Renault’s reputation for producing fine hot hatchbacks is well documented, but even by the company’s usual standards, 2005 is turning out to be a vintage year, with the ‘Cup’ version of the Mégane Renaultsport 225 the latest model to join the fold.

In the last three months alone, Renaultsport has launched two limited edition ‘Trophy’ models, namely the final incarnation of the current Clio – the Renaultsport 182 Trophy, and the Mégane Renaultsport 225 Trophy, the latter launching the new Cup Chassis pack.

The standard Mégane Renaultsport 225 launched in 2004 has received widespread acclaim for its combination of searing performance with refinement and the Cup Chassis pack was showcased as part of the specification of the Trophy, aimed at drivers willing to trade some ride comfort for a more focused driving experience and pin sharp handling amongst other things.

Whilst the 225 Trophy had some unique interior and exterior features, the new Cup version takes only the mechanical changes from the Trophy and incorporates them into the Cup Chassis pack and a new version, the 225 Cup on sale now at £18,600, which is £1,400 less than the regular three-door 225 Sport Hatch fitted with the optional Cup pack.

The Cup option pack is offered on the Mégane’s little brother, the Clio Renaultsport 182, with over 50% of customers choosing it. In addition, for those prepared to do away with a few of the luxury features and in return save both weight and money, the pack is fitted as standard to the Clio Renaultsport 182 Cup and this version accounts for half of all Clio 182 sales. Therefore, in total over 75% of all Clio Renaultsport 2-litre are fitted with the Cup Chassis pack.

This range idea is now carried over onto Mégane Renaultsport, with the new Sport Hatch only 225 Cup at £18,600, and the standard versions of the 225 costing £19,500 for the three-door Sport Hatch and £20,000 for the five-door Hatch without the optional Cup Chassis pack for an extra £500.

The new Cup version offers the best Mégane driving experience yet, by benefiting from the Cup hallmark of removing certain items of equipment to reduce weight and cost giving even greater performance, allied to the brake, chassis and steering improvements that come as part of the Cup Chassis pack.

The Mégane Renaultsport 225 is arguably the most comprehensively equipped car in its class including air-conditioning, 18-inch alloy wheels and part leather seat upholstery, so even after removing several bits of kit, owners will not exactly be lacking in luxury. On this occasion, the Cup reduction programme sees the loss of the six CD multi-changer for a single disc, hands-free Renault Card for ignition and locking, tyre pressure monitor, no leather trim on the doors and central armrest (but still on the outer edges of the seats), metallic paint or carpet mats.

The upside is that the price comes down by £900 and the 225 Cup includes the Cup pack that costs £500 on the 225 making the 225 Cup £1,400 less. There are however no options available on the 225 Cup other than metallic paint if you don’t like the standard Capsicum red, so if you want to load up your 225 with luxuries like heated leather seats, climate control or a sunroof, then the Cup is not for you.

Combined with the unique, 1.5kg lighter anthracite colour alloy wheels, retained from the Trophy, you can see how the car has achieved a total weight saving of 10kg, giving the car a 0-62mph time of 6.3 seconds, 0.2 seconds faster than the standard car and a top speed of 147mph.

The Cup Chassis pack has all of the various engineering changes made to the Mégane Trophy including: 18″ anthracite alloy wheels, Dunlop Sport Maxx 235/40 R18 (ilo 225/40 R18), drilled front and rear brake discs, Brembo brake discs and callipers, bigger brake master cylinder with Brake Assist removed, revised steering connection and electronic programming, retuned dampers with uprated front and rear springs (25% and 77% stiffer) and dis-connectable ESP.

The new Mégane Renaultsport 225 Cup enhances the driving pleasure of the current car with its specially tuned chassis, steering and braking set-up and together with the new availability of the Cup pack option on the 225, is expected to establish the Mégane Renaultsport 225 as the leader of the hot hatch pack along with its Clio stablemate.