Hot hatches possess quite a strong French connection and the Megane RS250 can lay claim to having the strongest link.
French cars are quite an eccentric bunch although they’re up there with the best of the automotive world when it comes to technology. Quirky designs and unorthodox methods have often blessed then with a soft spot in our petrolhead hearts but the majority of us still wouldn’t touch some of their cars with a 10-feet pole.
You could equate them to the ridiculously gorgeous and curvaceous but crazy and spontaneous girl we all know. Nice to hang out with and salivate over but would you really want to wife that?
However, if there’s one thing that the French do well; apart from baguettes, are hot hatches.
Yes, the usual suspects when it comes to an enthusiast’s first foray into a performance vehicle.
You really have to hand it to them for that. The French are aces with hot hatches and Renault pretty much has the trump card for turbocharged hatches that put a smile on your dial, make great haste and can lap this obscure circuit somewhere in Germany pretty quickly.
Renault has a rich history in hot hatches. Just one look at the bonkers Renault 5 Turbo is all the convincing one would need to believe in the superiority of their hatches. Mad intent on dominating rallying, competition from Lancia forced Renault to move the engine behind the driver, creating a mid-engined, rear-wheel drive super hatch that spits in the face of gravel.
Their latest mad-hatter hatch isn’t quite as extreme but its performance certainly is. The Megane RS250 is the works of Renault Sport and as the name suggests, packs a 250hp punch under the hood.
It doesn’t stop there though as the chassis tuning and handling package made it among the best handling front-drive hatches and is still considered an elitist in the performance hatch segment in its latest form.
The Megane RS250 here comes in the much sought after Cup guise that adds a stiffer chassis, track focused suspension, a limited slip differential and less weight to its already formidable arsenal.
Many of the motoring journos and owners wax lyrical about the Megane’s sublimely neutral handling traits, likening it to a rear-driven car at the limits and singing praises at its ability to resist understeer.
In stock form, it’s a magnificently capable car and lapped Sepang in 2:38:16 in a bone stock unit that had been used, abused and absolutely flogged to within an inch of its life by the motoring media and customers alike. The only change was a switch to super sticky Toyo semi-slick rubbers.
As the age old adage goes however, a little more power never hurt anyone though.
This Megane RS250 has been given a gentle bump up in power without going overboard and running the car’s beautiful balance.
Starting with the engine, the inline-four turbocharged motor now inhales better through a K&N open pod intake and exhales via a Super Sprint 2.75-inch complete exhaust system that also conveniently amplifies that deep, bassy engine note.
To better maximise the humble new additions and extract the most out of the engine, a custom engine remap by RS Tuning was carried out by RSC Advance Auto and the car not only houses a few more horses in its barn but they seems to be prized stallions as well.
Given the modest increase in power, the stock six-speed transmission was deemed still fit for the job and has not dropped the ball yet.
Stopping on a dime is essential in a hot hatch and in this case, the factor four-piston Brembo monoblocks are still more than up to the task but for some extra bite, Endless CCRG brake pads were fitted up front while the rear got upgraded with RF650 pads, also from Endless. To improve brake feel, K-Tec stainless steel brake hoses completed the braking department.
Given the Megane’s razor sharp handling traits, the quote “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” came to mind. Hence, only minor alignment upgrades found themselves on the car in the form of pillow ball mounts from Fawster in the front and camber plates in the rear.
The sole purpose of this is to allow for more aggressive alignment settings when hitting the track or favourite touge route.
Of course, some stickier rubbers and wider wheels would go a long way in improving traction. After all, even the stock Megane RS250 switched to semi-slicks when setting its record time at Sepang.
Volk Racing RE30 wheels measuring 18-inches across and 8.5-inches wide sit at all four corners and are wrapped in Yokohama Advan Neova AD08R rubbers in a 245/40R18 size.
Inside, things are completely stock and why wouldn’t they be? The Megane’s interior is quite a special place to be in with those semi-bucket Recaros and yellow strip at 12 O’clock on the steering wheel that screams performance. There’s one new toy in there though and it’s a Sparco racing harness to hold the driver in place during high-G turns and hard braking.
Right out of the factory, the Megane RS250 was such a capable hatch and going overboard with the upgrades would have soiled the fine work of the Renault Sport engineers. This right here is one way to bump up the fun factor without ruining the ride.
HYPERFACTS! Car – Renault Megane RS250
Engine Mods – K&N open pod intake, Super Sprint 2.75-inch complete exhaust system