Renault, a brand that was once known for its commercial vehicles like the Kangoo has been making significant strides in Malaysia. Over the past two years or so TC Euro, the distributor of everything Renault in Malaysia, has introduced a number of worthy cars like the Clio 1.6, Espace, Koleos, and the Laguna Coupe. But that's for ordinary people, leading ordinary lives and want ordinary cars.
What most people don't know is that besides building great everyday cars, Renault is also the builder of all great hot hatches and is widely regarded as the best at it. Riding on this fact, TC Euro introduced the previous versions of the Renault Megane R26 and the high strung Clio RS 197 and both models were received with much fan fare and generated a lot of interest for Renault hot hatches in this country.
If you look back at the history of the French car builder, some of the best hot hatches of all time carry the diamond emblem of Renault. Remember the Renault 5 Turbo, Clio Williams and the legendary mid-engined V6? It really doesn't get better than any of these when it comes to the high octane world of the hot hatch.
So with TC Euro on a roll and posting impressive sales figures, the company now introduces another hot hatch and one that is surely to make the competition look like they're catering to the aunties, and grandma's rather than pure red-blooded enthusiast, a hatch that we drove today, the Megane Renault Sport 250 Cup.
Successor to the Megane R26 and the legendary fastest front-wheel-drive-car around the Nurburgring (it still is), the Megane R26R, the new 250 Cup is faster, smarter, cheaper, and to some extent prettier than its predecessor.
The Megane 250 Cup couples real world practicality with devilish capability on track. The car has a true enthusiasts dream list of performance parts like the Cup chassis (uprated springs, dampers, and anti-roll bar), Limited Slip Differential, G-Force meter, pre-set pedal maps, driver and passenger Recaro seats and massive 340mm vented and slotted Brembo disc brakes.
This wish-list of equipment coupled with a 2-liter twin-scroll turbocharged engine that churns out a stonking 250hp at 5500rpm and 340Nm of torque available at just 3000rpm, creates a car that wipes out the 100km/h mark in just 6.1 seconds and does not stop humping your senses until you reach its 245km/h top speed. All the while cocooning you in a sensory chamber that is comfortable, spacious and most importantly, safe. Besides the 6 air bags inside, the 250 Cup also achieved a full 37 out of 37 points when tested by Euro NCAP and gave it a 5-star Safety Rating.
In addition to that, the 250 Cup also features real world practicality like a spacious booth, keyless drive with hands free access, integrated Bluetooth, automatic headlamps and wipers, dual zone air-conditioning, bi-xenon headlights, seatbelt warning lights for all five seats, tyre pressure monitoring system, cruise control with speed limiter, ESP with understeer control, and emergency brake assist. The list goes on and on, long enough to convince you to buy it but then I would have to end my article here which can't happen because I have more to say.
I got the chance to take it for a spin around the North track of the Sepang International Circuit this morning and it was absolutely perfect; composed with very little body roll, incredible amounts of grip and most importantly, it was incredibly quick. I have not came across a front-wheel-drive car that gives you the confidence to get on the pedal before the apex and lets you stay flat on the throttle through the sweeping leftie that is Turn 5, there's usually some amount of lift off before entering a corner but not with the 250 Cup.
Don't take my word for it, TC Euro were so confident that they got ex-Singaporean A1GP race driver Dennis Lian to set a lap time in the car and he managed an incredibly quick 2:43 in a showroom car with road tires. The man said he even managed to pull 1.2G's in the car, on road tires! That stands testament to the incredible amounts of grip that the car generates.
At RM229,800, there is no other car that is able to tear up a circuit yet be able to offer such practical virtues as everyday usability. The Megane 250 Cup comes with a 3 year warranty and a GT Option pack that includes a moon roof and leather seats (an option you best left unchecked). I'll leave my comments to when I actually get to drive it for a couple of days, but for now, I'm sold.
Regular disc on the left, disc from the R26 on the right, guess which is from the 250 CUP?
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