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Renault Megane Renaultsport 250 review (2010 onwards)
Model: Renaultsport Megane 250
Bodystyle: three-door hatch
Engine: 2.0-litre, turbo petrol
Transmission: six-speed manual
The fastest of all the Meganes, and also the best, this is the Renaultsport version of the funky hatchback with 250bhp - as the name denotes - for explosive forward propulsion.
It replaces the Megane 225 which, confusingly, came in various guises over the years, ending with the ultra-extreme R26.R with 230bhp, Perspex windows and a roll cage.
This new Megane isn't as track-focussed as the R26.R, though you can buy a Cup version with stiffer suspension if you're after a more intense drive. And don't rule out Renault launching a more thrilling version in the near future.
Where does it fit?
Hot hatch buyers are spoilt for choice, from the supremely-talented-but-slightly-dull VW Golf GTi to the mad 300bhp Ford Focus RS. The Megane 250 slots into the middle of these two and, better still, is the cheapest of the trio.
It isn't as spirited to drive as the Focus but it is faster and more exciting than the Golf. The version we tested cost £1,000 more than the Cup, but at £24,160 it's a relatively inexpensive way to travel so quickly.
Is it for you?
If a top speed of 156mph and a 0-62mph time of 6.1 seconds appeals then yes, this Renaultsport is definitely for you. But more impressive than these headline-grabbing figures is the way the Megane 250 drives.
Unlike the Focus RS, which develops significant wheel wiggle when you plant your foot from rest, the Megane's front wheels find astonishing grip and launch you off the line.
It also looks more aggressive than the majority of its rivals: a large central exhaust lends it an air of supercar-ness, the curving roofline, small windows, air vents on the bumper and unique alloy wheels making it probably the best-looking hot hatch you can buy.
What does it do well?
Renaultsport engineers are masters of chassis development and it shines through on this latest model. Body lean when cornering hard is kept to a minimum and the steering is so well defined that the moment you turn the car follows.
The noises leaving the exhaust will make you give up listening to the stereo; it pops, bangs, fizzes and roars with excitement when you plant your right foot.
The Megane is also the only car in the hot hatch class to benefit from a three-stage Electronic Stability Programme, which basically means you can tune the throttle response and encounter less computer intervention.
Inside, there's the Renaultsport Monitor, an onboard telemetry system which can record real-time lap information, g-forces and performance and engine data. Useful if you're a track-day regular; Renault organises a fantastic calendar of track days in the UK.
What doesn't it do well?
As you'd expect, the ride quality is compromised by the stiff suspension and the large 19-inch alloy wheels - a Golf GTi will cover ground with less suspension interference being transferred into the cabin.
The gear shift, while positive and well placed for a quick shift, isn't as slick as some of the best gearboxes out there and, not that we'd necessarily want it, you can't specify the Megane 250 with a paddleshift double-clutch automatic gearbox.
What's it like to live with?
This fast Megane is impeccably finished inside and it's only when you run your hand down to the lower reaches of the cabin that you notice some of the materials aren't as plush as the others.
The sporting image from outside is carried on into the interior, too; there's a yellow rev counter like you get on a Ferrari, the leather steering wheel is stitched and the optional Recaros hold you firmly in place and have their own internal side airbags.
For comfort, there's a two-zone climate control system, hands-free entry and start, a TomTom sat-nav system and a powerful stereo with USB functionality.
Braver buyers might also like to spec the 'Yellow Interior Pack' that adds yellow seatbelts, part-yellow upholstery, yellow stitching on the gear lever and yellow door panels.
How green is it?
Well, you aren't going to win any environmental awards, especially if you use all 250 horses to the full. However, driven conservatively, you should see 33.6mpg combined.
Emissions of 195g/km aren't horrendous but they lag behind some rivals such as the VW Golf GTi. If you're a company car driver, it means a tax bill of £1,300 a year for lower-rate tax payers.
Would we buy it?
Absolutely - this is probably the best all-round hot hatch on sale. Well priced, rapid, not so extreme that you'll regret motorway journeys, but special enough to liven up a track day, it's little wonder the Megane 250 picked up a prestigious performance car award.
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