Apologies that you join this test while I’m driving the oldest car here, and apologies that you join this test mid-corner.
It’s just pertinent to tell you that I’m driving the Renault Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy – do you mind if I variously shorten that name at times? – and its cornering balance is less neutral than I remember.
The Trophy, which is Autocar’s long-term test car, has done a couple of photo shoots on closed circuits and a track day at Spa since it arrived with us a month or so ago. And from inside, it feels like they haven’t been kind to its front tyres.
That’s pertinent, because the Renault’s 271bhp is a hefty amount of power to divert through the front wheels. We’ve thought so before, when a Ford Focus RS we ran needed three tyre changes in 12,000 miles, and I don’t wonder that we will think so again.
The reason it’s pertinent now is because the Renault isn’t even the most powerful front-wheel-drive hot hatchback currently on the block. That accolade now goes to the reason the Renault is on this page at all, which is the arrival of Honda’s new Civic Type R.
Like previous Type Rs, it is front driven. Unlike previous Type Rs, and like the Renault, it comes with a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine rather than the usual Type R solution, namely a high-revving naturally aspirated unit. When even Honda is fitting turbocharged engines to its performance cars, you know turbos are here to stay.
And because Honda was so serious about the new Type R’s track capabilities, particularly around the Nürburgring Nordschleife, it has blessed the car with 35bhp more than the Renault. With 306bhp, that makes it the most powerful front-drive hot hatch currently in production.