First Drive

2016 Renault MΓ©gane RS 275 Cup-S review

It isn't long until Renault replaces its MΓ©gane, and one of the greatest hot hatches ever will go with it. Renault is saying goodbye with this run-out Cup-S Renault Sport model

Words ByNic Cackett

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Renault has been selling quick versions of the humble MΓ©gane for more than a decade now, and been doing spectacularly well at it. The current generation, based on the outgoing three-door CoupΓ©, is due to end production in the summer.

Before it does, the manufacturer is offering the car either in well-equipped 275 Nav format or as the 275 Cup-S – an equipment-lite throwback to days when fast Renaults were cheap to buy as well as brilliant to drive. We tried the Cup-S, which is priced from Β£23,935.

What's the 2016 MΓ©gane RS 275 Cup-S like to drive?

For now, it’s difficult to pass definitive judgement on the Cup-S in its most affordable format, because our test car's spec resembled the proverbial Christmas tree; it had everything added to it, including adjustable track-focused dampers and optional 19in wheels and tyres, not to mention a titanium exhaust that alone adds Β£2500 to the bottom line.

Nevertheless, there’s little doubt about the car’s underlying ability. As its name suggests, the 275 Cup-S adds the final 10bhp that was previously the preserve of the special edition Trophy models, meaning it gets 271bhp at the front wheels.

In a car weighing less than 1400kg, that translates into brilliant pace, and the chassis – including a traction-enhancing mechanical limited-slip front differential – is primed to take full advantage of this.

Doubtless some will think it immodestly firm (and vocal, with the bespoke exhaust), but the Cup-S is pitched solidly at enthusiasts, accepting of the usual sacrifice for a car that corners with such tangible verve and balance.

Some rivals may be capable of classier, more comfortable progress – and even superior straight-line speed – but few are as compulsively rewarding to drive as the MΓ©gane RS.

What's the 2016 Megane RS 275 Cup-S like inside?

There’s no getting away from it: inside, the Cup-S feels like a car at the end of its life cycle. That isn’t to say it’s poorly made or unappealing to look at, but think of it as a 1990s PC desktop in an Apple Mac world.

The infotainment screen – and its fiddly interface – must bear the brunt of that, although even this is an optional extra; in the standard car, there won’t be much of a display to look at, or a DAB tuner or sat-nav.

Predictably, the Nav 275 – starting at Β£25,935 – does reinstate the niceties, but in the bare-cupboard Cup-S, you’ll have to make do with basic air-con, cruise control and good old FM/AM stereo. The handsome Recaro seats are extra, too.

It’s not difficult, then, to see where Renault Sport has made cuts to keep the MΓ©gane cheap; the question is whether you can live with it next to its classier competition.

Should I buy one?

Snap one up, because this may be the best Renault Sport model for quite some time, but go in with your eyes wide open. While clearly not the most sophisticated, most rounded or the most economical option, the outgoing Renault Sport MΓ©gane is a superb driver’s car, and the fact that it can now be had for around Β£3500 less than a Volkswagen Golf GTI only reiterates the Cup-S’s compelling value for money.

Suggesting you couldn’t go faster for less was an old Renault Sport adage; until they stop making the current MΓ©gane in July, we’re pleased to report that it rings true again.

What Car? says...

Rated 5 out of 5


Rivals

BMW M135i

Volkswagen Golf GTI


Renault MΓ©gane RS 275 Cup-S

Engine size 2.0-litre petrol

Price from Β£23,935

Power 271bhp

Torque 266lb ft

0-62mph 5.8sec

Top speed 158mph

Fuel economy 37.7mpg

CO2 174g/km