Remember when Renault Sports dominated in the world of hot hatches? Course you do, Game of Thrones was only just getting started. Dieppe set its 21st century stall out with the Clio 172, and then held sway for almost two decades when it came to cheap, quick and properly serious front-drive machinery. Then the RS Clio 200 Turbo launched, and it was like Season 7 - worthy, but dismal. Now it seems like the Megane is having trouble where a more celebrated predecessor left off.
Because while the current four-wheel-steering model is undoubtedly effective in its own right - and there's no denying its sophisticated chassis hardware makes it an interesting proposition in the segment - is it the most fun to drive? Many, including PH, rate the Civic Type R more highly. Renault Sport has already responded, of course, by pushing the Trophy version to market more speedily, and with largely positive results. But still, it's not set the segment alight; where the old car would enter any hot hatch group test and turn it into the Red Wedding, today's model sits among the crowd.
Perhaps it'll be third time lucky for Dieppe, though, because the Trophy-R has been spotted testing at the Nurburgring on numerous occasions, pointing to a fast-approaching launch for the track-focussed 300hp model. Benefitting from Renault Sport's tried and tested box of tricks, including the lighter weight, track-honed suspension and stickier rubber, to name a few, it ought to be the hot hatch we've been hankering for from the start. Alternatively, it might confirm that Honda's lead in the segment is now too great to catch. Guess which version of Jon Snow we're rooting for.
At least we've the 2014 Trophy-R to remind us what the old Gods are capable of. The 275hp car shed a substantial 100kg thanks to the pairing-back of interior gubbings and the ditching of rear bench, while Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 boots drastically enhanced mechanical grip - and enabled the composite Allevard front coil springs to sharpen up the nose substantially. Add an Akrapovic exhaust, harnesses to the buckets and, in some cases, the optional 350mm Brembo brake upgrade, and you had yourself the 911 GT3 of hot hatchdom. It's mad to think that Renault struggled to sell the full allocation of 30 UK cars but, then again, spending almost £40k on a French hatchback was never going to be an easy goblet of mead to swallow.
Depreciation did inevitably set in, but now prices have begun to creep back up again, with some low mileage cars edging to within £10k of the original asking price. Today's Spotted, for example, is up for £27k with 13,000 miles on the clock. It's on sale at Renault Sport specialist K-Tec, has remained in completely standard condition and is only a lightweight battery away from being in former Nurburgring front-wheel drive lap record specification. Whether Dieppe returns the current Megane Trophy to its former glory with the R will become clear soon enough. It says much that beating out the current Civic Type R to the hot hatch throne will only represent half a job. Building on the reputation of its venerated predecessor will be the real challenge.
SPECIFICATION - RENAULT MEGANE RS TROPHY-R
Engine: 4 cyls, 1998cc, turbocharged petrol
Transmission: 6-spd manual, front-wheel drive
Power: 275hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 265lb ft at 3,000-5,000rpm
First registered: 2015
Recorded mileage: 13,000
Price new: £36,430
Yours for: £26,995