It represents one last turn of the product crank handle Dieppe has been enthusiastically turning since 2004. Potentially, given the division’s track record (and its eagerness for actual track records), the final version could have been another skeletal masterpiece in the Trophy-R vein, perhaps divested of passenger seat and dashboard this time and tickled even closer to 300bhp – a front-drive racing car in all but name.
But it’s not. It would take time and money to fine-tune such a car, and with Renault shutting down production in July, the Cup-S is a final, volume-generating throw of the dice rather than a last-gasp effort for yet more kudos. Which is perfect for two reasons.
Number one, simplicity has made the Mégane cheap – really cheap. The starting price for a Cup-S is £23,935. For that, you get air-con, cruise control, a stereo, Bluetooth, an alarm, some RS cloth upholstery, the RS kickplate and dials, the bodykit look and a set of 18in alloys.
There’s no infotainment touchscreen, though, and no DAB, no sat-nav, no climate control, no Recaros or Alcantara. But it does have the stiffened Cup chassis, which means you get the limited-slip differential.
You also get the full 271bhp that was previously the preserve of Trophy cars. And because Renault Sport cars have always tended to be at their most appealing when affordability underpins the lap times, the Cup-S stands a very good chance of being thought of as one of the best.
The second reason is that, kitted out thus, the model bows out as the prime example of what we still believe a hot hatch ought to look, feel and drive like.
No one has applauded louder the advent of the supremely capable Volkswagen Golf R, but its popularity – and the introduction of assuredly upmarket options, such as the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45 – has encouraged a market shift towards a high-cost, high-output and almost exclusively all-wheel-drive breed of mega-hatch.