The Renault Megane Renaultsport might have scooped the top-priced hot hatch accolade in the 2014 What Car? Awards, but Renault clearly thinks it needs a helping hand if it’s to keep rivals such as the VW Golf GTI and Ford Focus ST at bay.
To that end it’s been given a face-lift. Exterior changes include a new front bumper, bonnet and vent grilles, along with new elliptical headlights and different daytime running lights.
Thankfully, Renault has adopted the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality with the oily bits, which is very good news indeed because the Megane Renaultsport has always been exceptional to drive. Emissions and economy are also unchanged.
However, the entry-level Cup trim, which brought firmer suspension and a limited slip differential, has been ditched. These extras – along with black alloys, uprated brakes and red calipers – are now available as part of a Cup Chassis Pack, which adds £1350 to the standard car’s £26,925 list price. The test car shown here was fitted with said Pack.
What’s the 2014 Renault Megane Renaultsport like to drive?
As fantastic as ever. The turbocharged 2.0-litre engine really likes to rev and delivers its power in a delightfully linear fashion and with a suitably rorty soundtrack. This is a hot hatch that’s genuinely fast in a straight line.
You’ll appreciate the Cup Pack’s differential when tackling a twisty road. The Megane Renaultsport is so agile, grippy and composed, it’ll carry ridiculous pace into and through a bend, while wheelspin is kept to a minimum if you apply full power on the way out. In fact, even on the soaking wet Surrey roads we tested it on, the test car had very little trouble getting its 261bhp down onto the road.
The steering gives you a great idea of how much grip there is, and the superb body control and strong brakes are hugely confidence inspiring.
The optional (£1000) 19-inch alloys on our car mean the ride is undeniably firm, but Renaultsport has somehow managed to make sure most bumps are quashed with minimal fuss.
Yes, there’s a bit of wind noise on the motorway and the wide tyres kick up a racket on coarse surfaces. Like the firm ride, refinement is far from unacceptable; you just need to make sure you can put up with it on a daily basis.
What’s the 2014 Renault Megane Renaultsport like inside?
The Renaultsport seats are superbly supportive, and the steering wheel and pedals are perfectly aligned, so the driving position is pretty much spot-on.
Things are less impressive in the rear seats, where six-footers will want a bit more head- and kneeroom. Storage space is good and the boot is surprisingly deep, but you’ll have to lift your bags over a high lip and through a narrow opening.
Over-the-shoulder visibility is poor. You’ll certainly be glad that rear parking sensors are standard, but you really need to pay attention and check your blind spots when changing lanes on the motorway.
Aside from a couple of slightly lightweight switches, everything feels solid. The infotainment system brings sat-nav and Bluetooth as standard, but it isn’t the most intuitive to use.
Should I buy one?
The Megane Renaultsport is still brilliant to drive, delivering an adrenaline rush that few rivals can match. True, the Volkswagen Golf GTI demands fewer compromises – it’s quieter, more comfortable and has lighter controls – but if you want a hot hatch purely for driving thrills, the Megane is a better option.
However, where the Cup version used to cost £25,545, you now have to fork out £28,275 for essentially the same car, albeit with a bit more kit. That’s £2000 more than the VW Golf GTI 3dr, which will hold its value better.
You could spend £1350 less by going for the standard Megane Renaultsport, which is still an accomplished thing, but the Cup Pack really is worth the extra. It’s just a shame that the final asking price is now so much higher.
What Car? says…
Ford Focus ST
Volkswagen Golf GTI
Engine size 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Price £26,925 (plus £1350 for Cup Chassis pack)
Torque 266lb ft
Top speed 158mph
Fuel economy 37.7mpg (official)
CO2 emissions 174g/km