Renault Megane Renaultsport hatchback
Price £25,930 - £36,430
- Striking looks
- Sharp handling
- Everyday useability
- Interior finish doesn't feel special enough
- Not quite as practical as competitors
- Road noise from larger wheels
At a glance
"The Renaultsport Megane 265 strikes a great balance between very focused driving dynamics and day-to-day comfort."
Its predecessor was a stripped-out hatchback that sported sharp handling, but was extremely uncomfortable to drive on the road due to its super-stiff suspension.
However, the latest model manages to equal the previous car's performance while also being a lot more comfortable to drive on a daily basis – which is exactly what a hot hatchback should do. The standard 265 model is built with that in mind, while the cheaper Cup model is more track-focused, so has improved cornering ability yet fewer luxurious touches. Confusingly, you can add the Cup parts to the standard car as an option if you want.
The range also includes the Renaultsport Megane Trophy 275, which has a lightweight exhaust from aftermarket tuning company Akrapovic, an extra 10bhp and Renault's Cup Pack fitted as standard. The latter includes stiffer suspension and a limited-slip differential to aid hard acceleration out of corners. Visual changes include a deeper front bumper with Trophy badging, stickers on the car's wings and uniquely numbered sills.
Finally, there's the ultimate version of this mode, the Megane Trophy 275-R, which gets the same 271bhp 2.0-litre engine as the Trophy 275, but is 100kg lighter for even sharper performance.
MPG, running costs & CO2
You'll pay handsomely for fuel and insurance
It doesn't have the sky-high fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of a full-blooded sports car, but the Renaultsport Megane will still work out pretty costly to run if you use it for everyday driving.
Any turbocharged performance engine is going to use a lot of fuel, and this one's no exception, with fuel economy of 34mpg and CO2 emissions of 190g/km for annual road tax of £265.
The lighter Renaultsport Megane Trophy 275 is actually more economical: it can return 37.7mpg, while CO2 emissions of 174g/km mean road tax drops to £205 a year. Figures are the same for the Trophy-R.
The Megane has soft tyres that tend to wear out quickly, so you'll have to replace them quite frequently if you drive it at all aggressively. And if you plan on taking the car on track more than once or twice a year, you'll definitely need to buy an extra set of brake pads as well.
Engines, drive & performance
With 265bhp, the Renaultsport is a very fast road car
The Renaultsport Megane certainly looks the part. Based on the swoopy Megane Coupe, the RS adds flared wheelarches, sporty side skirts and front spoilers that transform it into a much more intimidating-looking car – especially if you go for one of the bright colours on offer.
Larger alloy wheels and an oversized central exhaust pipe hint at the performance on offer under the bonnet, too. The engine is a turbocharged 2.0-litre that produces 265bhp and can accelerate the Megane from 0-62mph in only six seconds.
The car also has terrific grip through corners and excellent agility, all offset by powerful brakes to keep things under control. It all adds up to what is easily one of the fastest point-to-point cars money can buy. To unlock its true potential, take it to a nice winding B-road and enjoy.
The Trophy doesn’t feel much quicker than the regular car – it doesn’t need to – but it sounds faster thanks to an exhaust that growls at idle, while popping and banging at speed.
Interior & comfort
Sporty handling means very firm suspension
While the previous Renaultsport Megane was stripped out to an extreme degree, the current model’s interior is nicely screwed together and adds some welcome excitement to the standard Megane finish. Sporty bucket seats hold you tightly in place, plus there's lots of pleasing details on the dials, seatbelts and stitching, while parts of the leather trim are coloured yellow.
The Trophy model's suspension also feels too stiff, but its Recaro sports seats offer excellent support for hard cornering and are some of the best seats currently available in any car. In the Trophy-R, 21kg of sound deadening has been removed, so you need to be prepared for a bit of a racket when you accelerate hard.
Practicality & boot space
Only available as a coupe, so access to the rear seats is limited
One of the main reasons for buying a hot hatchback is to get sports-car performance in a practical hatchback body. However, if you intend to use the Renaultsport Megane as your only form of transport, it simply isn't as practical as the standard version.
For starters, it’s only available as a coupe, so getting in and out of the back seats is tricky. You do get a decent-sized boot that holds 377 litres with the rear seats in place. It expands to a good-sized 1,129 litres with the back seats folded down flat, but a high load lip does makes lifting heavy items in and out a little bit trickier than it should be.
The front racing seats eat into rear passenger space, making things worse for occupants already enduring the car's stiff suspension. The Trophy-R has no rear seats at all, making use as a family car out of the question.
Reliability & safety
Renault cars don't have the best reputation for reliability
The Megane dropped a massive 72 places in our Driver Power 2014 owner satisfaction survey, with the car being marked down for build quality, fuel economy and performance. The latter isn't something we'd ever accuse the Renaultsport Megane of lacking, though.
The Megane hatchback was crash-tested by Euro NCAP and secured the maximum five-star rating. But since then, the testing body has heavily criticised the regular Megane's rear seatbelt warning system, downgraded its rating to just three stars. Testers noted that with improvements to this system, the score would increase to four stars.
The Megane Renaultsport is fitted with the same safety equipment as the standard Megane, but the electronic stability control has been tweaked to take the performance model’s increased speed and sharper handling into account. However, drivers planning to use the Renaultsport on trackdays should tread carefully, because if you drive it hard, the Megane will quickly gobble up consumable parts like tyres, brake pads and clutches, greatly increasing your running costs.
Price, value for money & options
It's not what we'd call cheap, but given the performance on offer, the Megane is decent value for money
Driving enthusiasts rightly hold the Renaultsport Megane in high esteem – which is good, because it's not cheap to buy. Yet it's competitively priced when you consider the performance on offer. Factor in its combination of head-turning looks and rarity, and it's quite a compelling package. It's also relatively well equipped, although stripped-out Cup versions don't have air-con or sat nav.
Renaults generally have poor resale values in the used car market, but the Renaultsport's reputation and desirability means it's a rare exception to this rule. Well looked-after, low-mileage examples are always in demand.
As just 100 Trophy models were sold in the UK, this model should hold its value particularly well, but its £1,500 premium over the normal car is hard to justify – especially when you factor in the very hard ride. The extra money does buy you a three-year subscription for the TomTom sat nav, though.
The stripped-out Trophy-R does without rear seats, air-conditioning, a rear wiper and sound deadening, but as mentioned above, it's 100kg lighter and quicker than the standard Trophy. With just 30 examples sold in the UK, it's also as exclusive as Renault Meganes get.