The Renault Megane has been on sale for four years, but we were kept hanging on for the Renaultsport (RS) model. Mind you, when it finally turned up last year, the consensus was that it was worth waiting for.
Even though the three-door coupe has been switched for a five-door hatch, Renault’s Megane RS has the same fun factor injected into it. Indeed, it’s among the best when it comes to modern hot-hatchbacks.
But is the Renaultsport Megane superior to the car it trades places with? “Yes” is the short answer. You see, previous Renaultsport cars have obtained a cult-like following for their on-track handling. And this model is now the dog’s danglies on and off the track. To achieve this, Renault has gone for a compact yet more potent 280ps 1.8-litre turbocharged powerplant. And there’s the choice of a six-speed twin-clutch automatic or a six-speed manual to drive clout to the front rubbers.
There are standard, and Cup forms of the Renaultsport Megane – with the latter tested here hooked up to a manual gearbox. The Cup adds a limited-slip diff to increase traction out of bends and is equipped with stiffer dampers.
Another key feature on all Megane RS 280s is four-wheel steering. This ‘4Control’, as Renault calls it, makes the RS the only up to date hot-hatch to be fitted with rear wheels that can steer. The result is strengthened stability and increased nimbleness. The steering isn’t overflowing with feeling, but it is precise, and the four-wheel steering means the RS has acrobatic levels of agility.
The sound of the engine is heightened by the cabin’s speakers, which are convincing, while bangs and crackles explode from the RS 280’s exhaust when changing down the cogs. Considering it only has a four-cylinder turbocharged unit, the Megane RS sounds tremendous.
Aesthetically, the Megane RS has impressive kerbside presence. Its stocky stance highlighted by distended arches accommodating sexy 19-inch alloy wheels looks terrific. The interior is similarly impressive with the Renault sporting bucket seats and an Alcantara steering wheel.
Of course, it’s not unflawed – the phoney carbon fibre effect material on the doors looks naff, and there are some cheap plastics on the dashboard. But, for the most part, the Renault Megane RS 280 is a splendid machine that should be on your shopping list if you’re after a proper hot-hatch.
Car reviewed: Renault Mégane Hatch R.S. 280 on the road price £28,835 0-62mph 5.8secs Top speed 158mph Engine 1798cc 4 cylinder unleaded Euro 6.2 Fuel Economy TBC CO2 emissions 181g/km Max Power [email protected] Torque [email protected] Transmission 6-speed manual
Tim Barnes-Clay qualified as a journalist in 1994 and is a member of the Midland Group of Motoring Writers. He initially trained in broadcast journalism and has worked as a reporter and news reader at various radio stations in East Anglia and the Midlands. He has also been a motoring journalist for the Mirror Group’s L!ve TV cable network and a presenter, reporter and producer at ITV Central in Birmingham. Tim is now an automotive writer, focusing on car reviews. He has media accreditation with all motor manufacturers’ press offices, and this enables him to test drive the latest cars. He also attends new vehicle press launches at home and abroad.
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