What's it like?
Still phenomenal. Much of the RB8 package is obviously a matter of taste, but, truthfully, Renault could garnish the Mégane in Care Bear livery and not put a noticeable dent in our affections. No one, with the possible exception of Ford's TeamRS, better remixes a hatchback for hotness.
Here, the steering, roll stiffness, brakes and grip – usefully embellished with Bridgestone's help – are all ripped straight from a track day fanatic's wish list. All combine to help the Mégane up onto its familiar pedestal, and do so without ever feeling hindered by the comparative suppleness or everyday manageability engineered into both the chassis and powertrain.
Forking out more for the RB8 is likely to mean you prize the Mégane's hardcore assets over the soft, but it is this supreme balance that makes a journey up the motorway almost as enjoyable as time spent on a circuit, and is the reason why the car continues to feel like a steal – even with Red Bull's premium attached to the list price.
It helps that the minor differentiations work. Stickers we can take or leave, but the mean shade of blue, subtle 'platinum' detailing and gloss-black 19-inch rims befit the Mégane's lean styling. It would also take an inner child significantly more mature than ours not to be at least a little bit amused by the tweaked onboard Monitor, which displays real-time acceleration, G-force, power, traction, and GPS timing data.
Should I buy one?
At face value, the RB8 isn't an immediate must-have. At £28,245, the car is over £2500 more than the Cup version that has just as much power and charm, and no wannabe decals plastered to its rump. However, delving into the detail shows the Red Bull Racing model holding most of the trim level trump cards.
To add the bigger wheels, better paint, fancy Monitor computations, TomTom sat nav and prettier upholstery would require some hefty ticking on a Cup car template – and you still wouldn't come away with the better tyres. You also wouldn't get the exclusivity (and the resale benefit) of knowing that there are just 29 other RB8s knocking around the UK.
Until a tricked-up run-out edition of the Mégane emerges from Dieppe, this is the version – and indeed the C segment hot hatch – to buy.
Renaultsport Mégane Red Bull Racing RB8
Price £28,245; 0-62mph 6.0sec; Top speed 158mph; Economy 37.7mpg; CO2 174g/km; Kerb weight 1379kg; Engine 4cyls, 1998cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 261bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 266lb ft at 3000rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual