When it comes to hot hatches, the French have always shown style and panache so enthusiasts eagerly awaited the arrival of the Mégane Renaultsport 265 – Renault’s fastest ever road car to date.
They’ve not been disappointed. With power and torque both substantially increased over this lithe little car’s predecessor, top speed is now 158 mph, with a blistering 0-62 mph acceleration time of just six seconds – and there’s limpet-like road-holding to match.
With exceptionally high seat side bolsters to negotiate, getting into the thing was akin to conducting a military operation but it was worth all the contortions once you got seated because no perch was ever better fit for purpose.
A hard suspension means you feel the slightest ripple on the roadway right through the seat of your pants but never will you feel as much at one with the car your are driving – it was like being welded into the very fabric of the vehicle. Take it from me, those high bolsters and firm cushions will give you comfort and security for mile after mile of hard driving.
Two chassis settings available: the standard Sport chassis and the Cup chassis, which features a limited slip differential. Differentiating the 265 from the standard Mégane, Renaultsport PerfoHub front suspension is fitted at the front, featuring aluminium double-axis strut front suspension for the negation of torque steer, that curse of high performance front-wheel drive cars.
On the inside, stylish new interior trim has been introduced, featuring visible red stitching for the steering wheel, dashboard trim, gearlever knob and surround. The new, tastefully distinctive two-tone light grey and charcoal leather upholstery can also be specified as an option, as can fabric or leather Recaro seats and a predominantly yellow ambience.
Other sporty details include a black lacquer finish for the centre console and air vent surrounds, plus a charcoal-effect finish for the door panel inserts.
The wheels are low profile – and then some – 19-inch Speedline alloys painted black gloss with red trim and shod with wide, Formula 1 inspired, Bridgestone Potenza tyres
Fire up the turbo-charged two-litre engine and there’s an instant feel of raw power just waiting for the taps to open yet this car will happily cope with the traffic jam crawl without any feel that it is chomping at the bit.
I did have one niggle, though. In ordinary size elevens I found my left foot habitually getting caught under the lip of the clutch pedal – most disconcerting!
It is, though, out on the open road that this sporting gem belongs – in the company of Porsche 911s and the like. You get a helluva car for your £25,000-plus.