June 20th, 2011


We’ve been getting a bit sick of being sent emails that have ‘Nürburgring’ and ‘record’ in the subject heading as they seem to enter our inbox daily. When we received a press release stating that Renault had broken the front-wheel drive Nürburgring lap record in the new Renault Megane 265 Trophy we nearly dismissed it. Then we looked again at the lap time of 8 minutes 7.97 seconds and scratched our heads. Then we looked at the on-board footage and were left with looks on our faces of pure “Woooah!” and “Whaaattt?!” Take a look at the video below and see for yourself.

The Renault Megane 265 Trophy rides on the same chassis as the standard 250 Cup, but gets an extra 15bhp and 15lb ft of torque and new Bridgestone Potenza RE05a tyres.The extra power comes from small engine mods, including a rise in turbo boost pressure from 2.0 to 2.5 bar, and a revised intake. That is it. No major renovations, no drivetrain or engine swaps or trick gearboxes.

So how the hell did it manage to munch nine seconds out of the previous front-wheel-drive record set by the last-generation RenaultSport Megane R26.R? The R26.R was a stripped out racer with bin bags for rear windows and scaffolding in the back seats whereas the 265 is a normal road car. We have put it down to three things; Renault really upping their game in the RenaultSport department over the last five years, the new Bridgestone Potenza RE05a tyres the car was running and Renault test driver Laurent Hurgon having cabbage-sized cojones.

Watch the video again. The pace that is carried in and out of corners is incredible. With more than plenty of understeer to fight off it is a showcase of bowel-loosening skill. Laurent said that in corners such as the ‘Karusell’ and ‘Pflanzgarten’, which are hugely demanding on both the car and driver, the Trophy’s limited-slip differential allowed him to accelerate hard out of the turns without minimal understeer.

But what really brought home how quick Laurent managed to get the Megane round the ‘Ring is when you compare it to other cars. The much talked about BMW 1 Series M Coupe also got its ‘Ring time this week and the Megane beat it by nearly 10 seconds. This little Megane is nearly on the same timing sheet as an E92 M3, which is held as the benchmark in all-round performance. But do you want to know the best bit? The Megane Renaultsport 265 Trophy will go on sale from £27,820. That is a hell of a lot cheaper than the 1M or an M3. So it’s a shame that only 50 examples of the Trophy will be made. But if you have ever doubted the performance of a RenaultSport car, stop doubting and start believing. They are quick, really quick.

Words: Rowan Horncastle