Most of us will have to wait until the autumn to taste the new Renaultsport Mégane 250 – but the drivers in the European Mégane Trophy race series have got their hands on their 2009 cars now.
Although very different to the roadgoing model, these track-tuned machines show how serious Renault is about its hot hatches... so when we got the opportunity to drive one, we simply couldn’t say no!
The Trophy shares only its lights and screen with the road car. Under the composite body sits a spaceframe chassis and mid-mounted V6. A six-speed sequential box drives the rear wheels, while the suspension has fully adjustable dampers.
Its stunning looks might hint at the road car, but driving the Trophy leaves you in no doubt this is a track-bred race machine. The engine noise is intoxicating, while the grip generated by the ground effects and huge rear wing results in lap times which match those of GT3 sports cars.
Its braking, acceleration and cornering loads are immense, while the incredible gearbox offers instant upshifts which are combined with rapid engine blips on the downshifts. Only two pedals mean you have to use the steering wheel paddle-operated clutch when leaving the pits, and the superb digital information screen displays speed and engine revs.
Built at Renaultsport’s factory in Dieppe, France, this stunning competition car costs £126,000 new – some £100,000 more than the expected price of the road model. That’s likely to leave many drivers out of the race to own one, but if you want to get up close to this incredible Mégane, then don’t miss the Trophy when it comes to Silverstone on 4/5 July.
Rival: Ford Focus RS
With racing Focus hitting the track in this year's British Touring Car Championship the mighty RS has proved itself on both road an track. It's currently the fastest car in its class.
* Price: £126,000 (or £34,000 to upgrade 2008 car)
* Engine: 3.5-litre mid-mounted V6
* Power/torque: 360bhp/390Nm
* Transmission: Six-speed
* Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
* Weight: 955kg
* Standard equipment: Air-jack system, Magneti-Marelli data acquisition, gullwing doors
* On sale: Now