261bhp at 5500rpm; Torque: 265lb ft at 3000-5000rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual

Price: tba; Top speed: 172mph; 0-62mph: 5.0sec; Economy: 35.3mpg (combined); CO2: 188g/km; Kerb weight: 1350kg; Engine type:, Horizontally-opposed six-cylinder, 3436cc petrol; Power: 311ps at 6700rpm; Torque: 265lb ft at 4500rpm; Gearbox: 7-speed dual clutch[/quote] What's the second one?

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Woohoo! Page 2 and more are now back open for business Biggrin

jer

23 March 2012

I am surprised I do not see more on the road.

23 March 2012

There is the car that the Astra VXR will have to beat to be the best hot hatch.

23 March 2012

[quote superstevie]What's the second one?[/quote] it must be a porsche...is it the new boxster??

23 March 2012

This is one part of the market where 'volume' brands still rule the roost.

Ford, Vauxhall and Renault will all have seriously good c.£25k hot hatchbacks in 2012, in order to match their performance brands like Audi, BMW and VW have to charge a lot more money for cars that, in some cases, are inferior.

Can't wait for this multi-car test in the mag: Giulietta Cloverleaf, Audi S3 (bit old perhaps), Focus ST, Mazda3 MPS, Megane 265 Cup, Astra VXR and Golf R.


23 March 2012

[quote simon955]Price: tba; Top speed: 172mph; 0-62mph: 5.0sec; Economy: 35.3mpg (combined); CO2: 188g/km; Kerb weight: 1350kg; Engine type:, Horizontally-opposed six-cylinder, 3436cc petrol; Power: 311ps at 6700rpm; Torque: 265lb ft at 4500rpm; Gearbox: 7-speed dual clutch[/quote] [quote superstevie]What's the second one?[/quote] Quick search reveals it is the new boxster. Not quite sure the connection.

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Woohoo! Page 2 and more are now back open for business Biggrin

23 March 2012

Phenomenal. I'd have one in blue.

Almost 160mph for less than £25k...

Off to Autotrader to look for second hand Renaultsport Clios... again.

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