The new Renault Mégane R.S. is now on sale in Ireland

2018 Renault Mégane R.S. 280 EDC Review

The new Renault Mégane R.S. is now on sale in Ireland
The new Renault Mégane R.S. is now on sale in Ireland

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…

The new Renault Mégane R.S. loud and proud in signature Volcanic Orange
The new Renault Mégane R.S. is loud and proud in signature Volcanic Orange

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.

The interior of the new Renault Mégane R.S.
The interior of the new Renault Mégane R.S.

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.

The 2018 Renault Mégane R.S. has a new 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine putting out 280hp
The 2018 Renault Mégane R.S. has a new 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine putting out 280hp

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.

The Alcantara sports seats add to the sophisticated cabin ambience of the Renault Mégane R.S.
The Alcantara sports seats add to the sophisticated cabin ambience of the Renault 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!

Caroline Kidd

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

The Renault Mégane R.S. is wickedly fast and fun!
The Renault Mégane R.S. is wickedly fast and fun!

The new Hyundai i30 N Performance has arrived in Ireland

Hyundai i30 N Performance Review

The new Hyundai i30 N Performance has arrived in Ireland
The new Hyundai i30 N Performance has arrived in Ireland

Caroline reviews the Hyundai i30 N Performance.

The Hyundai i30 N is Hyundai’s new high performance hot hatchback and it's a strong sign of the Korean brand's ambition. Not content with just being a maker of normal hatchbacks and SUVs, Hyundai's N division was set up to create sporty models for the brand.

So enter the Hyundai i30 N, the first N model to reach these shores and the brand's first ever hot hatchback.

Inspired by Hyundai Motorsport's adventures on the rally stages of the world and honed on the Nürburgring, the new Hyundai i30 N makes a ferocious entrance.

Well, the 'baby blue' finish on the test car - it's actually called Performance Blue - might not look all that ferocious but there are enough bits added to give the i30 N a meaty makeover. And that's before you even start the thing up. Because believe me the noise that comes out of that exhaust is far from meek!

To mark it out as a more potent version of the i30, the Hyundai i30 N has 19" alloy wheels, an orange lip spoiler, black side skirts, black roof spoiler, and a rear diffuser with two mighty exhaust pipes peeping out.

The new Hyundai i30 N Performance has arrived in Ireland
The new Hyundai i30 N Performance has 275hp and a lot of attitude!

So what's under the bonnet?

The Hyundai i30 N is a front wheel drive hot hatchback and in its entry guise it has 250hp from a four cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. But Hyundai Ireland is selling the full fat i30 N Performance with 275hp with a list price of €39,995. Yay!

There's 353 Nm of torque with up to 378 Nm available on overboost. That brings the i30 N to 100 kmh from 0 in 6.1 seconds and on to a top speed of 250 km/h, and there's some delicious power exploitation to be had through the i30 N's 6-speed manual gearbox.

But the performance figures only tell half the story.

You start the i30 N and I swear it idles like a rally car. It has one of the best idle notes I've heard from a hot hatchback in a long time. Then before you move - if you can wait that long - there's a chance to fiddle around with some of the different driving modes: Normal, Sport, Eco, N and Custom. My favourite was Custom because I could set the car up to my preferred settings. I loved the detail. I could change everything from the engine throttle response and suspension stiffness to the stability control, rev-matching intensity, steering weight, electronic slip differential and even the exhaust sound!

The interior of the Hyundai i30 N Performance
The interior of the Hyundai i30 N Performance

What's the Hyundai i30 N Performance like to drive?

So then you get going in the Hyundai i30 N Performance and soon you will discover that this is a very good and very addictive hot hatchback. There's drama to the i30 N that is reminiscent of the Ford Focus RS. Pops and bangs on the overun will keep the fun coming while the handling is super tight and controlled through corners. You can pull the i30 N into the corner and commit to the throttle with absolute grip and stability. It's really impressive.

The steering is very heavy even in its 'lightest' setting and it's not huge on feedback either. But it is direct and precise so it does't really distract from what is a very exciting and addictive driving experience!

The ride comfort varies in that it is naturally on the firm side but still very much manageable for day to day driving. There is a customised N mode, where it gets very stiff so that's probably best left for the track.

My fuel consumption over a week of driving was 7.5l/100km.

Is the i30 N a hot but practical hatchback?

In terms of the cabin space and feel, it's pretty much identical to the standard i30, except for some N badging, a sports steering wheel with two large blue buttons to switch performance settings, and lovely bolstered sports seats. There is seating for five like any hatchback of this size though the i30 wouldn't be the most spacious of its ilk in the rear seating; but the boot is a good size at 381 litres.

