Renaultsport Megane Cup 265

The updated Renaultsport Megane Cup 265 impressed on track, but is it a top choice for the road, too?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The Renaultsport Megane Cup is a stunning track and B-road performer that’s also usable every day. It’s the hard-edged hot hatch without peer. The firm ride is the only real compromise in town, though. The good news is there are ways to get around this – with smaller wheels or the softer-spec chassis – while keeping most of the punch.

We’ve driven the updated, more potent Renaultsport Megane Cup 265 on a smooth race track, where it excelled. But what’s this VW Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST rival like on the road?

The 2012 Cup has new wheels, new options and styling tweaks. The ‘265’ refers to the higher output from the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo and there’s an extra 20Nm of torque, too.

The Cup is the performance flagship of the Renault range, and has smaller 18-inch wheels and stiffer suspension than the regular hot Megane, as well as super-strong Brembo brakes.

Inside, supportive leather Recaro seats hold you firmly in place, while the chunky leather steering wheel and smooth gearshift keep you in touch with the mechanical bits. There’s Bluetooth and good luggage space, but not much rear legroom. So can the Cup survive the rush-hour commute?

Around town, it won’t win friends for its ride. Our test car is fitted with optional 19-inch alloys and the Cup’s stiffer chassis. This means you feel every bump – that’s a plus on track, but makes for a far-from-plush town car.

However, you do become accustomed to the stiffer ride quite quickly, and while it’s firm, it’s not too crashy. It will bruise you over potholes, though, so if you really can’t deal with it, don’t get the larger wheels, or buy the non-Cup version of the Megane.

The good news is that this is about the only negative from the Renaultsport’s performance. The ESP Sport setting delivers the full power output (Normal keeps it at 250bhp) and a delicious warble.

The blend of sharp throttle, super-responsive steering and instant bite from the Brembos allows the car to demonstrate its talent for avoiding buses, random taxi pull-ups and bicycles in city traffic. You’ll quickly close gaps in the traffic and get to that country road sooner.

The Cup is unashamedly about performance, but also offers a level of practicality that means it can survive life beyond the track. It’s not ideal in town, but you won’t find a more fun hot hatch once you’re out of it.

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