Renault Megane RS Trophy – Dear Santa….

It’s not often that my humble abode plays host to a record breaker. Usain Bolt doesn’t just randomly drop by for a cup of tea and Carlos Slim, the richest man in the world, does not pop over looking for investing tips. However this week my house, or more accurately my driveway, has been graced by the presence of the fastest front-wheel drive car ever to lap the formidable Nürburgring; the Renault Megane RS Trophy.

The Trophy’s time of 8 minutes and 7.97 around the near twenty-three kilometre circuit is impressive enough but what is even more impressive is the fact that the previous record holder, the Megane R26R was a stripped out, caged hardcore, barely road legal race car. The Trophy on the other hand has all the accoutrements you would find in a ‘normal’ Megane like air conditioning, multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth enabled radio/CD player and parking sensors but also has a 2.0-litre, 265bhp turbocharged engine under the bonnet, a chassis tuned by the experts in RenaultSport, Brembo brakes, sticky Bridgestone tyres and a good old fashioned limited slip differential. What it all adds up to is quite simply the performance car deal of the century.

Only 500 Megane RS Trophy’s will be produced and only 50 of those will be right-hand drive and while Renault Ireland have not confirmed that they will offer the car sources have revealed that if they do the car will come with a €42,000 (approx) pricetag. Now don’t get me wrong – that is a lot of money. A VW Golf GTI starts at €35,000 while the similarly powered SEAT Leon Cupra R comes in at less than €40,000. However the Trophy is in such a different league to its hot-hatch competitors it cannot really be compared to them – instead you have to think of much more expensive cars from the likes of Porsche before you find a true rival.

Performance from the Trophy is startling – 0-100km/h in six seconds dead and a top speed of 255km/h but straight line speed only tells half the story. Even less than that actually. The way this car defies physics as it scythes its way through corners would have Einstein heading back to the blackboard to rewrite the rules. Through the bends there is nothing that can keep with it, there is just too much grip, too much feel and too much power on hand. Front wheels have no right being able to transmit power to the road and look after the steering the way the Trophy’s 19-inch Speedline wheels do. And bar the Electronic Stability Package (ESP) that includes both traction and understeer control there are no electronic nannies keeping things in check. Just the LSD and a well sorted Cup Chassis that RenaultSport have fettled to perfection. If there is a week link in the chain it is the tyres and that is a strange thing to say of Bridgestone Potenza’s. Every once in a while they just cannot contend with the onslaught from the engine and begin to spin – upto fourth gear in the wet – forcing the traction control to step in and sort things out. But while this is happening you get the distinct impression that the car is thumbing its nose at the black rubber hoops and calling them names for wussing out.

When you are done driving like Sébastien Loeb though the Trophy can be remarkably civilised. Based on the Megane Coupe it can easily accommodate three adults of kids with their booster seats in the rear while the front occupants enjoy the supportive yet comfortable Recaro bucket seats. There is even enough space in the boot to swallow a pram or a weeks worth of shopping, although the opening is a little on the small side. And despite the racing inspired chassis you will not need to visit a chiropractor every time you hit a pothole. You will never mistakenly think you are drive a Rolls-Royce but unlike its little brother, the Clio RS, the Trophy does not crash and bang along country roads or find ripples in previously smooth motorways.

This really is a special car; yes at 8.3 litres/100km it can be thirsty and yes it will cost €630 per year for road tax but for the people this car is aimed these issues are secondary to how the car drives and on that point alone it is a winner!