Packing a mighty punch, editor of wheelworldreviews DAVID HOOPER says this hot-shot from Renault is a great all-rounder.
I DO love a great hot hatch – and this latest machine from the Renaultsport stable certainly fits that billing.
Based on the latest three-door Megane Coupe, it’s one great looking car, bedecked with spoilers, side skirts and smart black alloy wheels through which you can clearly see its enormous 340mm disc brakes and red-finished Brembo callipers which leave admirers in no doubt of this car’s potential.
A glimpse at the interior only serves to reinforce the anticipation, with moulded bucket seats with Renaultsport badging, complemented with contrasting yellow seat belts which match the car’s rev counter, all adding to the sporting image.
As with the Clio version I tested a couple of months ago, there are two versions of this car, the standard Sport chassis, or the Cup chassis on the car I’ve been testing, which comes with a limited slip differential.
The on-paper performance of the two cars is almost identical, but buyers of the Cup version get a more track-focused car for those who enjoy putting their skills to the test on a race track. To help it cope with the extra demands track driving places on a car, the discs on the Cup version are grooved for improved stopping power.
You’ll need good brakes, too, believe me. The 250 in the car’s name refers to its power output – 250bhp and 251lb ft of torque from its two-litre turbo-charged engine, which is a huge amount of power to put through just two driving wheels, be they at the front or the rear of any car.
The Renaultsport engineers have done an excellent job with this car though. The power delivery is smooth and progressive, but becomes more fierce as the big turbo comes into play higher up the rev range, but it makes overtaking just about anything the easiest of tasks.
So potent is this car’s performance, I found myself easily despatching dawdling A road traffic in twos and threes in complete safety on a cross-country trip. A quick press of the throttle pedal releases an impressive mid-range punch, even in fourth gear, but drop to third, and this car reels in the horizon with breathtaking speed. The 0-62mph sprint is dismissed in a cursory 6.1 seconds, while the potential top speed is in excess of 150mph.
The car is equipped with a three-stage ESP (Electronic Stability Programme) allowing the performance to be enjoyed in safety on road and on track, something which is unique in this class of car.
Renaultsport have designed the outside of the car to not only look good, but to slice through the air. Its extended wheel arches and side sills cover 18” or 19” wheels, while if you look closely at the car’s lower regions, you’ll notice a Formula One-inspired aerodynamic package which includes a front blade, a rear air diffuser with a large exhaust sticking out of the middle of it, plus an additional rear spoiler perched at the top of the rear window.
The car is very engaging to drive and is very well sorted dynamically. Despite its supercar-worrying performance, it feels very safe and is surprisingly comfortable. Yes, the suspension is firm, but not to the extent that it will loosen your fillings on our poorly surfaced roads.
There are six gears to choose from, and the gearbox is slick to operate. If you forget to change up in the all the excitement this car creates, a chime will remind you, as a symbol on the dashboard illuminates just before you hit the rev limiter.
There is room for five people inside, and the boot is also a decent size, and if you think it will drink you out of house and home, then think again – during my test which included a fair bit of fast driving, I was unperturbed by its consumption. The only downside is that the relatively high C02 emissions at 195g/km, means the 250 Cup will make a bit of a dent in your wallet every year when you buy your tax disc, but for an enthusiast, this will be a small price to pay for lots of fun.
The Renaultsport boys and girls have done it again with this car – it looks fantastic, is practical, and tremendous fun to drive.
Long live the hot hatch, I say.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: Renault Megane Renaultsport 250 Cup.
MEGANE RENAULTSPORT RANGE: From 250 Cup 3dr (£23,160) to 250 with Cup Chassis and Recaro Pack (£26,060).
ENGINE: 1998cc, 250bhp four-cylinder engine, driving front wheels through 6-speed manual gearbox.
CO2 EMISSIONS: 195g/km.
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 156mph. 0-62mph in 6.1 secs.
ECONOMY: City: 24.6mpg. Country: 42.2mpg. Combined: 34mpg. Fuel tank: 60 litres.
INSURANCE: Group 17.
WARRANTY: 3 years/60,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.