There's something very feline about this car. Like a big cat it sits coiled, muscles bunched, ready to spring into action. Renault describes the latest Megane RS 265 8:08 limited edition as the ultimate hot hatch and we're inclined to agree.
VALUE AND RANGE
Megane RS 265 is available in three editions; entry level Cup ($42,640), sporty Trophy ($47,140) and luxury Trophy+ ($51,640). This one the limited edition Trophy 8:08 is $49,990 and only 100 examples are coming to Australia. The 8:08 is for the time the car set at the Nurburgring where it holds the lap record for a front drive car.
The 2.0-litre turbocharged four delivers an extra 11kW of power and an additional 20Nm of torque but only in sport mode. The rest of the time it's 184kW/340Nm. The engine is mated to a short shifting 6-speed manual transmission, with 0-100km/h taking 6.0 seconds flat. It's not as fast out of the gates as some but that's beside the point. Mid-range response is ferocious and Renault Sport's Cup chassis together with a limited slip diff deliver unbelievable traction.
A series of subtle exterior changes have been made, to project a more forceful image. The front end has been designed, with the F1-style front blade, characteristic of Renault Sport models, now featuring two rows of six LEDs and chrome highlights. In addition, the front headlight masks are now sporty black. New 18-inch matt black wheels rims are standard but the 8:08 gets black 19s fitted with 235/35 Bridgestone Potenzas the same tyre used for the record.
There's also leather trimmed Recaros, bi-xenon directional headlights and limited edition Trophy decals. In addition the Trophy 8:08 is available in two limited edition colours: pearl white and Renault Sport's signature liquid yellow.
Unfortunately the inside doesn't quite live up to the outside. It's all a bit drab apart from the yellow seatbelts and yellow stitching on the upholstery, steering wheel and gear lever knob. Other sporty appointments include a black lacquer finish for the centre console and air vent surrounds, plus a carbon-effect finish for the door panel inserts. The Recaros could do with some tilt adjustment and the forward mounted door handles lack leverage making it difficult to pull back when the large doors are swinging towards another car or a wall.
What a ripper. You won't want to give this one back. The new model benefits from some exhaust tuning and enhanced engine acoustics. Suffice to say it purrs like a pussycat on the motorway, turning over a lazy 2500 revs at 110km/h. Acceleration is strong, the clutch action is heavy at first and gear changes are not always as smooth as we'd like.
But it's in the twisty bits that this car really comes alive. Mid-range acceleration is phenomenal and it has an indecent amount of grip for a front wheel drive car. The four-pot 340mm Brembos allow braking deep into the corner.
Renault Megane RS 265
Price: from $42,640
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Safety rating: not tested
Spare: space saver
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl; 195kW/360Nm.
Transmission: 6-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body: 2-door coupe
Thirst: 8.2L/100km, 190g/km CO2
Hyundai Veloster Turbo
Price: from $31,990
Engine: 1.6-litre, four cyl turbo petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual or six-speed automatic
Thirst: 8.7 litres/100km
Mini John Cooper Works
Price: from $50,400
Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cyl petrol
Transmission: 6 speed manual, FWD
Thirst: 6.9 litres/100km
Volkswagen Scirocco R
Price: from $47,490
Engine: 2-litre, 4-cyl turbo-petrol
Transmission: 6-speed manual; FWD
Thirst: 8.1 L/100km
Ford Focus ST five-door
Price: from $38,290
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, 184kW/360Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Thirst: 7.4L/100km, 172g/km