If an engaging, smile-inducing, hard edged hot hatch is your thing, the Renault Sport Megane RS265 has you covered.
Around town and as a daily driver, the RS has its drawbacks. The ride is firm with a capital F. Although composed and not crashy, it can be pretty tough commuting on our rugged roads. The long heavy doors with their handles mounted a bit too far forward combined with the hard-shell backed Recaro Sportster seats in this Trophy spec, make for some ungainly entry and exits to and from the cockpit.
Rear vision is poor, with the only reversing assistance coming from audio-only sensors. Some cabin controls are unusual in their location and layout, although it only takes an hour or so for it all to gel. Rear seat passengers suffer from a sloping roofline. Legroom isn't atrocious, barring the aforementioned hard shell Recaro's that don't provide much comfort to knees and legs.
However, all is completely forgiven once you hit the Sport button to sharpen throttle response, raise ESC limits and find some twisty roads to let loose on.
The level of driver engagement is through the roof. The firm ride becomes a thing of beauty, with the car urging your to push harder and get on the gas earlier than what you thought was possible out of the corners. The LSD and Continental Sport Contact 5 rubber provide such a massive amount of front end grip, it makes your brain explode.
The steering is precise, well weighted and let's you feel every twig & stone passing under the front wheels. Glorious stuff. The Recaro's become your new best friend, locking you in the perfect position to carve though the bends. At the edge of the front grip levels, the rear end will start to slide out just a fraction, allowing you to bring the nose back in and blast out all in one smooth, seamless apex destroying motion. - This never fails to amaze! The front 340mm rotors and Brembo 4 pot brakes do a great job with good pedal feel and fade resistance. You get the feeling these brakes won't let you down, no matter how much abuse they take.
The engine has a decent note for a 4 cylinder, Sport mode also sees some lovely pops and bangs come from the exhaust on the overrun and down changes. 195kw and 360nm paired with a 1380kg weight, while not class-leading, still makes for a rapid car.
Forget the old moniker of French vehicles being unreliable, these things are bullet proof. Servicing is capped for the first 3 years at $299, with some models eligible for a 5 year warranty.
French cars do seem to suffer from bad depreciation, and the Megane is no exception. A 2012-2013 RS265 Trophy can be had for $25000-30000 now, with very low kms making these the best bargain on the planet for purists.
The RS265 just meshes together to form one of the best hot hatches ever made when it comes to spirited driving. I've often heard them described as a poor man's GT3, well it's a great time to be poor!