To say that the Alpine 110 has been one of the most eagerly anticipated new cars of recent times would be an understatement. It’s not just the return of a legendary French brand after more than 20 years, but it’s proof positive that there’s plenty of mileage left in the concept of lightweight, mid-engined sports …
Renault are set to make their all-conquering Mégane Renaultsport even more irresistible by introducing a new entry-level model, slashing the price to under £24k.
The Renaultsport 275 Cup-S distills the Mégane’s essence into its purest form, ditching creature comforts in favour of the Cup chassis (usually a £1,350 option) and the same 275hp turbocharged petrol engine as the limited-edition 275 Trophy-R, and it’s all yours for just £23,935.
Personally I wouldn’t be satisfied with that. Having driven a Trophy-spec Mégane I’d have to add the optional Ohlins dampers. They may be expensive at £2,000 but they transform the ride, improving both body control and the Mégane’s ability to handle bumps and compressions. You’ve then got the best handling chassis in its class for less than £26k, less than the price of a 227bhp Golf GTI.
The headline figures can be a bit misleading though. In ‘normal’ mode the Megane’s turbocharged 4-cylinder engine develops buy nexium 20 250hp at 5,500rpm. It’s only when you start playing around with the Renaultsport Dynamic Management system that you can unleash the full-fat 275hp. With peak power comes 360Nm of torque, covering the mid-range from 3,000 to 5,000rpm.
If the thought of a modern car without so much as air-conditioning puts you off then take a look at the other end of the Mégane spectrum. The new 275 Nav replaces the 265 Nav and represents the softer side of the Mégane’s character. For £25,935 you get the same engine and straight-line performance but sacrifice the Cup Chassis (still available as an option) for the slightly softer Sport setup and lots more toys in the cabin. It adds dual-zone climate, auto lights and wipers, R-Link V2 multimedia system with navigation, better sound system, keyless entry and tinted rear windows.
Both the 275 Nav and Cup-S are available to order now with deliveries starting in November.
Performance & Economy 2015 Mégane Renaultsport 275 Cup-S 2015 Mégane Renaultsport 275 Nav Engine 1,998cc turbocharged 4-cylinder, petrol 1,998cc turbocharged 4-cylinder, petrol Transmission 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive Power (PS / bhp) 279 / 275 at 5,500rpm 279 / 275 at 5,500rpm Torque (Nm / lb.ft) 360 / 265 at 3,000-5,000rpm 279 / 275 @ 5,500rpm 0 – 62 mph (seconds) 6.0 6.0 Top Speed (mph) 158 158 CO2 Emissions (g/km) 174 174 VED Band H H Combined Economy (mpg) 37.7 37.7 Kerb Weight (kg) 1,376 1,376 Insurance Group 40E 40E Price (OTR) £23,935 £25,935
You could be forgiven for thinking that the current Renault Mégane was getting a little long in the tooth. Its current guise has been on sale since 2009 and in that time we’ve seen all-new sporting models from Ford, SEAT, Volkswagen and Audi. So to step into the Renaultsport Mégane 275 Trophy and still be amazed at how well it drives is testament to the astonishing abilities of Dieppe’s finest engineers.
Close inspection of this Mégane’s tyres reveals that they are the optional semi-slick Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s. Pick these and you’re treated to a set of rubber that looks barely road-legal but offers amazing grip. The only problem, apart from the £1,000 price tag, is you need to work hard to generate enough heat to extract their full potential. They may be great on dry, smooth tarmac but on a cold, wet Spring morning they could be terrifying – it’s an option aimed squarely at the track rather than the UK’s inclement weather and greasy roads.
Hidden behind the 19-inch Turini wheels and Brembo braking system lies a set of £2,000 Ohlins dampers that are lifted from the Mégane N4 rally car. That’s a lot to spend on a damper upgrade but they tip the usual road-car compromise back from cost firmly in favour of ability.
Some special cars feel right within just a few hundred yards and the Mégane Trophy is one of them. The steering is perfectly weighted and talks back to you, unlike in most modern hatchbacks. It’s incredibly direct too and it allows you to point the Mégane exactly where you want it to go.
The grip from those Cup 2 tyres is impressive. While Millbrook’s ever-vigilant marshals put paid to any serious efforts to test cornering Gs, the Michelin’s ability to cope with buy nexium online 275bhp and 360Nm were impressive. As well as the abundant grip there’s a limited-slip differential shuffling torque between the front wheels, and the result is ballistic acceleration from far earlier in the corner than would otherwise seem sensible.
The Ohlins dampers are superb. Body movement is tightly controlled but there’s a supple side to the Mégane’s ride that’s absent in the standard 275, which usually comes across as ridiculously brittle on anything but the smoothest tarmac. That’s the benefit of upgrading to the more expensive dampers.
The last Renaultsport product to feature dampers like this was the Clio 182 Trophy. It used a set of Sachs Race Engineering items that cost 10 times as much as a standard Clio’s dampers but they transformed the Trophy’s handling. It’s now regarded as a collector’s item. Is it worth upgrading your Mégane? Absolutely.
The rest of the car remains as you’d expect. A bit of carbon effect trim, red highlights, some alcantara trim and firm but well-bolstered Recaro seats. The fussy media system remains, sacrificing touch controls for fiddly buttons down near the handbrake. The Start/Stop button also hints at cost cutting, sitting low and far to the left, a consequence of positioning it for left-hand drivers and not retooling the dash layout for right-handers.
Not that it matters. Renaultsport models have always been about the driving experience and that’s where the Mégane still excels. If you can come to terms with the £32k price of a Trophy-spec Mégane there’s little else that can beat its fluid responses and beguiling chassis. It might be outgunned by several rivals and it might not be cheap either, but the joy of driving is still at the heart of the Mégane’s appeal.
Performance & Economy 2015 Mégane Renaultsport 275 Trophy Engine 1,998cc turbocharged 4-cylinder, petrol Transmission 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive Power (PS / bhp) 279 / 275 Torque (Nm / lb.ft) 360 / 265 0 – 60 mph (seconds) 6.0 Top Speed (mph) 158 CO2 Emissions (g/km) 174 VED Band H Combined Economy (mpg) 37 Kerb Weight (kg) 1,376 Price (OTR) £28,930
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