The Megane Renault Sport 275 is just one of a fine back catalogue of delightful Renault hot hatches. The three-door hatch appeals to serious enthusiasts with its firm ride and purposeful performance, while also providing decent everyday transport with space for four adults and a reasonably big load area.
Under the bonnet is a tuned 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo with 271bhp and 266lb ft of torque. It can sprint from 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds and go on to 158mph, and is considerably cheaper than rivals such as the Ford Focus RS and Honda Civic Type R. The base model is the 275 Cup-S, with fewer luxuries and more focused mechanicals, while the Nav 275 includes sat-nav among its upgrades.
At start-up, the Megane Renault Sport 275’s engine defaults to 247bhp for better economy and more docile everyday driving. Pressing the sport button unleashes the full 271bhp, under which the car accelerates fearsomely from 2000rpm and simply keeps on going. The throaty exhaust note can be enhanced by the Cup-S’s optional Akrapovič sports version, while a limited-slip diff is fitted as standard on that model and can be specced with the optional Cup Chassis Pack on the Nav. Its traction-boosting qualities help control front-wheel spin out of corners and give better straight-line stability.
Control weight is class leading, and gives a fun and intuitive drive thanks to a slick gearshift, strong, progressive brakes and precise steering that’s full of feedback. The equally sublime chassis set-up provides plenty of grip in fast bends along with well balanced, safe handling. While the firm ride is very well controlled and planted over uneven surfaces, it does fidget over small imperfections. The Volkswagen Golf R gives more compliance.
The Megane Renault Sport 275’s driving position gives away the model’s age, with limited steering-wheel reach extension and the pedals being closer than tall drivers would like. Both the standard sports seats and the heavily bolstered optional Recaros are supportive, however.
More recent competitors such as the Golf R beat the Renault Sport 275’s ergonomics and perceived quality feel. The Megane’s upper dash has soft-touch plastic, but the materials are hard and scratchy elsewhere. Flimsy switchgear and buttons tucked awkwardly behind the steering wheel don’t help.
There’s a standard FM radio with a small dash-top LCD screen in the Cup, and the Nav adds R-Link infotainment, with a larger seven-inch colour screen with shortcut buttons and a rotary controller. They feel fairly archaic and not particularly intuitive.
Front access, head and legroom are good, but the Renault Sport 275’s three-door-only design limits rear access. Space for back passengers is tight, with tall occuapnts finding their knees up against the seat in front and their skull brushing the headlining. The Golf R and Civic Type R offer more rear space.
Boot space is about class average, with a high load lip, but you can accommodate longer loads by dropping the 60/40-split seat backs. General stowage options incorporate a small glovebox and narrow door pockets.
The Megane Renault Sport 275 offers plenty of driving thrills for its price, which undercuts that of the competition. You’ll lose out come resale time, however, while kit levels are not great, with Bluetooth and cruise control but no DAB and manual air-con instead of climate control. The Nav adds R-Link, sat-nav, DAB, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors, reversing camera, plus auto headlights and wipers. Economy of 37.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 174g/km are comparable with those of rivals, but the lower list price results in lower BIK company car tax.
Servicing costs are among the cheapest in the class, and the four-year/100,000-mile warranty is one of the best. Reliability ratings are average, and security is sound with a maximum five-star Thatcham score for resisting theft.
We love the Megane Renault Sport 275’s performance and handling, which superbly mix power, poise and precision. Its pricing compares very well to its rivals’, too. However, we’re not so keen on its firm ride or cabin drawbacks including poor quality, an odd driving position and limited rear space. Hot hatches should be as much about practicality as they are driving, and the Renault Sport 275 doesn’t achieve this as successfully as some rivals, even if they do cost more money.