We’ve driven some fantastic, red-hot, motorsport-derived European hatchbacks this year and Renault has rounded-out 2010 with the outstanding all-new Megane Renault Sport 250.
So if you missed-out on Ford’s limited edition Focus RS don’t despair, Car Showroom has just tested the Cup Troph?e version of the Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 and rest assured, it’s ‘The Business’.
Sure it doesn’t have the raw, World Rally Championship bodywork of the Focus, but the Megane Renault Sport 250 has plenty of racy aero kit, a large central exhaust, massive Brembo brakes, Recaro seats in the stylish interior…and its turbocharged, 184kW/340Nm 2.0-litre engine gives the ESP a workout under hard acceleration.
Oh, and priced at $46,990 ($41,990 for the standard ‘Cup’ version), the Megane Renault Sport 250 will save you come coin over the $59,990 Focus (all 315 of which are sold out we hear).
Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 Overview
The Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 is the coupe version of the Megane hatchback and its launch in Australia follows a line of superb Renault hot hatchbacks – most recently the F1 team R26.
Over the standard ‘Cup’ version, the Renault Megane Renault Sport Cup Troph?e gains 19-inch alloy wheels, Renault Sport Recaro seats, grey bumper inserts and rear diffuser, plus a tyre pressure monitor amongst its extra inclusions.
It’s a good looker, beautifully styled inside and out with French sophistication and obvious motorsport inclusions from Renault Sport Technologies including onboard telemetry.
And for those keen on video games, the Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 is the star of the latest release Electronic Arts (EA) series ‘Need For Speed Shift’ – a sure sign this French rocket has ‘cred’ amongst performance car enthusiats.
Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 Engine
Renault Sport’s 2.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged, four-cylinder engine delivers 184kW of power at 5500rpm and peak torque of 340Nm from 3000rpm. Some 80 per cent of that torque is available from as low as 1900rpm, ensuring linear acceleration which extends all the way to the redline at 6000rpm.
Combined cycle fuel consumption is 8.7l/100kms and exhaust C02 emissions are rated at 195g/km.
Power and torque are both up over the previous Renault Megane R26 thanks to continuously variable valve timing, revised fuel injection mapping and enhanced turbocharger performance, particularly at low engine speeds.
In fact more than 25 per cent of the engine’s component s are new, including pistons and conrods, intake ports and intercoolers for water and oil.
Drive is to the front wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. A limited slip differential and ESC is standard.
Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 The Interior
First comment from all the Car Showroomers when they climbed aboard was about the Renault Megane Renault Sport 250’s seat belts – they’re yellow. Seat belts don’t have to be black and yellow is the Renault Sport racing colour – that difference was just the starting point for this hot hatch’s stylish interior.
Those yellow seats belts are part of the Yellow Ambience pack which contrasts with the charcoal colour trim via a yellow face for tachometer, yellow trim in the Recaro seats and yellow stitching on the leather-wrapped sports steering wheel and gear lever.
Instruments in the Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 are three gauges (tacho, speedo and trip computer) all housed in a nice, curved binnacle. Pedals and the left footrest are alloy and the steering wheel adjusts for rake and reach – of course that combination and the tight, height-adjustable Recaros ensures a perfect, sporty driving position.
The Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 delivers some surprising luxury like steering wheel-mounted cruise control and climate control air-conditioning.
Sound is an Arkamys 4-speaker, single CD system including Bluetooth with audio streaming.
The Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 provides accommodation for three people in the rear seat which is surprisingly spacious for a two-door coupe and affords reasonable legroom.
With its curved exterior, the rear hatch opening on the Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 is on the small side, but looks can deceive and the cargo capacity is a handy 377-litres
Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 Exterior & Styling
The Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 has real performance car ‘cred’ thanks to its sweeping lines, broad wheel arches (the fronts with air extractor vents), large rear diffuser with a central exhaust and the menacing front-end styled after the Renault R28 Formula One racer.
Like current F1 machines, the aerodynamics on the Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 are a work of art. This is particularly noticeable at the front with the low front splitter and bumper aero blade.
The Cup Troph?e model as tested is highlighted by black 19-inch ‘Steev’ alloy wheels with low-profile Michelin ‘Pilot Sport’ tyres.
Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 On The Road
We ran the Renault Megane Renault Sports 250 over our usual combination of city roads and our high-speed mountain roads test loop.
Around town, like all hot hatchbacks, the ‘Troph?e was docile, refined and untroubled by the peak hour crawl. The only inconvenience was rear three-quarter visibility when reverse parking (small, dark-tinted rear windows and a thick C-pillar).
Naturally the taut, sporty suspension was a tad firm over Melbourne’s tram and train track crossing (same for all European performance cars)
Of course the Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 raised our heartbeats when we hit the loopy, swoopy mountain roads we use for high speed ride and handling work. The 2.0-litre turbo really comes on strong once you pass 4000rpm with a great noise (Renault tuned the exhaust specifically) and the odd chirp from the turbocharger on gear-shifts and trailing throttle.
Suspension development work by Renault Sport for the latest Megane Renault Sport 250 centered on reducing the unsprung weight – alloy is used for the pivot, pivot carrier and lower control arm in the front suspension. With a separate front subframe and programmed-deflection torsion beam rear, it’s a complex, high-tech set-up and it certainly work wells.
The Megane Renault Sport 250 delivered an exhilarating, driver-involved performance (Renault Sport Dynamic Management provides three modes for the ESP) – every bit as good as the highly-praised Volkswagen Golf R. Those Michelin tyres hung-on better than a telephone salesperson, turn-in is crisp and chassis balance spot-on.
Without doubt one of the best performances of any car this year over our high-speed run.
Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 Challenges
A minor score deduction in the convenience department – the thick, steeply-sloping C-pillar restricts rear three-quarter visibility when reverse parking.
Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 Verdict
We love European hot hatchbacks and the Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 is one of the best we’ve driven this year. Its brilliant looks and stylish interior score big points.
Renault’s continuing Formula One racing also carries some ‘cred’ in this league.
And we congratulate Renault for taking it up to the all-conquering Volkswagen Golf R with a very competitive price. In fact the Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 is a bargain.
Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 The Competition
For us, Ford’s Focus RS is the king of European hot hatchbacks – its 224kW/440Nm is hard to beat – but only 315 came into the country, priced at $59,990 and Ford says they’re all gone.
Volkswagen’s three-door Golf R (manual), at $48,490 is almost $2,000 more expensive, has four extra kWs but is 10Nm shy of the Renault Megane Renault Sport 250.
Honda Civic Type R (made in England so it’s European) at $39,990 is great value but doesn’t match the Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 for looks/French style and is a fair bit short under the bonnet.
Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 Likes:
Sharp price; looks the business; stylish interior; great drive
Renault Megane Renault Sport 250 Dislikes:
Awkward to reverse park