Production of the current hot Mégane ends in July, so this is the end. Renault is finishing a long and illustrious run by making a sensibly cheap and really back-to-basics car that will thrill drivers everywhere. Because the basics are what this car is so outstanding at.
They’ve simply thrown some of the most desirable parts of previous and current cars at it while leaving out some of the fripperies, much as you’d do if you were making a competition car. For example under the bonnet is the full-house 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder kicking out 271bhp. You’d only have found that in Trophy cars before.
You also get the stiffer Cup chassis and a limited-slip diff in the front. And, just in case you’re getting visions that this is a stripped-out racer, there is air-con, cruise control, stereo, RS bodykit and upholstery and 18in alloys. But don’t expect too much more. You won’t find an infotainment touchscreen, no sat nav, no Alcantara.
The hot hatch trend, as evinced by the Ford Focus RS, VW Golf R and others, is to gain technology, weight and cost in the pursuit of thrills. This delightful Mégane keeps the flame burning for a car that is light, fairly simple and consequently a barrel of laughs and fun.
There just isn’t anything out there that combines such a harmonious connection between chassis, steering and directional directness. The way the chassis responds and communicates, the way the steering allows you to just think where you’re going and go there, the way the diff plays such a clever part in bringing it all together – it’s hard to believe that, come July, this will all be gone.
This is £7k less than a Golf R and yet it is superior in some ways. It’s the price of a Kia Optima yet you’re getting supercar thrills and satisfaction. It may soon be gone but it’s likely this is destined to become a classic, so good is it.
But don’t buy one and put it in humidity-controlled storage. Drive it, hard. You won’t find more excitement or enjoyment on the road for the price of the last, the great, Mégane RS 275 Cup-S.
Renault Mégane RS 275 Cup-S
Engine: 4 cyls, 1998cc, turbo, petrol
Power: 271bhp at 5500rpm
Torque: 266lb ft at 3000rpm
Gearbox: 6-spd manual
Kerb weight: 1394kg
Top speed: 158mph
Economy: 37.7mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 174g/km, 29%