At just after seven on a May morning, Renaultsport’s test driver Laurent Hurgot set the Renault Mégane Trophy-R’s new Nürburgring lap record for front-drive production cars, at a shade under eight minutes.
It’s now a month later, I’ve been daft enough to position myself next to Hurgot in the passenger seat of the very same vehicle, and it feels to me like he’s having another crack at the lap time.
Momentum preservation is everything when you've only 271bhp to deploy, but are out to set a lap time that is all but the equal of a Group C sports car’s. Such a time is only made possible by the Trophy-R’s astonishing corner speeds; the deftness with which it rides kerbs is extraordinary.
And Hurgot is riding kerbs. And cutting corners. And chucking the car at bends with the sort of abandon we’d colloquially call a ‘send’ or a ‘bung’, to unsettle the rear on corner entry and make the rear of the car work, before getting back on the gas on each apex.
The Trophy-R might technically be a series production car, but with only two seats and having received a heck of a lot of chassis work, it’s far removed from your usual hot hatch. The front springs are a composite, lighter than steel, while this Mégane also gets trick adjustable-stiffness Ohlins dampers.