Trophy for top shelf
A striking sports coupe on the road, Renault’s aggressive looking Megane RS275 Trophy is also promoted as a highly effective “track car’’. That means it’s perfectly capable of standing up to the rigours of hard driving on a racetrack and backing up for everyday tasks.
Makers spruik similar claims for quite a few current models but the Renault stands out. Its pedigree is backed by Renault Sport (RS) which is responsible for numerous F1 wins.
In the semi-motor sport track day world, the Megane RS275 Trophy ($52,990) has a further claim — it’s the world’s fastest front-wheel drive production car.
ON THE TRACK
We took the Trophy to a oneday event organised on what is called a super sprint format. In other words, not racing against other vehicles but against the clock … with other vehicles on the track at the same time.
At Wakefield Park near Goulburn the Megane showed impressive grip and an absence of understeer (front wheels pushing wide) or tail-happy oversteer, thanks to the clever diff and other electronic tricks.
The chassis feels rock-solid and there’s a decent amount of compliance in the suspension to soak up rough surfaces. Brakes are superb even after copping a hammering and the Bridgestone Potenzas maintain excellent grip lap after scorching lap.
Engine performance is strong with a bias to the midrange when it comes to acceleration. It’s a lazy driver’s car — all that grunt gets you out of corners quickly and efficiently even if you’re in a higher gear than you need.
There are multiple drive modes. For the track, preselect full RS Race mode to get optimised engine output and steering and throttle response. And after the event, you can download crucial information about the car and your driving, so there’s nowhere to hide.
The RS surprised other drivers at the track day, some with near race-tuned cars, dispatching many of them or staying with the more fancied runners — remember, this is a
road car, not a track special. Great fun!
The Trophy is the top model in the local Megane line-up. A stripped-out R version is on the way soon, a further 100kg lighter but lacking a rear seat.
The car‘s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo produces, as the name suggests, 275 horsepower (or 201kW) and peak torque of 360Nm to propel its 1376kg. The 0-100kmh sprint takes about 5.8 seconds but feels sharper than that. Average thirst is 7.5L/100km.
It’s not the quickest off the mark by a long shot but the chassis is the defining feature, enabling the Trophy to do what it does to perfection. The feeling is astonishing from any car, let alone a front-driver. Renault Sport tweaks pretty much every dynamic aspect of the Trophy.
Trick items include big Brembo brakes and 19-inch alloys. The titanium exhaust from motorcycle aftermarket specialist Akrapovic is super light and gives the Trophy a striking bark with a rumble on throttle overrun — it looks supercool, too, with a carbonfibre tailpipe.
The interior is equipped to luxury car standard, the pair of skinny Recaro sports seats with leather and alcantara inserts matching the alcantara-clad steering wheel.
The multifunction info readout even registers the degree of wheel spin upfront.
The Trophy‘s Euro5 emissions compliance mandates engine stop-start. Its 65-35 weight distribution seems less than ideal but actually works.
Fuel injection is multipoint rather than direct injection and suspension is simple MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear. Steering is electrohydraulic.
On paper, these may cause you to doubt the Trophy’s capabilities — but rest assured, it all works to perfection.
Awesome, whether on the road or on the track.
Barn-storming: Carsguide’s man at the track day, left