What is it?
It’s probably the final incarnation of the Renault Megane 225. Now equipped with a fresh take on the ‘Cup’ chassis and a tweaked engine producing 227bhp, the R26 (let’s call it that, for brevity’s sake) also features a limited-slip differential.
Acceleration is improved slightly (0.1sec quicker to 62mph, at 6.2sec) and it’ll now hit 147mph. It replaces the old F1 Team special edition but costs the same, at £19,570.
What’s it like?
Awesome. The engine is as willing as ever, with bags of power and torque available from as low as 2000rpm. It revs through to well over 6000rpm, too.
But the revelation is that LSD. The Megane turns in as sharply as, say, the Golf GTI or Focus ST, but where those rivals would wash out with a little understeer under power delivery, the R26 stays planted on whatever line you want to take.
What’s even more impressive is that it achieves this without resulting in the sort of torque steer over bumpy surfaces that made the Ford Focus RS so controversial. You can keep a light touch on the wheel in the R26 on roads where you’d have had to hang on for dear life in the RS.
The result? It is supremely easy to go incredibly fast in the Megane, be it on motorway or B-road.
Should I buy one?
Quite probably. The R26 is faster point-to-point than any hot hatch we can think of, and the LSD doesn’t compromise on its liveability. You’d be crazy to buy a GTI, ST or VXR without trying one of these on a B-road first.