Thursday 25th October 2012


Maybe it's the autumnal weather but there's another Q-ship hot hatch in the classifieds that's taken our fancy...

Cars like the Megane R26.R are a test. Like the stickers on a 911 GT3 RS. If your gut reaction is 'bluergh, tacky!' you've failed at the first hurdle. Move along and buy your Turbo.

The R puts several of them in your way. Stickered up there's the same tackiness test. But without it looks little different from the DCi diesel Renaultsport Megane. A good car, but not really the message buyers of plastic windowed, stripped'n'caged track monsters want to be giving off. So, stickered it looks tacky and without it looks too anonymous.

Destickered and silver-grey it's the stealth R
Destickered and silver-grey it's the stealth R
OK, still want in? Those jokers from Dieppe have barely got started yet. Can you really live without a stereo? If you can you then face the reality of the one saving grace of a car like this - the rear seats, boot space and daily practicality that let you justify it as a do-it-all car - being ripped out and replaced with scaffolding poles and harnesses.

It must be redeemed by a dizzying power output? Nope. Same as the regular car. Less than many rivals. This is a car for those who can appreciate handling over outright power without feeling their manhood being threatened. Who value a 123kg weight saving over 100 extra horsepower.

So it's cheap, right? No. Two or three times the price of its nearly as able R26 basis. Yes, the one with an interior. Seats. A stereo. Stuff like that.

Cage option not ticked - which is a shame
Cage option not ticked - which is a shame
Basically the R26.R tests how strongly you get it. And if you really, truly do then you're in for one of the great automotive treats. Your correspondent has had the pleasure on a number of occasions and all have been memorable. The first, running late for a grouptest in the Yorkshire moors in probably the first car in the UK and on French trade plates (you can probably fill in the blanks of that one...) was manic, epic and a bit silly. Another involved a weekend comprising 12 increasingly ludicrous laps of the 'ring on Saturday, 70-odd of Spa on the Sunday (where it became known as 'that Renault') and a very nervous drive home with no brake pads and 888s down to the canvas.

Renault had aspirations for the R to become a collectable hot hatch classic and was going to import 230 of the 450 built to the UK - nearly 10 times the allocation for Germany. But sales were sluggish and HowManyLeft reckons just 75 are still registered and on the road.

Another one in the classifieds has all the bits
Another one in the classifieds has all the bits
That more of the ads in the PH classifieds are 'wanteds' rather than 'for sale' indicates demand has picked up, especially for those with the desirable titanium exhaust and roll cage/888s options (£2,250 and £700 respectively new).

This one has neither but it's the cheapest currently in our classifieds at £14,500 and has only 21,000 miles on it. The destickered Nimbus Grey paint over black wheels is super stealthy too and completely at odds with the Sabelt carbon racing seats and harnesses within (the R apparently the first road car ever to be homologated with such) so if you really, really have nothing to prove it's the car for you. A call to Renault reveals you could, if you really wanted, get the cage and ti exhaust factory retrofitted but at circa 5,000 euros and 2,000 euros (plus VAT) respectively that'd be taking a fair punt on values climbing significantly and, in all honesty, if you really need them there's a more in your face stickered and caged one for only a little more here. If you're going to use it as intended and really want a cage better to stick two fingers up at originality and go aftermarket. If you want one to collect and covet ... well ... you're probably missing the point.

One more thing. The R was the swansong for the outgoing Renaultsport Megane. The previous Clio was given a send off in the shape of the sublime Trophy version. With the current 200 on the verge of being replaced what's in store to bid that a suitable farewell? We await with interest...

1,998cc 4-cyl turbo
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Power (hp): 230@5,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 229@3,000rpm
MPG: 33.2mpg (NEDC combined)
CO2: 199g/km
First registered: 2009
Recorded mileage: 21,000
Price new: £23,815
Yours for: £14,500

See the original advert here.

Author: Dan Trent
Want more PH news like this daily - then signup for the PH newsletter here!