Renault Megane Renaultsport hatchback
Price £25,935 - £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."
The Renaultsport Megane is the fastest version of Renault's mid-size hatchback and thoroughly deserves its hot hatchback title. It takes on the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI, SEAT Leon Cupra and Ford Focus ST.
Its predecessor was a stripped-out, race-ready hatch with sharp handling, but it was very uncomfortable to drive on the road due to its stiff sports suspension.
However, the latest model manages to equal the previous car's performance while being easier to live with day-to-day. That's exactly what a hot hatchback should do.
Unfortunately, due to the passage of time, the Renaultsport Megane (and the standard Megane, in fact) isn’t long for this world. Renault recently introduced two final versions to see the hot hatchback off before a new Megane arrives in 2016.
The Renaultsport Megane 275 Nav is designed to be more of a daily driver car, so it's fitted with luxuries like satellite navigation, climate control and keyless entry. That's not to say the 275 Nav is soft – it still features a sports-tuned chassis and loads of racy details.
The other version is the Renaultsport Megane 275 Cup-S. This version is all about going fast, so you not only get a powerful engine, but also option of adjustable dampers from high-performance brand Öhlins, a titanium exhaust from Akrapovič and grippy sports tyres from Michelin to further improve performance.
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 275bhp and can accelerate the Megane from 0-62mph in only six seconds. It's the same engine that powered the crazy, limited-run Trophy R model.
MPG, running costs & CO2
You'll pay handsomely for fuel and insurance
The Renaultsport Megane is more efficient than a blue-blooded sports car, but it’ll still cost a pretty penny to run, particularly if you use it every day.
Any turbocharged high-performance engine will use a lot of fuel and the Megane’s is no different. It can return up to a claimed 37.7mpg and has CO2 emissions of 174g/km, for annual road tax of £205.
If you go for the Cup-S model, you’ll find the Renaultsport Megane’s soft sports tyres will wear out quickly – even quicker if you drive it as intended on a regular basis. If you plan on taking it on track, you’ll definitely need to buy an extra set of brake pads, too.
At least Renault’s warranty is better than some other manufacturers’. Renault’s normal four-year/100,000-mile cover applies to the Renaultsport Megane, giving great peace of mind.
Engines, drive & performance
With 275bhp, the Renaultsport is a very fast road car
The Renaultsport Megane’s looks certainly translate into a thrilling driving experience. The engine is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol that produces 275bhp – the same one that powered the crazy Megane Trophy R, which was for a time the fastest front-wheel-drive car to lap the infamous Nürburgring racetrack in Germany.
The car also has terrific grip through corners and excellent agility, backed up 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 exhaust growls at idle, while popping and banging at speed for that true racing-car feel.
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 are lots of pleasing details on the dials, seatbelts and stitching, while parts of the leather trim are coloured yellow.
The racing suspension will be too stiff for most drivers just looking to get from A to B, but the Recaro sports seats offer excellent support during hard cornering.
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 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 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. If you can find a used one for sale, the Megane Trophy-R has no rear seats at all, so using it as a family car is out of the question.
Reliability & safety
Owner survey scores are improving, but crash safety rating isn’t great
The standard Megane hatchback finished in 94th place out of the top 200 cars on sale in our 2015 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. Owners rated reliability higher than most categories, so the Megane took 92nd in that area. Its performance rating was a rather mediocre 108th, but that isn’t something we’d accuse the Renaultsport version of lacking.
Renault as a brand has been a big improver in recent years. After coming 15th in the brand survey results in 2014, it climbed again to eighth in 2015. Owners were impressed with in-car technology and running costs.
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, downgrading 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 track days 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. The 275 Nav version is pretty well equipped, too.
Renaults generally have poor resale values on 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.
The rarity and relative demand for the Trophy and Trophy-R models means used values remain high. The latest 275 Cup-S and 275 Nav models shouldn’t be that much different when it comes to selling on.
Options include the high-performance tyres, adaptive dampers and a titanium exhaust system on the Cup-S model. A £1,250 leather pack is available for the 275 Nav model, as is a three-year subscription to TomTom’s LIVE sat-nav service.