Renault’s new Megane RS 265 Trophy recently smashed the Nurburgring lap record for front-wheel drive cars. But does that translate into more on-road fun? Read on for our first drive of the new Renaultsport Megane 265 Trophy to find out...
I didn’t even know there was a lap record for FWD cars. It’s a bit like hearing that Blackburn reserves beat Man U’s B-team 1-0 in a friendly. So what time did it set?
The 265 rounded the Nordschleife circuit in 8min 8sec, beating the previous record – held by the stripped ou,t old-shape Megane R26R – by 9sec. To put that in context, a Porsche Cayman takes around 8min 04sec to complete a lap, while a 911 GT3 4.0 can do it in 7min 27sec.
I’m impressed. So what’s the secret ingredient?
Well unlike previous Trophy-badged Renaults, the 265 doesn’t have any trick suspension components over and above the standard Cup-chassis’d, LSD-equipped car on which it’s based. Except for a very sticky set of Bridgestone Potenzas, that is. They don’t look that trick, not like the old R26R’s optional Toyo track day shoes or a Michelin Pilot Cup Sport tyre. And they don’t need bone-dry roads to work properly. These things are incredible whatever the road surface, working together with the Cup’s limited slip differential and subtle ESP system to deliver phenomenal cornering performance. That’s cornering as in grip through the corner and traction on the way out. The regular Cup is superb, but the 265 is definitely better.
No chassis mods? What about the engine?
That’s where the 265 bit comes in. That’s the power in metric horsepower, which equates to 261bhp, up from 247bhp in the standard car thanks to a revised intake system and turbo boost increase from 2.3bar to 2.5bar. A modest 14bhp gain is way short of the 300bhp some mags were speculating the Trophy would have. The 0-62mph sprint falls just 0.1sec to 6sec dead, and the top speed creeps up a measly 2mph to 158mph. But you can feel the difference. It sounds angrier and pulls harder than the standard car, the wheel jiggling in your hands under hard acceleration in the lower gears but never enough to becoming full-blown, lane changing torque steer like it does in the Focus RS.
Well it still feels Renault-cheap inside, the rear visibility is poor, the ride is terrible and the brake and throttle pedals are slightly too far apart for heel and toeing if you’re into that stuff – which you might want to be because there’s no dual-clutch gearbox option. That’s a small list though and easy to forgive when a car is this much fun. The important point is this: if you want the most exciting hot hatch in the business, this is it.
So what’s it going to cost me?
The price is £27,820, which is £3800 more than the Cup it’s based on, but really only £450 more by the time you’ve factored in cost of equipping a Cup with the 265’s standard Recaro buckets (£1025), LED lights (£255), 19in wheels (£510), useless Renaultsport Monitor (£310) and metallic paint (£1250 for the standard-in-the-UK Liquid Yellow). On top of that there's the extra power, different tyres, and free entry to all of Renaultsport's trackday, so it ain't bad value. For reference, a posher, softer Renaultsport Megane 250 costs £25,020 or £27,220 with the Cup suspension, LSD and Recaros.
If you do want a 265 though, you better get in there quick. Just 500 will be made and only 50 of those are coming to the UK.
The 265 is brilliant to drive, but £1200 for some different rubber and an ECU remap isn’t spectacular value. Part of Renault’s problem is that the standard Cup-chassis Megane is simply so damn good. However, if you were thinking of chucking a few options on a standard Cup or 250 anyway, you really should get your name down for a Trophy. Alternatively, check out the classifieds for a used R26R: £10k less and just as much fun.
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