There are hot hatches and there are those from Renault Sport, the small and somewhat secretive manufacturing operation outside of Paris that builds what are arguably, the most capable performance hatches in the world, bar none.
It's big call for sure, but consider that the previous generation Megane R26.R still holds the lap record in its class for the unforgiving 21 kilometre Nurburgring Nordschliefe circuit from its run in 2008.
The latest secret weapon to emerge from the Renault Sport factory is new Megane Renault Sport 250 Cup and Cup Trophee, and they’re a couple of very good reasons to get along to this year’s Sydney Motor Show.
You’ll also see the superb looking New Megane Trophy on the Renault stand. It’s the racing version of the Megane RS 250 Cup with full aero package and powered by a rear mid-mounted 3.5-litre 24V V6 engine producing 268 kW @ 7,100 rpm and 390 Nm at 5,750 rpm.
It’s a rear wheel-drive tarmac rocket with a six-speed sequential gearbox with steering wheel mounted paddles and a limited slip, auto-locking differential.
Brakes are by AP Racing with ventilated front and rear discs with 6 and 4-pot calipers respectively, while suspension comprises independent double wishbones, Sachs compression-and –rebound- adjustable twin-tube spring shocks and front anti-roll bar.
It’s an awesome bit of kit and was inspired by the road going Megane RS 250 Cup.
While the previous generation Megane RS seemed to polarise opinions when it came to the car’s unusual styling, I doubt there will be any cause for differing opinions about the new generation car.
Any new ‘hot hatch’ from Renault Sport is generally worth the wait, especially when that car is charged with the difficult job of raising the performance bar over the previous iteration RS, even higher.
That shouldn’t be a problem for the new Megan Renault Sport 250, which is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine, boasting 184 kW and 340 Nm of torque from 3,000 rpm. It’s a twin-scroll turbo and is both responsive and torque rich at low revs with 80 percent of maximum pulling power available at just 1900 rpm.
On display at this year’s motor show is the ‘Cup Trophee’, which boasts a number of special features over the ‘Cup’ version, including Renault Sport Recaro seats (these are outstanding in every way), 19-inch alloys, tyre pressure monitor, smart key card, floor mats, satin chrome door handles, electric folding mirrors and grey bumper inserts (instead of black on the ‘Cup’) and diffuser.
It’s a seriously good-looking hatch, which is just as exciting in the cockpit.
Thankfully, the bright yellow seat belts have returned, as has, the Sport Yellow rev-counter and steering wheel stitching.
I had a brief play in the driver’s seat of the static car, and although it wasn’t long, it was long enough to keep me awake at night after night in anticipation of the press launch next week and our first opportunity to drive the car.
With a new system called ‘Power Start’ quick starts off the line should now be an all-grip affair with no loss of traction during fast getaways.
Published performance figures indicate 0-100km/h in 6.1 seconds, which while not earth shattering should satisfy most enthusiasts.
But it’s not straight-line performance that really counts when you’re behind the wheel of a Renault Sport car, it’s all about the bends and nobody does corners like a hot hatch from these guys.
Expect superglue-like grip and extreme levels of traction from the Megane RS 250 Cup, as well as punchy power delivery.
For track days, owners will be able to fully disconnect the ESP for faster lap times, which you can view on the Renault Sport Monitor, which displays onboard telemetry.
Amazingly, the standard RS 250 Cup is equipped with slotted brake rotors all round as standard kit and stopping power is thanks to Brembo 4-pot calipers up front.
Michelin Pilot Sport 2 (235/40) 18-inch tyres put the power to the ground on the Cup version, while the Cup Trophee is fitted with 19-inch 235/35 series tyres at the rear.
There are of course a host of other creature comforts on board the new Megane RS 250 Cup and we’ll be sure to cover those on the launch as well as, ‘how the car drives.'
Prices: The Megane Renault Sport 250 Cup from $41,990 (MLP) and the Cup Trophee is from $46,990.