The Hyundai i30 N is a triumph for Hyundai
The Hyundai i30 N is a triumph for Hyundai

In terms of spec, you get all the accoutrements of the N designation including the body kit, 19" alloys, Pirelli tyres, and sports seats, as well as LED headlamps, dual zone air con, 8" touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, cruise control, rear parking camera, keyless entry, autonomous emergency braking and lane keeping assist.

The Hyundai i30 N Performance really surprised me for its commitment to the hot hatchback genre; after driving it I can say that it really can compete with the best of them. It doesn't feel that Hyundai tried to create an imitation of a Golf GTI - the i30 N has its own personality very much inspired by Hyundai Motorsport. While it doesn't have that cosseting comfort and refinement of the Volkswagen, it's so likable and addictive for its raucous and raw personality. Mechanically it feels engineered to excite and believe me it does just that. The Hyundai i30 N Performance is a real triumph for Hyundai!

Caroline Kidd

Model tested: Hyundai i30 N Performance
Price: 
€39,995
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
275bhp
Torque: 353Nm
0-100km/h:  
6.1 seconds
Top speed: 250km/h
Economy: 
7.1l/100km
CO2 emissions: 
163 g/km
Motor tax: 
€570 per year


2017 Volkswagen Golf R review ireland

Volkswagen Golf R Review (2017)

I awaited the arrival of the Volkswagen Golf R with great anticipation. Hot hatchbacks don’t come up in my diary very often but when they do I know to prepare for maximum distraction.

With the Volkswagen Golf R, what was calling me from under the bonnet was the growl of a 2.0-litre TSI. The Golf R is the halo car of the Volkswagen Golf range. While the legendary GTI uses the same engine with 230hp, in the Golf R it receives a healthy power boost to 310hp, along with the addition of all wheel drive.

2017 has been the year of the Golf Mk 7 makeover. The whole Golf range has received some small styling updates and new equipment, while the engine range has also been shaken up a bit with some models like the Golf R gaining more power (10hp) and the introduction of a new Volkswagen Golf 1.0TSI.

The Volkswagen Golf R sits at the top of the range with five door manual versions starting at €45,795 and the DSG equivalent from €47,595. This is a high spec Golf and naturally the interior is beautifully appointed. The infotainment system is new and works seamlessly. Visually the new glossy black surround does wonders for the interior and a digital instrument cluster has been introduced for the first time, standard on Golf R.

Volkswagen Golf R review ireland
The interior of the 2017 Volkswagen Golf R

Other equipment highlights include sports seats with alcantara trim, adaptive cruise control, dual zone climate control, front and rear parking sensors and LED lights front and rear.

On the outside the Golf R is a lesson in subtlety. There are sportier bumpers front and back and 19” alloys, but other than that the biggest clue that the Golf R might be housing something powerful are the two sets of double exhausts at the back!

Turn the key in the ignition and the engine of the Volkswagen Golf R roars into life. This car does not hiss and spit at you, and at low speeds around town it feels as calm as a 1.0-litre TSI. The overarching respectability of the Golf’s character means that it’s only when you put your foot down hard on the accelerator that you will officially arrive in hot hatch territory. There are a number of driving modes but my default was the feisty named ‘RACE’ mode because the accentuated engine noise adds a bit more drama to the cabin.

Volkswagen Golf R review ireland
The Volkswagen Golf R comes with 4MOTION all wheel drive and the choice of manual or DSG gearbox

One of the Golf R’s most redeeming qualities is its ability to transport a family and their things in comfort but accelerate like a rocket to 100kmh and carry great speed around corners with no loss of stability. The suspension is amazingly supple for a performance car, shaming some rivals (looking at you Ford Focus RS!). The steering is lightning quick but the feedback is not particularly interesting, so the Golf R in my opinion falls short of rivals like the Honda Civic Type R and Ford Focus RS in terms of smiles per mile.

There is an amazing polish to this car and a layer of perfection that is both its greatest asset and its undoing. Yes the Golf R has a wicked turn of speed. Yes it will retain vice like grip through corners and cut the apex perfectly corner after corner. But if you like hissy spitty hot hatches that make you feel like a lion tamer, the Volkswagen Golf R is not for you.

Yet the Golf R is all the things we love about the Golf with tremendous power and cornering stability. If you love Volkswagen quality and don’t want to be jostled around the cabin like a seagull on a stormy sea, then you won't go wrong with a Volkswagen Golf R!

Volkswagen Golf R review ireland
The Volkswagen Golf R now has 310hp

Model tested: Volkswagen Golf R 2.0TSI 4MOTION
Price: €45,795
Engine: 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 
310hp
Torque: 380Nm
0-100km/h:  
5.1 seconds
Top speed: 250km/h
Claimed Economy: 
7.9/100km
CO2 emissions:  
180g/km
Motor tax:
€750 per year

Caroline Kidd

If you are looking for a hot hatchback you might also like this review of the Ford Focus RS.


