The Renault Mégane R.S. has built up its own loyal following of fans who like their hot hatchbacks the Renault Sport way. With the arrival of the new generation of the Renault Mégane in 2016, we always knew that the full fat, high performance Mégane R.S. was on the horizon. 2017 saw the launch of the 205hp Renault Mégane GT in Ireland to whet the appetite.
But now the halo car of the Mégane range has arrived. Recently Renault Ireland provided me with the Renault Mégane 280 EDC for review. This was my first time to experience Renault Sport engineering so I was duly excited. Even more so when I saw the loud and proud Renault Mégane R.S. in blazing Volcanic Orange. The winter sunshine on my Mégane R.S. photoshoot early in the week gave way to more dull and damp November conditions. Yet I was soon to find out that nothing could dull the spirit of the Renault Mégane R.S. 280 EDC.
The recipe for a French hot hatchback is relatively simple of course – put a high octane engine in a hatchback, tune the car and pad it out with a body kit. But reading about the Mégane R.S. cannot prepare you for the raw energy of getting behind the wheel and feeling the R.S. flex its athleticism beneath you. And then unleash the power…
Power and control in the Renault Mégane R.S.
This time the power driven to the front wheels comes from a new 1.8-litre turbo petrol engine putting out 280hp and 390Nm of torque. 0 to 100 kmh is 5.8 seconds, going on to a top speed of 255 km/h. There is a wider front and rear track with bespoke front and rear wings, a rear spoiler to improve aerodynamic performance, rear bumper with diffuser and central exhaust, and Brembo® brake callipers for stopping power.
The new Mégane R.S. is available with a manual gearbox or an EDC 6-speed automatic gearbox. It goes on sale in Ireland from €41,995, with the EDC version on test available from €44,995. There’s the option of a Sport or Cup chassis, with the Cup version being the super stiff one, ideal for frequent track users.
One of the unique features of the Mégane R.S. among hot hatchbacks of this class is the ‘4CONTROL’ four-wheel steering system. At high speeds, the front and rear wheels turn in the same direction for extra stability. At low speeds, the front and rear wheels turn in opposite directions for more agility.
On the road in the Renault Mégane R.S.
The Mégane R.S. is naturally quick and exciting to drive. It gets more explosive the harder you drive it and the more you fiddle with the settings. To spice things up there is a Sport mode, a Race mode and a personalised setting (‘Perso’) where you can set the car up until it’s just right for you by altering things like the urgency of the throttle response, suspension stiffness, ESP activation threshold and exhaust note.
And then you begin to approach a corner. Ah now this is where we see the prowess and sheer brilliance of the Renault Mégane R.S. There is nothing left to do other than drive into the corner with intent for this is where you awaken the magic of the Mégane R.S. This car can sniff out cornering lines like no other and stick to them. The steering is not the most tactile unit but it’s heavy and direct and gives you absolute confidence to steer into the corner, plant your foot on the throttle and follow the curve.
The engine provides a backing track of powerful grunts and cheeky burbles that add to the cool experience of the Renault Mégane R.S. For me the engine was a real highlight of the car – sweet and strong – though I would prefer the manual gearbox for a more tactile extraction of power. The four wheel steering I’m sure contributes to the car’s handling brilliance, but there were a few times when I felt that it interfered a little too.
In terms of running costs motor tax for this model is €750 per year and my fuel consumption was 9.4l/100 kms over a week of driving. I may have been having too much fun ahem.
Can I use it every day?
There is a firm edge to the suspension but it’s still remarkably comfortable for a performance hatchback. In terms of practicality the Renault Mégane R.S. is now a five door hatchback with space for five (though two will probably be most comfortable in the rear) and a good 384 litre boot. I was impressed with the sophisticated cabin ambience imparted by ambient lighting and the beautiful Alcantara trimmed steering wheel (€350) and sports seats (€1500). The material quality is a mixed bag and I do find the portrait style touchscreen a bit fiddly to use on the move. But overall I really enjoyed being in the cabin of the Mégane R.S.
Standard equipment includes grey ‘Estoril’ 18” alloy wheels (19” ‘Interlagos’ fitted to test car for €350), rear parking sensors, Multi-Sense driving modes, seven-inch touchscreen with European mapping, dual-zone climate control, cruise control and handsfree keycard with automatic locking.
So what’s the verdict?
Over a week of driving the new Renault Mégane R.S. really endeared itself to me. I have a few niggles with the car but my overarching opinion is that this is a passionate high performer that just gets better the harder you push it. The Renault Mégane R.S. is laugh out loud good and moments of pure wicked power and handling talent prove its raison d’être!
Would you like to watch a video review of the new Renault Mégane R.S.?
Model tested: Renault Megane R.S. 280 EDC
Price: From €44,995 (Range from €41,995)
Engine: 1.8-litre turbo petrol
Power: 280 hp
Torque: 390 Nm
0-100km/h: 5.8 seconds
Top speed: 255 km/h
Economy: 40.9 mpg
CO2 emissions: 155 g/km
Motor tax: €750 per year