Both Autocar (weekly) and its sister Haymarket magazine CAR (monthly) thought it would be a good idea to pitch the Mégane against VW’s Golf GTI and Honda’s new Civic Type-R.
The truth is there was little to choose between them with each car enjoying advantages over its rivals – these ranging from looks, feel, balance, handling, engine torque, sound and so on.
In his verdict, however, Autocar’s Matt Prior writes: “This is a hot hatchback test and hot hatchbacks – especially these three very hottest ones – are meant to be judged on their ability to entertain. So the Mégane 275 Trophy gets the nod (instead). It has all the adjustability and entertainment of the Golf, only with added purpose and agility.”
Indeed it is clear the Mégane is the ‘wild child’ out of the three – something that is always going to win over hot hatch fans new and old.
After two days spent driving the three cars on roads through Wales’s Black Mountains, CAR’s Steve Moody tells it like it is. “While the Golf can’t get close to the Civic in a straight or curved line, the Megane is hot on its tail. It is a far more extreme machine than the other two, requiring some careful husbandry when the brakes and tyres are cold, and full-on concentration when it’s hot. The gear ratios are much shorter – third is done and dusted nearly 10mpohlower in the early seventies – which means that acceleration is more manic…”
“And that’s the thing with the Mégane,” he later adds. “It’s a brilliant, hairy, lairy thing when driven flat out, and as much fun as the Civic. Both have front suspension tricks which decouple the steering inputs from the damping, alongside the diffs, and they very successfully negate torque steer for the most part, even with such bonkers power levels trying to escape through the front wheels.
“The Renault has more communicative steering than the Civic, too. Which is very quick and consistent but lacking the nibbly chat of the Mégane. But it’s all or nothing in the Trophy-R: slow-moving industrial machinery or fast-moving thing of great joy.”