Hot-hatch, two words that go together like fish and chips, salt and pepper. These cars are truly fantastic as they attempt to offer super car thrills for hatchback money with great success. The joy of thrashing a small, lightweight hatch with a big engine is limitless on one of England’s many B-roads. However the best hot-hatches to come out of the industry are the ones born out of spite… When companies such as Renault say to Ford “anything you can do, I can do better”. These rivalries generate some of the most amazing peace’s of machinery with neither manufacture backing down. It could be argued that it was the original Golf GTI that sparked the initial blaze that has now become an international fire fight, regardless its now not the only one. Ford appears to be king of the pile with their phenomenal Focus RS, well that’s what I though until I took the latest contender for a spin…
This is the Renault Megane Renaultsport 250 Cup in “what are you looking at”yellow. That’s rule number one of being a hot-hatch, the louder your paint the better! This rather sleek two door terror growls at other cars in the car park like your Nan does over the last pork chop. It really does tick all the boxes in the looks department with its centred exhaust and sporty diffuser. Its racing trinkets continue on the inside with bulging gear knob and bright yellow rev-counter. As if it doesn’t excite the boys from Essex enough it also comes with bolstered racing seats!
Ok, so it has the looks to take on the bad boys, but what about the numbers? Rule number two, the bigger the better. Our test car had a two litre turbocharged engine producing 247BHP, which is great but it’s not RS rivalling as it has a 2.5 litre turbocharged engine with 305BHP. As a result 0-60mph in the Megane is 6.1 seconds and the Focus 5.9. However, rule number three of being a hot-hatch is price, it must be cheap or else you may as well go and buy that sports car. Now this is where the Renault claws its way back into the fight, our fully loaded Cup version with all the toys and special racing set-up only costs £21,995.The Focus? £26,995! Don’t get me wrong, the RS is magnificent but it’s no way near £5,000 better than the Cup. In fact the Renault on many levels is more appealing.
It assaults the road with the enthusiasm of a dog let of its lead. The more miles you clock up in this car the better it gets! The cornering is light yet gives plenty of feed back to the driver as it darts from crest to crest. Those previously mentioned bolstered seats aren’t just for display either as they do a fine job of keeping you in the seat as this nimble car does its thing. It feels blisteringly quick with good levels of grip throughout the gear range. But the Renaults hidden talent is that after you finish scorching the tyres and revving it to hell and back it will settle down and get on with taking you to where you want to go. The level of refinement shocked me after experiencing what this car is capable of. It seats four in comfort and all the gizmos just make life that little bit sweeter.
What would I buy? I honestly couldn’t tell you. If they were parked side-by-side I may reach for the Magane’s keys. The only downside of this generally biblical hot-hatch is rear visibility. But in truth, why do you need to see who’s behind you when after overtaking them you’re already in the next county!