What is it?
You are looking at the all-new hot version of the all-new Renault Megane, tweaked by Renaultsport to produce 247bhp, 251lb ft and 0-62mph in 6.1sec. Plus, of course, the kind of handling precision to make mincemeat out of the average British B-road.
There are two subtly different versions, both of which are front-wheel-drive and share the same updated version of the venerable 2.0-litre turbocharged, four that has appeared in all previous hot Meganes.
The cheaper Cup model costs £21,995 and comes with less equipment but a lower riding, more aggressive chassis set up than the more lavishly equipped Sport (£22,995). You can, however, specify the Cup chassis with Sport equipment levels, and that’s the version we drove yesterday on the car’s international launch in southern Spain.
Renaltsport, as ever, has thrown the entire toolbox at the Megane 250 to make it as sharp as possible on the road, without denting the car’s basic refinement irrevocably, or so it claims.
The Cup chassis is some 15 per cent stiffer than that of the Sport, but both share the same strut (front), torsion beam (rear) suspension design, including Renault’s own version of a torque steer-reducing strut that pivots slightly under load, much like Ford’s RevoKnuckle system fitted to the Focus RS. It’s made from aluminum this time, thereby reducing unsprung weight where it matters most.
There is also a new multi-stage ESP system that allows a driver to select between three different driving modes. You can switch the system off completely, have it fully engaged or select a mid-way program that allows a small amount of slip before intervening and reducing the flow of torque to the front wheels.
In Sport guise the Megane 250 comes with 18in wheels and Dunlop SP Sport rubber, while the Cup version uses more aggressive Michelin Pilot Sport tyres, also 18in. And then there’s an optional 19in wheel that comes with a set of liquorice profile Continentals attached to the rims.
Inside, a number of upgrades distinguish the 250 above and beyond its more humble brethren. In either guise it has a pair suitably hip-hugging seats up front, and unlike the previous generation R26R it also has proper rear seats.
The steering wheel is unique to the 250 and has been designed not just to feel better in the hands but also generate less inertia in use. The rev counter is a not so delicate shade of yellow, which helps lift the otherwise high quality feeling but fairly plain looking interior.
What’s it like?
Anyone expecting the raw and decidedly racy thrills of the previous geberation R26 models is going to be somewhat surprised by what they find with the new Megane 250. Even in Cup form it’s a much more refined, grown up car than its predecessors. It feels and sounds like a more expensive kind of hot hatch, and although it accelerates with even more vim than the R26 on paper, in reality it doesn’t feel quite as quick as the old timer. Or as dramatic.
Mostly this is a welcome realisation. Torque steer has been all but eradicated this time round, and even with the three stage ESP system switched off there is rarely any wheelspin once you are out of first gear. And the body control is deeply impressive, across a whole range of surfaces. It’s now the sort of hot hatch that imbues confidence in its driver, rather than one that asks occasionally awkward questions of them.