Expectations are high for any vehicle carrying the Renaultsport badge. Since the first Clio Renaultsport 172 in 1999, the brand's products have picked up dozens of awards and group test victories in automotive magazines.
The Megane 265, flagship of the Renaultsport fleet, is certainly no stranger to plaudits. Our drive in the car was frustratingly short, but even with limited seat time it's easy to see the car's appeal.
Oddly, styling is one of the 265's less successful attributes. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but it does look a little fussy from some angles.
There's no denying its purpose though, with meaty tyres and a squat stance. The moody grey paintwork enhanced this impression, which didn't diminish once inside the cabin, with two yellow-trimmed Recaro pews and yellow seat belts to grab your attention.
Inside it's pleasingly simple and a little less austere than some rivals. The sculpted steering wheel feels great in the palms and the grey tachometer - a dial you'll spend plenty of time keeping an eye on - is easy to read.
On the move, the 265 immediately feels right. The steering is meaty and the throttle and brake pedals responsive.
Up the pace and the RS comes alive. 250 horses are available initially, with another 15 at the press of the Sport Mode switch for the traction and stability control systems. Press for longer and it turns off entirely, but it's hyperactive even in Sport. Right foot to the floor, and you'll be grabbing gear after gear as the 265 lunges for the horizon. With the ideal launch, 62 mph can be reached in six seconds flat.
The gearshift feels like the weak link here, a little rubbery and obstinate, but a firm hand and a bit of commitment will see you race through the 'box quickly enough.
Traction and grip are astounding for a front-wheel drive car. Boot the throttle out of a tight corner and the limited slip differential hooks you up far quicker than you'd expect, with little torque steer.
There's real steering feel too, making you wonder just how other manufacturers get electric steering so wrong.
The ride on this Cup model is stiff, as you may expect, but never crashy. It's certainly nothing you couldn't live with, and the trade-off is one of the best hot hatch chassis around.
Price as tested: 25,245
Combined MPG: 34.4
CO2: 190 g/km