The Renault Megane R.S. 275 Trophy.
The Renault Megane R.S. 275 Trophy.

Renault Megane R.S 275 Trophy road test review

THE Nurburgring, Nordschleife, is a big deal. The most fearsome race track on Earth, its 20.6km route through Germany's Eifel mountains is seen as the benchmark test for car manufacturers.

Lap quickly here and the PR opportunities are endless. Renault is rightly banging the drum about its Megane R.S. 275 Trophy-R lapping in just 7:54 seconds - a world record for a front-wheel drive production car.

Fifty of these hardcore racers for the road are allocated for Australia in the coming months, but right now the more user-friendly, more affordable but no-less brilliant Megane R.S 275 Trophy is available.

Our market will receive 100 of them, and VW Golf R aside, there is nothing to touch this outstanding hot hatch for the money ($52,990 before on-roads).

Powerful 201kW turbocharged engine, chassis dynamics that can make a hero of any driver and a race-inspired cabin all serve to create a devastatingly strong package.

Comfort

We'll get this out of the way, as it's hardly the priority for buyers of a race car for the road. The Megane R.S. 275 Trophy features leather and Alcantara Recaro buckets seats, complete with red stitching and red seat belts.

The Recaros are superbly grippy and do a decent job of clasping the occupants on the tightest of turns, and even after hours of driving they remained comfortable enough.

Featuring an Alcantara steering wheel and ideally shaped and weighted gear knob and the cabin brings a true sense of race car occasion.

Rear space isn't generous. At six-foot, my head was on the ceiling in the claustrophobic rear.

The dash equipment is neat, and the 18cm touch-screen easy to navigate, albeit a bit too far out of reach for the driver to comfortably operate.

On the road

Any minor negatives found inside are swiftly brushed aside when the new Trophy hits the road. The harder you push the more rewarding it becomes, as this hot hatch is a no-compromise offering that loves playing at the limit.

On Tasmania's Targa roads chosen for its Australian launch, the 275 was in its element: sweeping curves, tight hairpins and a smooth road surface.

The Trophy's as standard limited slip differential and Cup chassis tuned for optimal track or fast road use are revelations.

The ride is firm - fine for good roads but a bit grating on the poor stuff - but you stop caring at the first sniff of a turn. The nose aggressively attacks each corner - the turn-in incredible.

Handling and grip seem to defy physics, the Trophy reaching silly speeds in corners before showing any signs of loosening up or the tyres tweeting.

Backed up by the ready power of a two-litre turbocharged four, which is an ideal ally for the talented chassis, few cars - whatever their marque or price - could

match the Trophy on the tight and twisty stuff. It hits 100kmh in six-seconds but feels faster with low-down torque in abundance, and the six-speed manual box with quite short gearing is ideal for exploiting it.

 

The Renault Sport Megane RS 275 Trophy.
The Renault Sport Megane RS 275 Trophy.

What do you get?

 

Highlighting the Trophy's racing DNA, on-board telemetry is offered for those who like to monitor their playtime.

Through the 18cm monitor you can evaluate data on power, torque, temperatures, throttle opening, brake pressure, turbo pressure and steering angle.

You can also monitor acceleration times, lap times and G-forces, then analyse the lot by transferring the data to a USB key. With GPS positions logged as well, drivers can check their progress and even compare with other drivers: ideal for those entering motorsport events or track days.

To separate the 275 Trophy from the "lesser" Megane R.S. 265 it features competition- style 19-inch Speedline Turini wheels and an Akrapovic titanium exhaust system which creates a lush aggressive note, and pops nicely when lifting.

The lucky 100 owners also receive the limited edition's F1-style front splitter with Trophy lettering, grey body graphics, and numbered door sill guards.

Those fearing the 275 is not suitable as an everyday proposition will be buoyed by air conditioning, a raft of safety features and entertainment technology the match of rivals in the range.

Practicality

As a hatchback, the Trophy is arguably still designed as a family car, but the Renault isn't as family-friendly as other hot hatches, such as a Golf GTI. That said the boot is ample, and the rear seats good enough for younger kids - albeit with a clamber in behind the hard-backed front seats.

Running costs

Renault Sport has eked out an extra 10bhp (7.5kW) from the 265's engine for the new Trophy, but has kept consumption the same at 7.5 litres for every 100km.

Insurance isn't going to be cheap - companies know the kind of drivers attracted to these cars - but with capped-price servicing for the first three years, owners will only need to fork out $897 for the period - significantly less than the $1500+ VW asks of Golf R owners for three years.

Funky factor

You're not going to miss the 275 Trophy. The vibrant yellow paint (white is also available) and Trophy graphics over black 19-inch wheels are striking and leave you in no doubt of the Renault's intentions.

With a mere 100 coming to Australia, those desiring exclusivity won't be disappointed.

The lowdown

The Megane R.S. 275 Trophy is just a small notch down from the fastest-ever front-wheel drive production car to lap the Nurburgring (the 275 Trophy-R), but is more relevant as an everyday proposition and cheaper too.

Incredible chassis and engine combination make for a superb hot hatch that rewards those who still love the thrill of driving.

The lowdown

The Megane R.S. 275 Trophy is just a small notch down from the fastest ever front-wheel drive production car to lap the Nurburgring (the 275 Trophy-R), but is more relevant as an everyday proposition and cheaper too.

Incredible chassis and engine combination make for a superb hot hatch that rewards those who still love the thrill of driving.

A suitable foil for the excellent VW Golf R, and another Renault Sport we can add to its growing list of instant legends of the hot hatch genre.

What matters most

What we liked: Outstanding handling and grip, responsive and rewarding engine, race-inspired cabin.

What we'd like to see: An easier to reach touch-screen, more than 100 of these limited editions for Australia.

Servicing and warranty: Five year/unlimited kilometres warranty, capped price servicing of $897 in total for the first three years.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Renault Sport Megane R.S. 275 Trophy.

Details: Three-door front-wheel drive hot hatch.

Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol generating maximum power of 201kW @ 5500rpm and 360Nm @ 3000rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed manual with limited slip differential

Consumption: 7.5 litres/ 100km (combined average).

Bottom line plus on-roads: $52,990.


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