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Car reviews - Renault - Megane - RS250 Cup Trophee

Launch Story

Renault logo29 Oct 2010

By JOHN WRIGHT

WHEN Go Auto tested the Megane Renault Sport 250’s predecessor a few years ago, we said the car’s harsh ride made it more of a track weapon than the ideal daily driver.

On that occasion there was no racetrack involved, but the opposite applied this time around, so these drive impressions relate only to the track, where the car mostly shines.

It absolutely feels like a racetrack weapon. You sit low facing a handsome array of analogue instruments, including a joyous yellow-faced tachometer, there is a pleasingly gruff exhaust note and the Recaro seats in the Trophee were not only supportive but comfortable.

The ‘250’ refers to the fact that the engine produces approximately 250 brake horsepower (184kW), which is heaps in a vehicle that tips the scales at just 1393 kilograms.

On the short Broadford track, which was designed for motorcycle racing, the RS250 reached an indicated 170km/h down the two short straights. This left two gears to go and little question that, with enough road, it would easily attain the claimed top speed of 245km/h.

Its gearing would be even better suited to the road. Sixth gear gives 41km/h per 1000rpm, which is lower than many but should provide reasonably relaxed cruising, while the lower ratios are very well spaced.

At Broadford, it proved to be fast, with zero to 100 km/h acceleration in as low as 5.2 seconds and a standing 400 metre time in the mid-13s.

Eighty per cent of the engine’s generous 340Nm of torque is available from 1900rpm, but on the track the revs rarely dropped below 3000rpm. The car pulls strongly and never feels as if you need to push the redline in a lower gear, so there is abundant torque for road use.

The electric steering is calibrated for sporting use and feels very sharp and connected you are conscious of what the front wheels are doing under hard driving. Many purists still prefer rear-wheel drive, but this is a very impressive front-driver.

A limited slip differential is standard and this is an almost mandatory feature for a front-wheel drive car destined for the racetrack. There was still plenty of torque-steer and even wheelspin when extending the car out of tighter corners but, because the steering is so communicative and the chassis so well balanced, it was not an issue.

The electronic stability control is switchable through three stages, or you can turn it off completely, and the brakes are excellent, showing no sign of fade.

Understeer was only modest, mixed with a trace of lift-off oversteer, but overall this is a delightful track weapon, and café racer cool into the bargain.

No doubt the RS250 would deliver a very firm ride at low speeds over suburban roads, but that would be a small price to pay for its dynamic brilliance.

The Megane Renault Sport 250 is one of those rare test cars you just want to keep driving.

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