Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, 195kW/360Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel-drive
Overall fuel economy: 8.2 litres/100km
C02 emissions: Euro 5, 190gr/km
Equipment: Includes Brembo brakes, xenon headlights, red or yellow seatbelts, tyre pressure monitor.
Factory warranty: Three-year/100,000km
Two great things about the Renault Sport Megane 265 Cup: it involves the driver more than any other car at the price, and it looks as good as it goes. It’s a three-door hatchback with a race-bred pedigree that sets the standard for thrills, especially through the twisty bits. It is called the RS265 because it delivers 265 horsepower, or 195kW, from a turbocharged 2-litre engine driving the front wheels via a close-ratio six-speed manual gearbox. Torque is 360Nm. It starts in price at upwards of NZ$53,000 with standard front seats, red seatbelts and 18-inch alloys. Add Recaro seats with yellow belts, 19-inch black alloys, tyre pressure monitoring, and keyless entry, and the price tops out at just under $NZ60,000. The cabin stands out from the crowd, thanks to the flowing design of the dash, soft-touch plastics and coloured stitching for the seats, steering wheel and gear lever. The Renault scoots from 0-100km/h in just over six seconds and on to a top speed above 250km/h. Its strength is its agile handling, accurate steering and throttle response, evident in normal running mode but especially heightened when you tinker with electronic performance aids in Sport and Extreme modes. Other, more subdued modes, are Linear and Progressive. Sport loosens up the reins; Extreme lets them go. Switching off electronic aids on some cars loosens them up to the point where they can be a handful. Not the 265. It becomes raw and refined at the same time, rewarding the driver with every throttle and steering input. But it’s best to leave traction control on – unless you are in a controlled driving environment. As Michael Schumacher said: “If you are as good as me turn it off; if you’re not leave it on.”
The most rewarding go-fast hatchback around.
Not so good
Needs sharper exhaust note in normal running mode.