What is it?
There are some pure driver’s cars that manufacturers just always get right: I’m particularly thinking GT Porsches, mid-engined Ferrari specials and extreme Renault Méganes.
This is the latest of the Renaults, which is these days called the Renault Mégane RS Trophy-R.
And I’m happy to report the same applies. Sigh. Time for another rejig of the ‘top 10 best front-wheel-drive cars of all time’ list.
This is a great car. As usual, Renault has chased a particular German lap time and, as usual, found it (in 7min 40.1sec), so it’s the fastest front-wheel-drive production car on the Nürburgring. But it’s the way the Trophy-R delivers its speed rather than the speed itself that makes it so compelling.
There is less weight, to the tune of 130kg, by various means, from thinning the rear door glass (-1kg), removing rear seats (-25kg) and changing the front seats (-14kg), to fitting a carbonfibre bonnet (-8kg), titanium exhaust (-7kg) a smaller touchscreen (-250g) and omitting the rear wiper (-3kg).
But the biggest ‘leave’, which makes the biggest difference both to the car’s power-to-weight ratio and, I suspect, to the way the car handles, is the absence of the active rear-steer system you’ll find on lesser RS Méganes and which has troubled the confidence of some testers, me included.
Combined with a lighter rear torsion beam it saves almost 40kg, so the kerb weight is 1306kg. No rear-steer sets up the Trophy-R with less high-speed stability than the regular RS Mégane, but way more chuckability and, crucially, consistency of response.
The rest of the intoxication is provided by the weight reduction, adoption of adjustable Ohlins dual-flow valve dampers and lightweight springs, increased front camber, virtually no aerodynamic lift via a bigger diffuser and tiny front splitter, and a ride height that the customer can lower by up 16mm front and rear.