Wild thing: the new Renault Megane Renaultsport 275 Trophy-R

Sean O'Grady discovers that this Megane is what's called a "track day tool" and should really be confined to such environments

PRICE £36,430 (£38,800 as tested
ENGINE CAPACITY 2-litre petrol
POWER OUTPUT (hp @ RPM) 275 @5,500
CO2 EMISSIONS (g/Km) 174

It is a startling experience, coming face-to-face with the Renault Megane Renaultsport 275 Trophy-R. My example presented itself in bright metallic white with unbelievably loud red stripes down the side, some glossy red wheels and a protruding, yes, red spoiler. This particularly lairy Renault looks like it has to be handled with great care and respect.

In truth, on paper, the performance doesn't look all that special. At least not by the spoiled standards of the average motoring hack – a 0-to-60mph time of 6.8 seconds. The top speed, as well as the engine, barks louder – 158mph – and it is some time since I drove something quite so accelerative. Mitsubishi Evos and Subaru Impreza Turbos have the same kind of urge. It simply never stops accelerating and it almost doesn't matter which of its six closely-spaced ratios you happen to be in: your nerve will run out long before the Megane runs out of momentum. It feels wild, it is wild and it is entirely impractical, obviously.

Renault has a long tradition of creating fast hatches and this is firmly in that line. I can well remember, for example, various Renault 5 Gordini/GT Turbos, a favourite of Ali G as I recall, and all now virtually extinct. The Clio V6 Turbo, also with the engine where the rear seats should be, was another fine experiment.

This Megane still has its engine in the front, but it also had its rear bench (20kg) and quite a lot of the soundproofing (21kg), air conditioning (6kg) and other kit chucked out to "add lightness", as they used to say at Lotus, and thus maximise performance. Also helping to make sure that less is more are the Recaro seats (saves 22kg) and an Akrapovic titanium exhaust (minus 4kg). Oh and a lithium-ion battery (worth 16kg), though this won't hold a charge for long, and is only of use on a race track, such as the north face of the Nürburgring, where the Megane scored the fastest time for a front-wheel-drive production car; or at least one with some very unusual features.

So this Megane is what's called a "track day tool" and should really be confined to such environments, being pushed to its limits and beyond. If you treat it as such, off the track and on the public road, you may well find people think you've become a bit of a tool yourself.

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