► We test new halfway house warm hatch
► GT 220 uses detuned RS engine
► 217bhp and £24k price tag: a winning combo?
Here’s the moment that crystallised my respect for the full-fat Renaultsport Megane. It was CAR’s Performance Car of the Year 2010 and I was chasing a Merc SLS AMG in a bright yellow Megane 250 Cup along the twisting Col de Castillon.
The raspy engine provided shove aplenty, the diff locked the front tyres into the Provençal hilltops and the chassis took anything that I threw at it. It says more about Renaultsport than Pollardsport that the SLS couldn’t shake me off.
So a lightly detuned version could be something special. One of the great modern-day hot hatchbacks, wound back to a more acceptable degree of spend and spew, to look after your wallet, insurance grouping and the environment a little better.
Changes wrought to the Megane Renaultsport GT 220
They take the 2.0-litre four-pot from the current Megane RS and detune it to 217bhp and 251lb ft. Styling is equally watered down, although you do get a semi-sporting front spoiler, 18in alloys, grippy seats and niceties such as chromed door mirror caps. On paper, that sounds like it’s nudging into Golf GTI territory – for £6k less.
Perhaps predictably, the GT 220 isn’t quite as thrilling as the full-fat RS Meganes to drive. It’s punchy enough and the four-pot hasn’t lost its appetite for revs, as it charges from 0-62mph in 7.6sec and brushes 150mph. And the pedals are set up perfectly to blip the throttle on downchanges; it’s that kinda analogue hot hatch.
What's not so good...
The problem comes with the bits that aren’t fitted. The lack of a limited-slip diff means the front wheels spin wildly, the chassis loses the poise offered by PerfoHub steering geometry and Ohlins dampers, while the Brembo-less brakes are less confidence-inspiring.
The GT 220 package is available as a three-door 'coupe' bodystyle (as tested), or a more practical five-door Megane and the touring estate. Just remember it's a run-out special; Renault plans to show the all-new Megane at the 2015 Frankfurt motor show.
It’s a good halfway house, the 220, but we’d recommend you save up for the full-fat Renaultsport 265 or 275; we've checked in the classifieds and you’ll get a nearly new one for less than the cost of a GT 220. Why compromise?