The crown of the best performance hatchback goes back and forth between Europe and Japan, with South Korea now not far behind thanks to the good work of Hyundai’s N division. Special Volkswagen Golf Clubsports fight against lightened Honda Civic Type Rs and Renault’s most hardcore Mégane RS Trophys to see who makes the road car closest in performance to a TCR touring car. While most cleverly turbocharged hatchbacks pair all-wheel drive with outputs over 300 horsepower, the latest breed of the lighter front-drive variants still pack a punch, showing very little understeer thanks to the latest in suspension and axle technologies.
The pair of Tiff Needell and Paul Woodman at Lovecars really got the cream of the crop for their latest showdown, which was ultimately settled by lap times set by Hollywood stuntman and the most famous of all former Stigs, Ben Collins, the man who just won’t do a rolling start.
While the third-generation of the Mini John Cooper Works GP is only available in grey with red accents and an eight-speed automatic, the R version of the Renault’s Megane RS Trophy is only available in white with red accents and a six-speed manual gearbox. With 306 horsepower, the Mini is a hair more powerful and lighter than the Renault. Mini’s track special is limited to 3000 units, while Renault will only produce 500 Mégane RS Trophy Rs, just 32 of which are allocated for the U.K.
What’s the point of producing hatchbacks that only feel at home on the track? For Renault, it comes down to keeping the RS brand alive and well. The company is committed to its Formula 1 program, the Mégane RS Trophy R is the reigning king of the Nürburgring, and as such a special, it can even be ordered with carbon fiber wheels and carbon-ceramic brakes, while its highly sophisticated Öhlins dampers take care of every curb you hit.
The more cartoonish, yet just as entertaining and considerably cheaper Mini John Cooper Works GP is a very user-friendly proposition compared to the Renault, regardless of what the internet will tell you. However, with its less eager automatic and questionable aero package, it can not match the speed of the fully tricked-out Mégane, which is an engineering exercise we won’t see often on the road.
As for Mr. Ben Collins, wet conditions or not, he will still set a consistent lap time that will put an end to the debate between Tiff, the handbrake enthusiast, and Paul, a friend of Oxford.
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