"The Renaultsport Megane 265 strikes a great balance between very focused driving dynamics and day-to-day comfort."
The Renaultsport Megane 265 is Renault's answer to the Ford Focus RS, Volkswagen Golf GTI and SEAT Leon Cupra R hot hatches. The car that preceded it, the Megane R26.R, was a stripped-out hot hatchback with sharp handling which was extremely uncomfortable to drive on the road. However, the latest version manages to equal that car's performance, but be comfortable to use on a daily basis. The standard 265 model is built with everyday usability in mind, while the cheaper Cup model is more track-focused version, gaining parts to improve cornering ability in exchange for several luxury items. Confusingly, you can add the Cup parts to the standard car as an option.
From the outside, the hottest Megane looks fantastic. Based on the swoopy Megane Coupe, the addition of flared wheelarches, racy side skirts and front spoilers transform the looks into a much more intimidating looking car, especially if you go for bright colour scheme. The large alloy wheels and oversize central exhaust pipe also hint at the performance on offer. The engine is a 2.0-litre turbo, which produces 265bhp and can catapult the Megane from 0-62mph in 6.0 seconds. The Megane's impressive mid corner grip, agility and powerful brakes mean that this car is easily one of the fastest point to point cars money can buy.
It's not as extreme as it's stripped-out predecessor, and the interior feels well screwed together and features some welcome excitement over the standard Megane's cabin. Bucket seats hold you tightly in place, and there's lots of smart detailing in the form of dials, seatbelts, stitching and parts of the leather trim coloured in yellow. There are three different models to choose from, each offering different levels of comfort or performance. We would recommend the standard Renaultsport model for most drivers as the Cup version is quite uncomfortable on bumpy roads.
While Renault's cars have had their problems in the past, particularly with electrical systems, our long-term tests with the Renaultsport Megane reveal no such issues. The interior is well made and doesn't feel like it's going to fall apart at the slightest provocation. Drivers also get the same five star Euro NCAP accident protection offered in the standard Megane. However, drivers planning to use the car on track days be warned. If it's driven hard, the Megane will quickly eat up consumable parts like tyres, brake pads and clutches.
Yes, it's based on a family car, but if you're intending to make the Megane your only form of transport, beware. It's only available as a coupe, so access to the rear seats is limited. There's a decent boot, but the high load lip makes lifting heavy items in and out tricky. Those racing seats up front eat into the space offered to rear seat passengers - who will also have to endure this car's stiff suspension.
Value for money
The Renaultsport Megane is held in high esteem by driving enthusaists, and rightly so. To be frank, the Megane's price is far from low, but it is competitively priced when you consider the performance on offer, and the blend of exclusivity and head-turning looks. It's relatively well equipped, too, although stripped-out Cup versions don't get air conditioning or satellite navigation as standard.
Plan on driving the Renaultsport Megane flat out everywhere you go? Then you'll soon be on first name terms with your local petrol station attendant. The turbocharged engine has the potential to drink fuel. And that's not all. The Megane's soft tyres wear quickly, and if you plan on taking the car on track more than once or twice, you will need to buy an extra set of brake pads. At least you'll have something exciting to remember when you pay the bill.