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Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review

Published:03 April 2014

Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
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  • 5 out of 5

This is the facelifted version of the Megane Renaultsport 265. It is, without doubt, the best hot hatch currently on sale to punt around a racetrack. It’s the third evolution of this generation, which has gone from the 250 version to the 265 (for PS, or 261bhp) in 2012, and now this – a crook corporate nose that ensures you know it’s a Renault from space.

So how extensive is the facelift?

It’s quite bold up front: there’s the massive Renault diamond badge up front, proud and centre, that gives the Megane an obvious visual link to the rest of the French maker’s range: park it next to a Clio or the hot-selling Captur, and there’s no uncertainty that they’ve fallen from the same tree. The front and rear bumpers are new, as is the new ‘sculpted’ bonnet. There’s not a single mechanical change, says Renault, but the RS is not exactly crying out for any…

Spec changes?

There are two key changes that come with this facelift: the RS now comes in a single trim level, with the £1350 Cup pack fitted to our test car expected to be taken up by two-thirds of buyers. The other key change is inside: the Renault R-Link infotainment.

R-Link is brilliant, isn’t it?

When it’s the touchscreen version, it’s a good, responsive system with clear graphics and is relatively intuitive. Yet for the Megane, it comes with the horrendous console-mounted joystick. There’s no joy here, though: the hard-core weighting of the steering, clutch and gear shift, as well as the RS’s stiff ride makes using the flimsy lever a shock, as it’s completely at odds with the rest of the car’s character.

Even in lower-spec Meganes, with softer weightings, the R-Link lever seems about to snap off whenever it’s used. It feels like a stick in a bowl of jelly: there’s a vagueness that means selecting what you want on the screen is like fishing, so gamblers will love it. And we thought the Lexus mouse-like system took a bit of getting used to…

What’s it like to drive?

This is what the RS is all about: sheer driving brilliance. Forget the styling and other foibles: this has to be one of the best hot hatches for the track. Those supportive and tight fitting seats hold you in firmly, and the driving position feels natural and with enough adjustment to get it just right.

The steering wheel may look a bit cheap, bit its leather coating and firmness match the feel of the exquisitely placed aluminium pedals (perfect to heel and toe with) and the stiff yet precise shift action of the six-speed gearbox. This is set on such a taut, responsive chassis playing host to that grunty turbo four that howls like it’s relentlessly sucking up the road as you push it further than a hatch should go…

Verdict

This is one of the best hot hatches if you’re after a swift, track-oriented racer. It’s not as livable as the ubiquitous VW Golf GTI, for instance, nor as good value, but it will destroy one around a track. The cabin still feels cheap, and it’s falling further behind fresher rivals here. That means that the Renault is simply too performance focused for some: this is not a supermarket trolley with an extra kick, but a serious performance car. We love it, especially when we’re at the wheel – cause you can’t see that nose…

Specs

Price when new: £26,925
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1998cc 16v in-line four-cyl, turbocharged, 261bhp @ 5500rpm, 266lb ft @ 3000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 6.0sec 0-62mph, 158mph, 37.7mpg, 174g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1394kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4312/1808/1423

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  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
  • Renault Megane Renaultsport 265 Cup (2014) review
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