Honda Civic Type R review ireland

2017 Honda Civic Type R First Drive Review

An all-new Honda Civic landed in Ireland earlier in 2017 but Honda hasn’t made us wait long for the hot version. The fifth generation of the Honda Civic Type R packs 320hp and is available to order now in Ireland. Honda’s Type R label for performance models is legendary and 2017 marks the 25th anniversary since the debut of the first Honda bearing this badge.

The new Civic Type R car has already broken the record for fastest front wheel drive hatchback around the Nurburgring with a time of 7 minutes and 48.3 seconds, 7 seconds faster than the previous generation. But how will it handle Irish tarmac? I’ve been driving the new Honda Civic Type R at the Irish launch to find out.

Styling

The styling of the new Honda Civic Type R is a talking point. Just like the previous generation, the new Civic Type R is not subtle and harks back to a time when hot hatches had big wings and larger than life air scoops. The new Civic Type R’s other distinguishing feature is the centre mounted triple exhaust at the back. The motorsport inspired features all have a purpose including brake cooling vents, aerodynamic rear wing and a lightweight aluminium vented bonnet. The car is available in six colours including Championship White, Rallye Red and the exclusive Sonic Grey Pearl.

Interior

Inside the standard interior of the Honda Civic has been suitably ‘souped up’ with red to get your pulse racing. The basic ergonomics are the same and quality is good, with the alcantara trim a welcome addition. You slot into red bucket seats that are comfortable and supportive. And low, oh so low.

Honda Civic Type R review ireland
The interior of the new Honda Civic Type R

Practicality

The Honda Civic Type R is five door only and comes with generous passenger space and a 414 litre boot.

Engine

Under the bonnet there is the same 2.0-litre VTEC Turbo as in the previous generation. Torque is the same at 400Nm but power is up from 310hp to 320hp. 0 to 100kmh is achieved in 5.8 seconds, going onto a top speed of 272kmh. CO2 emissions of 176g/km put the Civic Type R in tax band E with motor tax of €750 per year, while it can return a claimed 36.7mpg on a combined cycle.

On the road

The new Honda Civic Type R is lighter and more rigid, with a lower centre of gravity. An advanced Dual-Axis Strut Front Suspension system reduces torque steer and enhances on-the-limit cornering and steering feel. At the rear, the Type R’s new multi-link suspension enhances ride comfort as well as high speed stability. Dual-Pinion Variable-Ratio Electric Power Steering is new to the Type R, using a similar system as featured on the standard Civic, but optimising the variable ratio to deliver a more direct and secure feel at high speed.

The Honda Civic Type R's standard six speed manual gearbox has a rev matching function for smoother shifts. There’s also a helical limited slip differential for greater traction during hard cornering. The front wheels are equipped with a high performance Brembo brake package, developed specifically for the car. The new Civic Type R brings three driving modes: Comfort, Sport, and R+ for more track focused driving. Each selection tailors the adaptive dampers, steering force, gear shift feeling and throttle response.

The new Honda Civic Type R may look immature, but from behind the steering wheel it’s matured with improved ride comfort that will make it an easy car to live with on a daily basis. Yet put the foot to the floor and the Civic Type R takes off like a hooligan trying to escape a robbery at the corner shop. The steering has extra weight in it and the car moves through corners at speed with ultimate precision and immense grip for a front wheel drive hatch. I look forward to spending more time with the car in 2018 to fully explore the Type R’s new character.

Honda Civic Type R review ireland
The Honda Civic Type R is on sale from €51,750 in Ireland

Equipment

Like the rest of the Civic range, the new Honda Civic Type R features the Honda SENSING suite of safety technologies including Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Road Departure Mitigation, Lane Keeping Assist System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Traffic Sign Recognition, Intelligent Speed Assistance and Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control.

Buyers can add a GT Pack for an extra €2,200. This pack adds carbon fibre effect sport garnish with red trim, Blind Spot Information including Cross Traffic Monitor, dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming rear view mirror, Honda CONNECT with Garmin Navigation, wireless charging pad, 542-watt 12-speaker audio system and LED front fog lights.

Pricing

The Honda Civic Type R retails in Ireland at €51,750, while the GT Pack is an extra €2,200.

Rivals

You will also find the Volkswagen Golf R and the Ford Focus RS occupying the space around the same price range as the new Honda Civic Type R, though both of those models are all wheel drive.

Verdict

The Honda Civic Type R is a ‘look at me’ hot hatchback and is not shy about its performance credentials. If the interior of this car does not get your pulse racing, I don’t know what will. Aside from being a ‘practical’ five door hatchback, the Honda Civic Type R is a front wheel drive wild animal with sophisticated engineering and the heart of a rev-happy, 2.0-litre VTEC Turbo. Honda knows how to play the hot hatch game and the new Honda Civic Type R is a serious contender against the competition.

Caroline Kidd