Renault’s most powerful production car ever, the Megane R.S. 300 Trophy, has gone on sale ahead of customer deliveries in February.

Based on the current Megane R.S., which comes with a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 276 bhp, the 300 Trophy sees that same power unit tuned up to 296 bhp.

As a result, the sprint to 62 mph is cut from 5.8 to 5.7 seconds, while the top speed rises slightly from 158 to 162 mph.

But the engine isn’t just more powerful than its sibling. In order to comply with the latest emission regulations, Renault has fitted a particulate filter to the exhaust. This necessitated modifications to the turbocharger, which is now more responsive, and as the exhaust system, which uses technology honed in Formula 1.

2018 Renault Megane RS Trophy

Changes to the turbo and exhaust have helped to bring about the extra power, but Renault has also used the exhaust silencer to add to the car’s aural appeal. A valve has been fitted, allowing the driver to choose whether the exhaust should be quiet or loud.

When the valve is closed, Renault says it is sporty, but “easy on the ears for everyday use”. But when the valve is opened, the French company says “the engine's full potential can then be expressed, in terms of both performance and noise”.

2018 Renault Megane RS Trophy

Externally, the newcomer is differentiated by its 19-inch lightweight alloy wheels and the Trophy graphics on the front spoiler, while the cabin can be fitted with optional Recaro sports seats wrapped in Alcantara.

The biggest differences, however, run more than skin deep. Quite apart from the upgraded engine, the R.S. 300 Trophy gets Renault Sport’s Cup Chassis as standard. That means a Torsen limited-slip differential sits on the front axle, improving traction, while the shock absorbers are 25 percent firmer than on the basic R.S. with the Sport Chassis.

2018 Renault Megane RS Trophy

The springs are a little tighter, too, and the anti-roll bars have been stiffened to improve body control through corners.

Other features of the Cup Chassis, which is a £1,500 option on the ‘standard’ 276 bhp Megane R.S., include red-painted Brembo brake callipers.

2018 Renault Megane RS Trophy

The standard car’s four-wheel steering system remains in situ, though, using clever electronics to turn the rear wheels slightly in order to offer extra stability or a smaller turning circle, depending on the conditions.

The Trophy's extra performance comes at a premium, however. Where the normal R.S. comes in at just under £27,500, the Trophy version starts at £31,810. And if you want the optional six-speed automatic transmission, that figure shoots up to £33,510.

Gallery: 2018 Renault Megane RS Trophy