It has very big reserves of outright lateral grip and particularly high mid-corner stability too, which allows you to carry ever-greater apex speeds. Handling adjustability seems to have been sacrificed slightly in pursuit of that high-speed plantedness, though, and so if you’re looking for instant, accessible fun from your hot hatchback or particular playfulness at the limit, the Trophy-R stands the chance of leaving you just a little bit frustrated at times.
At other times, however, this is the kind of car to render you breathless and not a little astonished that a front-driven hatchback can be driven so hard – and it’ll keep coming back lap after lap.
The Trophy-R’s Bridgestone tyres plainly aren’t as liquorish-soft or track-intended as others on the performance market. They work reasonably well on the road; their grip level doesn’t seem as dependent on outright temperature as that of, say, a Pirelli Trofeo R; and they even work quite well in the wet (deep standing water notwithstanding).
All up, they seem a very intelligent compromise for a hot hatchback – and, on dry Tarmac, they allow the Trophy-R a grip level that is at once high and long-lasting, rather than one that seems to begin deteriorating after five hard circuits.
The car is hugely stable and precise on corner entry and very predictable on exit, making it easy to drive fast. It works its Torsen front slippy diff harder under acceleration than other Mégane RSs have hitherto, getting more benefit from it and enjoying lots of traction. Brake pedal feel is excellent, and stopping power very resistant to fade.
COMFORT AND ISOLATION
While stripping the Trophy-R’s interior of any meaningful sound-deadening does turn the cabin into something of an echo chamber, the effect isn’t quite as pronounced as you might expect. Of course, bigger impacts still feel somewhat amplified so that your ears are, at times, almost as prone to assault as the base of your spine, but the Renault isn’t necessarily worse than its competition in this respect. At a sustained 30mph, our sound gear measured cabin volume at 66dB – the same reading we extracted from a Civic Type R in 2017. In fact, it was only at 70mph where the Trophy-R was louder and then only marginally, with our microphone showing 73dB versus the Honda’s 72dB.
As for driving position, the Renault is fine without being outstanding, but still significantly behind the supremely cohesive Civic. You have to sit slightly bent-legged at the pedals to be within comfortable reaching distance of the gearlever, while the pedals feel a touch too highly set for comfort and aren’t ideally spaced laterally either. Heel-and-toe shifts are doable, but they come far more naturally in the Honda. And while our testers agreed the Sabelt bucket seats offer good lateral support, some felt the angle of the fixed backrest was a bit too recumbent to be ideal.