What is it?
This is a final, splendid throw of the dice. The introduction of a new generation of Mégane means that Renault will end production of the current Renault Sport version in July, making the Cup-S the last, fleeting opportunity to buy Dieppe’s long-standing masterpiece.
To help generate some shutting-up-shop volume, the manufacturer has returned the model to its roots. So while there’s nothing substantially new or different about the car, there is still a reason to get excited about the Cup-S: namely, its cut-price theme.
This is prudent. As good as the recent Trophy and Trophy-R were (think ‘extremely’), it became harder and harder to recommend them whole-heartedly when, for much the same outlay, you could have the all-round, real-world magnificence of the much more civilised Volkswagen Golf R.
The Cup-S rectifies that problem. You now get Trophy-spec power – in other words, the full 271bhp – with the Cup chassis (stiffened springs, dampers plus the limited-slip diff) for just £23,935 on the road. Inevitably, you lose some niceties (there’s a 275 Nav version that reinstates the 7.0in touchscreen, DAB tuner, dual-zone climate control and satellite navigation), but the throwback theme isn’t stringent enough to deny you 18in wheels, air-con, cruise control and rear parking sensors.
This means that if you avoid the temptation to go all tick-happy at the optioning phase, the Cup-S could be yours for around £3500 less than the significantly slower (and less talented) Volkswagen Golf GTI. You’ll only be paying about £2k more than Renault wants for the less substantial Clio RS 220 Trophy – and in return you’ll be getting what is arguably the pre-eminent hot hatch of the decade.