Steering, suspension and ride comfort

The best news to report here isn’t to do with other-worldly lateral grip or physics-defying body control. It’s that, despite its obvious superpowers, the Trophy-R remains a fast Mégane with all of the outstanding facets that we’ve come to revere, given increasingly flavourless rivals.

It hasn’t been warped into a pastiche with a few aspects of its dynamic talent amplified out of all proportion, so much as transported onto a higher level of speed and excitement whole and unaltered.

The Renault's suspension set-up makes you work hard on a bumpy B-road

Which isn’t meant to suggest that the Trophy-R rides like a normal Mégane RS, or is equally easy to guide down a bumpy B-road. You earn your corn in this car. Although the ride isn’t heinously crashy, the suspension is firm and the tyre sidewalls are unsympathetically hard and thin. The wheels skip between short, sharp lumps and bumps when the road surface suddenly turns cruel.

In the meantime, every one of those bumps is felt through the bristling, weighty, scalpel-precise steering and will frequently knock the car slightly off course. Plenty of rival hot hatchbacks make better fast road cars than this, it’s true. But none is more involving or more devoted to providing tactile vivid thrills when the opportunity presents.

And when it does – on a dry track day with plenty of more powerful machinery to pursue – the Trophy-R’s hardcore temperament serves up an absolute riot of a driving experience. Huge grip levels, feelsome and well balanced controls and benign but still absorbing front-drive handling manners inspire tons of confidence and allow you to carry heroic cornering speeds.

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The car is typically balanced, directionally responsive and adjustable as you begin to approach the edge of its hold on the asphalt and permits more slip angle than anything front-drive has a right to. It’s stable, too, but to put it simply, you probably won’t go faster or have more fun on a circuit in anything save the very finest sports cars and supercars.

In the wet, on the wrong road, in a train of traffic and elsewhere, you’ll pay for that devotion. But, if you’re like us, you’ll very seldom regret it. The crowning achievement of the Trophy-R is how purposeful, rewarding and three-dimensional its handling is on a dry circuit. No driver would ever get out of it and say “it’s a shame that it’s front drive” because the car gives you every option not just to pick your line but also to tweak your cornering attitude.

It takes a while to get used to the sheer tenacity of the car’s adhesion to the asphalt, which is as high as any track special from Lotus or Porsche. In the dry, that is. In the wet, those Cup tyres do struggle for grip, although the fundamental chassis balance and controllability of the car are preserved.

Braking stability is excellent either way, and stopping power is huge in the dry, so you’ll only ever be braking into an apex by choice. You might choose to, though, because there’s wonderful cornering balance in the handling mix that allows you to point the car’s nose at the exit of a corner early, and simply open up the taps to straighten it out. Front-drivers rarely have such poise when driven so hard.