When you are at the cutting edge of F1 racing you have a fair old leg up if you also happen to make production cars. Therefore, it's hardly surprising that Renault can produce a car like the Megane RS265 - arguably the best front wheel drive car ever built.
That's a huge call but the Megane RS265 delivers the kind of drive feel you expect from a car costing over $100,000. It costs from $42,640 and don't forget, it's a FRONT wheel drive.
Spawned from the French Gendarmerie's requirement for a quick response car (read pursuit vehicle), the Megane RS 265 achieves 195kW(265hp)/360Nm output from its 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. It's a lot of grunt to feed through the front wheels but Renault equips its stove-hot hatch with a tricky differential as well as an independent steering axis to completely eliminate the dreaded phenomenon of torque steer that can hinder a high powered front driver.
More than that, the chassis is so well dialled in as to render all wheel drive redundant on all but icy roads. That means a substantial weight saving. Further saving weight and complexity is the RS265 six speed manual only suspension. There's not a dual clutch system to be seen and it doesn't need one.
On a drive program for the RS265, we covered roads previously driven in the latest Porsche 911. And there was precious little difference in the pace of the Renault compared with the Porsche - selling at five times the price. And you can actually accommodate two people in the back seat of the Megane RS265.
It has cornering capabilities like few other cars and really does feel like it's on rails at silly speeds. We took the car to a race track to extend the envelope but came away humbled because not once did the stylish Renault put a wheel out of place. It makes mug punters look like hero drivers.
But there are some shortcomings. The engine redline is set at about 6500rpm and it needs to spin a little harder to eliminate unnecessary upchanges. The car also resets to Normal mode instead of staying in Sport where the extra power is available and the chassis is fully dialled up. The radio is still a challenge with fiddly small dials and labels.
It's just a better mouse trap, a bargain performance car that looks as good as it goes (and sounds). Santa, where did you go....
Renault Megane RS265 Cup
Price: from $42,640
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl petrol, 195kW/360Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual, FWD
Dimensions: 4299mm (L), 1848mm (W), 1435mm (H)
Thirst: 8.2L/100km, 190g/km CO2