Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy review
We drive the Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy, Renault's hottest hatch yet
The Renaultsport hot-hatch dynasty has another classic to add to its ranks. The Megane 275 Trophy doesn’t have the everyday comfort and usability of a SEAT Leon Cupra 280, plus it costs a few hundred pounds more even before you’ve added the race-spec dampers and tyres. However, do so and you’ll have one of the best-handling hot-hatches ever made, capable of both tackling the school run and lap times to shame most sports cars.
The Nurburgring circuit in Germany isn’t the best representation of real-world driving conditions, but there’s no better place to test the new Renaultsport Megane 275 Trophy. A faster, more focused version of the already-impressive Renaultsport Megane 265, it’s a car developed specifically to tackle the notorious twists and turn of the Norschleife. An even more extreme, stripped-out, two-seater version of this car, called the 275 Trophy-R, recently stole the front-wheel drive Nurburgring lap record back from the SEAT Leon Cupra 280 – lapping the 12.9-mile track in 7 minutes 54 seconds. But the standard 275 Trophy we had the chance to test, keeps one eye on usability. Using the recently-facelifted Renaultsport Megane 265 as a starting point it keeps all four seats, but comes with the stiffer cup chassis and front limited slip differential as standard. Tweaks to the 2.0-litre turbocharged engine’s ECU and a bespoke Akrapovic titanium exhaust unlocks an extra 10bhp, although torque remains at 360Nm. As a result the 0-62mph time is cut by two tenths to 5.8 seconds, while top speed stays at 158mph. For trackday enthusiasts, the real performance gains come from a pair of options, both of which were fitted to our test car. For £2,000 Renaultsport will factory fit fully-adjustable Ohlins suspension (although you’ll have to get you hands dirty and change each corner manually), while Michelin has developed a set of Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres specifically for this car.
As a Nurburgring newbie, learning the track, trying to avoid the barriers and feel the subtle differences in the Trophy’s setup was always going to be a tall task, but several changes are immediately apparent. The first is the new exhaust which get a much bassier note, even at idle, and emits more of a full-blooded blare when you’re flat out. Secondly, rather than making the ride more punishing than the standard car, the Ohlins dampers actually help the car flow with the surface better at high speeds and keep all four tyres in contact with the road surface. The extra power is harder to sense, but then the Megane 265 was never a slow car. Keep the revs up mid-corner (peak power is produced at 5,500rpm) and you can feel the differential sending power to the outside tyre and firing you out the other side. But this car is so much more than a one trick pony – the steering has directness and feel to it that’s so often lacking in modern performance cars, while the ability to adjust the car on the throttle - a Renaultsport hallmark - makes it feel alive beneath you.
Approach a corner too fast and the car understeers gradually, but with a small lift the nose tucks back in instantly, so you can still find a fast line out the other side. It’s brilliantly addictive and feels incredibly secure thanks to the tight body control and rock-solid stability at high speeds. The question is whether the Trophy (which is limited to 100 cars for UK buyers initially, although more are available if there’s sufficient demand) is worth the £2,000 premium over the standard car, and that’s before you’ve added the uprated tyres and dampers. If you’re a keen driver and a regular track-day attendee we’d have to say yes as that premium includes a differential, Recaro bucket seats, the cup chassis and titanium exhaust – which would cost significantly more to add as options on the standard car. Is also transforms one of our favourite performance cars into one of the best-handling hot-hatches we’ve ever driven.
Read all about the Renault Megane Renaultsport 275 Trophy-R and its Nurburgring lap record.