Hot-hatch anoraks will recall the previous-generation Renaultsport Megane R26.R – it featured a roll-cage instead of back seats, plastic windows and a carbon-fibre bonnet to cut weight and create one of the most extreme road cars of its day. Only 159 examples were ever sold in the UK, and it’s still regarded as one of the finest handling hatchbacks of all time.
To capture the front-wheel drive Nurburgring lap record from the SEAT Leon Cupra, Renaultsport knew it had to take the Megane 275 Trophy to the limit. The result is the Trophy-R, a spritual successor to the R26.R that cuts 101kg from the Trophy’s kerbweight thanks to deleting the back seats, rear wiper and air-conditioning and adding fixed racing seats, composite front suspension coils and an optional lithium-ion battery. Only 250 examples will be offered globally, with just 30 making it to the UK priced at a whopping £36,430,
We were treated to a passenger lap of the Nurburgring in the Trophy-R with legendary French rally driver Jean Ragnotti behind the wheel. Despite closing in on his 70th birthday, Ragnotti wasn’t holding back and demonstrated with his loose, rally-honed, driving style just how adjustable the Trophy-R really is. At each corner he merely presented the car to the curve then used the brakes and dabs of throttle to trim his line and position the car perfectly for the exit.
We suspect differences between the Trophy and Trophy-R will be more apparent when we get the chance to drive both on the road. The Trophy-R’s lack of sound-deadening, air-con and a radio (the latter two can be replaced at the customer’s request) will no doubt become tiresome on the daily commute, for example, but out here on the world’s toughest racetrack there’s precious little to between how the £28,930 Trophy and £36,430 Trophy-R dance deftly from corner to corner.
So unless your after a collector’s item with record-breaking pedigree, we’d save the cash and stick with the equally-brilliant Trophy.