Hot hatches don’t come any more extreme than this. The Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy R is the spiritual successor to the Megane R26.R and the exact car Renault used to set a new front-wheel drive Nurburgring lap record of 7min 54sec back in June. Now it’s available to 250 brave customers around the world, with just 30 examples coming to the UK.
Using the standard Megane 275 Trophy as a starting point, the ‘R’ strips out 100kg of weight by deleting the back seats (-20kg), air-con (-6kg), rear wiper (-1kg) and almost all the sound deadening (-21kg). It then adds comfier-than-they-look Recaro bucket seats (-22kg), 19-inch Speedline alloys (-5kg) and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.
Ohlins adjustable dampers, composite front springs and an Akrapovic titanium exhaust complete the standard equipment list, although you can go a step further (as fitted to our test car) with a £1,995 Nurburgring record pack that adds a lithium-ion battery (-16kg), six-point harnesses and larger but lighter front brake discs.
Let’s get the bad bits out of the way first. When you remove over 20kg of sound insulation, refinement suffers, so at 70mph the roar from the tyres drowns out the radio (a option mercifully put back in to our test car, along with sat-nav) and any conversation you were hoping to have with your passenger. The ride is brittle over pot holes and bumps, but not unbearably so, and a lack of back seats rules it out as a rapid family runaround, although it does leave a large luggage space where the rear bench used to be.
And then there’s the price. At £36,420 before you’ve added the Nurburgring record pack, it’s a full £7,500 more than the already-brilliant 275 Trophy. To justify that sort of outlay it’ll need to be absolutely stunning at the things it was designed to do well – post lap times and devour B-roads.
By the time you’ve inserted yourself into the high-sided Recaros, fastened your seatbelt and clipped into the harness it already feels like an event. You sit quite high, held firmly in place from the thighs to the shoulders and feel compelled to pull the wheel a little closer to your chest – living out your rally-driver fantasies. At low speeds the 271bhp turbocharged engine is just as flexible as any other hot Megane, and the gearchange just as sweet, but you need more space to discover what the Trophy-R is all about.
Give the engine full throttle and it responds quicker and snaps forward with more immediacy than the standard Trophy. Induction noise and tyre roar added to a blare from the Akrapovic exhaust mixes to produce a crescendo of sound that batters your eardrums. In a straight line the steering wheel tugs slightly in your hands, but in corners, once the differential has hooked up, the wheel seems to lock into place as you carve around the bend on your chosen radius.
Grip from the Pilot Cup Sport tyres is phenomenal in the dry and impressive on damp roads, which means the front end refuses to wash wide and responds instantly to your inputs. Back in June we took a passenger lap in the Trophy-R around the Nurburgring with Jean Ragnotti who demonstrated how adjustable the car can be on the throttle and brakes. On public roads its combination of grip, grunt and rock-solid stability mean it moves around less, but make it as fast over the ground as far more exotic sports and supercars.
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