When it comes to the stuff that makes hatches hot, Renault's Megane RS has always been fairly well endowed - but for 2102 the car's been given even more cojones and it's got a new Nurburgring lap record to prove it.
When the Megane coupé in its current guise was introduced as a flagship Renault Sport variant about two years ago, it was sold as one of two models. Either way it's known internationally as the RS250 in reference to the amount of horsepower being sent through its front wheels (184kW), but a “Sport” suffix meant higher profile 18” tyres and a slightly softer ride, more conventional sport bucket seats, and a neatly integrated TomTom navigation unit. Where the Sport was aimed more at everyday use, a “Cup” version with racier 19” rims, stiffer suspension, proper racing seats and an RS Monitor displaying performance data such as lap times and G-forces, saw it more focussed on weekend track day use.
Buy the Megane RS today, and you get the same two choices, but Renault's hardest core fans in South Africa now have the choice of a new “Trophy 265” edition that's just circulated the famous Nurburgring in Germany faster than any other front-wheel drive car in production. The lap time of 8mins 7.97secs, according to Renault, is also faster than other performance icons like BMW's recent 1M and Audi's TTRS.
Of course the 265 designation means there's more power now, and with a new total of 195kW, the lengthily-named Renault Megane Renault Sport Trophy 265 is one of gutsiest front-wheel driven hatches yet made. But, there's a catch.
Firstly, this newfound power, which comes by way of a revised intake manifold and upping turbo boost pressure to 2.5 bar (from 2.3), is not unique to the top-dog Trophy model. All new Megane RS’s - Sport, Cup and Trophy - are now equipped with identical 195kW horsepower 2-litre engines, and all three are slightly quicker than before. Renault claims 0-100km/h times of 6 seconds flat from 6.1 last year, and a new top speed of 254km/h from 250.
Secondly, upon start-up, all three 2012 variants are only capable of the usual 184kW/340Nm output. You'll need to completely deactivate the three-mode traction control system to unleash the extra 11kW and 20Nm, and in doing so you're opening yourself up to a rip-snorting, wheel-spinning, unassisted-by-sometimes-helpful-electronics, racing car. Who in their right mind wouldn't want their hot hatch with all of its power all of the time?
I foresee many a Megane RS whoopsie ...
Other than the power increase, the Megane Sport and Cup models are pretty much identical to last year's models, but the new Trophy gets some extras. Standard fare here includes stickier Bridgestone RE050A tyres (instead of the usual Continentals) wrapped around the Cup's 19” wheels specially finished in black. The front spoiler blade that's designed to look like an F1 car's front wing gets red pinstriping, there's a specific rear lip spoiler, seatbelts are in radical-looking yellow and there's a set of Trophy decals on the doors.
But possibly the most important standard feature is exclusivity, because with only 500 units being made worldwide, and only 30 allocated to South Africa, you're unlikely to encounter another Trophy at your local corner store. Expect local availability in July.
Megane RS Sport R359 900
Megane RS Cup R399 900
Megane RS Trophy R409 900
Author Jesse Adams was given a Megane RS Trophy 265 to compete in last week's Simola Hillclimb in Knysna. He finished third in class A1 for 2-litre turbo cars with road tyres. - Star Motoring