Open gallery Close by Matt Saunders 1 November 2019 Follow @TheDarkStormy1 Share
How we test cars
This week’s road test subject would be a tough sell to someone with little or no interest in hot hatchbacks, track driving or the pantheon of great performance cars we enthusiasts spend so long thinking about. Luckily for Renault, few people who fit that description are dedicated readers of this magazine.
The Mégane RS Trophy-R is, strictly speaking, a premium version of Renault’s existing hot Mégane that comes in one colour and with one transmission option; that has been studiously ‘de-contented’ of its back seats, foglights and four-wheel steering system; that hasn’t been endowed with an exclusive engine of astronomical outputs; and for which, in our test car’s case, Renault is charging more than £70,000. Golly gumdrops, indeed.
Carbonfibre wheels pictured are effectively a £12k option. If you see gold brake calipers and carbonfibre brakes as well, you’re looking at the ultra-rare £72k Nürburgring Record-spec car.Matt SaundersRoad test editor
To be fair to Renault, just one Nürburgring Record-specification example of the car has changed hands in the UK for that price (the only other being the press demonstrator you see here), with the balance of the 32 examples of this mega-Mégane available from a slightly less scandalous £51,140. Even so, for either price you can believe Renault Sport meant it when it claimed to have gone to every length of which it could conceive to add track pace and purpose to the Mégane RS’s armoury.
It has done that along three particular lines of focus: by taking weight out of the car, by greatly altering and improving its aerodynamic design, and by radically transforming its axles and surrounding suspension design. We’ll get into all three dimensions in detail shortly.
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For now, though, the prospect of carbonfibre wheels and carbon-ceramic brakes, a full-sized carbon diffuser and 10-way adjustable Ohlins coilovers on a not-so-humble hot hatchback ought to be enough to hold the attention.
But could they ever be enough to make spending what is close to Porsche Cayman GT4 money on a French hatchback with torsion beam rear suspension seem like a defensible decision? Read on to find out how you might rehearse the argument.
Verdict Model tested: Rating:
Renault Megane RS Trophy-R
GoodPredictable, highly compelling handling on both road and trackMasses of front-end grip and steering feelBadEngine not quite worthy of the elevated price tagImperfect ergonomic layout and driving position