New Renault Megane RS packs blistering performance, sharp handling and sexy styling
What is it?
The go-fast RS version of the all-new Renault Megane RS. The Renault Megane RS goes head to head with a number of hot hatchbacks from across the globe including the new Honda Civic Type R, the Ford Focus RS, the Hyundai i30 N and Volkswagen Golf R.
The all-new Megane RS boasts a number of firsts for the Megane RS nameplate: namely it’s the first Megane RS with four-wheel steering and the first fast Megane that offers the option of a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
What’s it cost?
The Renault Megane RS is priced from a reasonable $44,990 plus on roads for the manual and $47,490 plus on roads for the automatic. Standard equipment is a plenty and includes: Renault Sport bodykit with bespoke design elements across the exterior and exterior of the car, a bimodal exhaust, multi-mode driving settings, that 4CONTROL four-wheel steering system, Brembo brakes, LED headlights, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking. Our test car was also fitted with the following optional equipment: Bose stereo ($500), Alcantara upholstery ($1,190) and that metallic Liquid Yellow paint ($880).
What’s it go like?
Generally speaking, the Megane RS is fairly damn rapid. Power comes for a 1.8 litre turbocharged engine that produces 205kW @ 6000rpm and 390Nm @ 2400rpm. In our test car, that engine was mated to the dual-clutch transmission, which sends power to the front wheels.
The Megane RS’ multi-mode driving settings equip it with a number of distinct personalities. There’s Comfort Mode, Neutral Mode, Sport Mode, Perso Mode and of course, Race Mode.
Perso Mode allows drivers to create a driving mode that suites their own needs and taste.
Sport sharpens things up and ideal if you want to go for a spirited drive along your favourite ribbon of tarmac. Comfort Mode is just that, comfortable. It softens the steering, throttle response and exhaust clout for when you just want to just sit back and relax and enjoy your commute.
In our test car, Perso was our driving mode of choice it was set to behave in a similar manner to Race Mode – everything set on maximum attack – but it kept all the electronic nannies on, making it ideal for everyday driving a daily basis. The compromise was ideal largely because our Perso Mode seemed to be eke the best from the Megane RS, but it was also practical and comfortable enough to drive just about anywhere.
Acceleration from that turbo four pot is strong throughout the rev range and the engine always feels energetic. That dual-clutch flicks through the gears quickly in automatic mode – you can use steering column-mounted paddles to swap cogs if you wish – and the steering is on the weighty side, but is swift and communicative. The ride too is firm, but it’s never uncomfortable or harsh.
During our test week we put the Megane RS through its paces on the Black Spur, a twisty and challenging driver’s paradise of a road around 90 minutes from Melbourne’s city centre. The perfect place to test a hot hatch. The Megane RS delivered. The engine was more than torquey enough to flatten inclines and string bends together and that dual-clutch transmission kept things stirring nicely. Then there was the grip. The Megane felt planted at all times and despite that power, traction was always kept in check and the brakes were sharp, and didn’t show any sides of fade.
The Megane passed the Black Spur test with flying colours.
What’s it like inside?
A typical hot hatch really. Lots of grey and carbon fibre trim, with the odd smattering of “Renault Sport” nomenclature. The front sports seats do an excellent job of holding your butt in place, especially when the car is devouring corners. They also managed to be rather comfortable, as we managed to do a number of extended journeys and always exited the car feeling refreshed.
It is worth noting, though, that the bolsters are quite high, and some passengers found egress a little challenging.
Once you’ve slipped behind the wheel you’re greeted by a large digital instrument cluster, which changes according to the drive mode selected, with various pieces of information prioritised in relation to the drive mode chosen.
The large infotainment screen is large and easy to use and the satellite navigation system was particularly impressive, quickly calculating the fastest routes to avoid congested traffic. Oh, and you’re best to stump up the extra cash for that Bose stereo. It’s epic and possibly one of the most powerful in car sound systems we’ve tested.
The general interior design – as per most of the current crop of Renault models – is fairly clean and simple. But, there are a few French eccentricities. For instance, the buttons to activate the cruise control and speed limiter are located next to the park brake on the centre console. Then, there’s the infotainment system controls that are traditionally found on the steering wheel. They’re mounted on a paddle that’s fixed to the steering column. It’s unusual at first, but fine with some familiarisation.
Climb into the back, and rear pew is soft and comfortable, but best suited to two people. Legroom is at a premium, thanks to those big front seats.
General build quality and fit and finish is rather good, with lots of premium soft-touch materials.
What we like:
- Handling and comfort
- Relative value
What we don’t:
- Comfort Mode transforms the Megane RS from a raging hot hatch to a comfortable cruiser. But, the we found the throttle response on take-off in this mode a little slow
- Satellite navigation generally very good, but could become confused on occasion
- Tight rear quarters
- Optional equipment should be standard
Fast, fun and multi-talented, the Renault Megane RS is a sophisticated and riotous hot hatch. Worth heading to your local Renault dealer.