Topping the power race is the Megane which features a 2.0-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder engine, a top speed of 236 km/h and a 0?100 km/h sprint time of 6.5 seconds.
Body styling - from the Renault Sport design department - complements the power under the bonnet and the front end revised to incorporate a lower air intake grille that is broader and deeper and features round fog lights recessed into nacelles.
The exterior door handles are finished in satin chrome, while the triangular side repeater lenses are white in colour.
Sport driving requires a suspension to match and the Megane's lowered look with big 18-inch wheels on 225/40 low profile tyres gives the car a muscled stance, with the true 'sporting' giveaway the twin central exhausts protruding from the matt black grille of the rear diffuser.
Inside, the Megane Sport boasts a sporty three-spoke steering wheel, leather sports front seats, with pronounced bolsters for enhanced lateral support at both shoulder and hip level. The gearlever and shift gaiter are also leather covered, all offset by stitching in a choice of black or orange.
The steering column adjusts for reach and rake, while the sports seats are also multi-adjustable. The pedals and a large left-foot footrest are aluminium, with the close grouping of accelerator and brake enabling easy heel-and-toe operation.
Sporting, maybe, but the Sport comes standard with:
automatic climate control with pollen filter
rain sensitive automatic windscreen wipers and a smart rear wiper
auto-dipping rearview mirror
one-touch electrically operated windows front and rear
glove box with cooling facility
front under floor storage
front- and rear armrests with storage compartments
time delay courtesy lighting,
automatic double-optic headlights
cruise control with speed limiter
multi-function trip computer with warning system
The basic platform of the Sport is broadly similar to that of its siblings but front and rear tracks are widened, by 7 mm and 15 mm respectively. This enhances high-speed stability and grip.
Renault Sport's engineers have developed a new front suspension system with an independent steering axis that alleviates the torque steer and self-centring tendency common to powerful front-driven cars by separating the steering axis from the damper unit, in contrast to a standard MacPherson type arrangement.
Unique spring, damper and roll bar rates have been adopted, front and rear suspension travel has been reduced and the stiffness of the suspension isolating bushes has been increased by 22% compared to other Megane models. The 225/40 R 18 radials have been specially developed for the Megane Renault Sport by Continental.
The Bosch 8.0 Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with understeer control has had its operating threshold increased for the Megane Renault Sport.
The ASR traction control system can be switched off below 50 km/h, resetting itself automatically once this speed is reached or the ignition is switched off. A torque regulation on overrun feature (MSR) prevents the front wheels from locking if the accelerator is released suddenly or when decelerating on a low-grip surface.
Under the bonnet is a 16-valve turbo-charged four-cylinder engine displacing 1998 cm³. Dubbed F4Rt, it is a derivative of the unit first seen in the Vel Satis, developed jointly by Renault Sport Technologies and Renault's Powertrain Engineering Department.
Maximum power of 165 kW is delivered at 5 500 r/min, with peak torque of 300 Nm reached at 3 000 r/min but with flexibility thanks to a torque curve that is virtually linear all the way from 2 000 to 6 000 r/min. At least 90% of the maximum torque figure is available throughout this range.
The car's braking system consists of Brembo four-piston front callipers clamping 312 mm ventilated discs at the front, and single piston callipers and 300 mm solid discs at the rear.
Renault's third generation Safety Restraint & Protection System (SRP) is fitted, combining dual-volume adaptive front air bags for both front seat occupants with dual safety belt pretensioners and twin load limiters. A single pretensioner and anti-submarining (unique Renault innovation) air bag is standard in the three-door model.
In addition, the Megane Renault Sport is equipped with two thorax side air bags for the front seat occupants, and curtain air bags to protect the heads of both front- and rear seat occupants.
A 3 year/60 000 km maintenance plan is available on the Megane Renault Sport and the price of the Megane Renault Sport is R265 000 and including a High Performance Driving course.
The Clio thrill package is no less impressive with the model distinguished by a rear hatch spoiler and wider, deeper front and rear bumpers.
The former boasts integral fog lamps and air intakes for the uprated front brakes, and the latter incorporates twin Clio V6-style tailpipes.
The front wings, manufactured from composite material as on all Clios, are wider and more pronounced to encompass new eight-spoke 16-inch alloys fitted with 205/45 low profile radials.
The Clio Renault Sport is powered by a multivalve four-cylinder 16-valve engine. The 2.0-litre unit produces 131.5 kW at 6 500 r/min and 200 Nm of torque at 5 250 r/min.
The Clio Sport's suspension comprises MacPherson struts up front with a flexible H-form torsion beam rear axle linked to trailing arms. Spring and damper rates, as well as anti-roll bar stiffness are tailored specifically for this model.
The track has been increased by 20 mm at the front and 10 mm at the rear, enhancing the car's stance on the road and Electronic Stability Program (ESP) is fitted along with ABS and Renault's EBD electronic brake distribution system.
It can sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in a shade over 7 seconds, and reach a maximum speed of more than 220 km/h.
The dashboard is finished in dark grey and the seats and door panels in perforated Alcantara with a light grey underlayer.
Standard equipment includes a 160 Watt Cabasse in-dash CD/receiver with four speakers, climate control, height-adjustable driver's seat, cruise control with speed limiter, automatic xenon headlights with headlight washers, rain-sensitive windscreen wipers, tinted glass all round, sports ratio hydraulic power steering, remote central locking and power windows.
Also standard is the sport package that includes sport chassis with anthracite grey alloy wheels, an aerodynamic blade under the front bumper and a 'competition' rear spoiler
Twin front and side air bags are standard.
The price of the Clio Renault Sport is R209 990 and includes a High Performance Driving course.