Megane RS an enticing French hotrod
Renault Mégane RS 265 Lux
Johannesburg - Following a facelift to the bulk of the Renault Mégane range in August 2014, the updated high-performance RS version recently landed on our shores.
All mechanical specifications in the RS are the same as before, the only differences being that the front grille is updated with Renault’s new brand identity and the wheels are now changed to mean-looking anthracite grey 18” alloys.
Under the hood is the same powerful two-litre turbo petrol engine, powering the front wheels through a manual six-shifter. The car’s full name is the Mégane RS 265 Lux, the number referring to the engine output in horsepower which equates to 195kW. Along with its 360Nm of torque, the RS is well armed in this popular segment of the hot-hatch league against competitors such as the VW Golf GTI (162kW) and Ford Focus ST (184kW).
We’ve put all these cars against the clock at Gauteng altitude, and to settle those around-the-braai arguments here are the 0-100km/h figures we recorded for the manual versions: Golf GTI 6.6 seconds, Mégane RS 6.9 secs and Ford Focus ST 7.4 secs - each tested at the same venue using the same Vbox equipment.
The Mégane was also just one-tenth of a second slower than the much pricier and more powerful 206kW Opel Astra OPC, which once again proves that claimed output figures don’t always tell the full story; it’s about how effectively the car can put the power down. The Mégane does so very competently, even if it can’t match the Golf GTI which is a faster sprinter despite having a lower engine output.
With its traction control engaged the RS gets off the line in a civilised fashion without too much fuss, but switching to Race mode switches off the electronic nanny and the car becomes a wheelspinning handful as all that unrestrained power is unloaded through the front tyres. For some playfulness without the histrionics, there’s an intermediate Sport mode which reduces the traction assistance and at the same time livens up the throttle response.
Along with a 250km/h top speed, the fiery performance extends to the in-gear acceleration which delivers lusty, lag-free torque for overtaking long trucks. Given this lively performance our test car’s 11.6 litres per 100km fuel consumption wasn’t half bad, although the factory claims you can bring it down to 8.2 if you drive with excessive restraint.
Along with its straight line prowess the French hotrod displays a keen talent in direction changes, its sports chassis and low-profile 225/40 rubber ensuring road-hugging handling without delivering an over-firm ride. The steering is electrically assisted like most cars nowadays, but has good feel.
The Mégane RS packages all this pace in a flamboyant three-door design that makes a Golf GTI and Focus ST look decidedly frumpy by comparison. The French car has a racy poise with its swept back coupé-like roofline, combined with F1-styled front splitter and daytime running LEDs, and at the rear a centre-mounted exhaust integrated into the diffuser.
Inside, the sporty glamour includes aluminium pedals, body-hugging bucket seats, red stitching and metallic bits to brighten up the cockpit. The steering wheel also has a stitched stripe to let you know when it’s centred. The styling flair’s backed up by neat finishes and quality-feel surfaces.
The RS leather seats are electrically adjustable and heated, and the well-stocked equipment package also includes a TomTom Live Navigation system that gives real-time traffic information to help you avoid jams.
Also standard in the flagship Megane is Bluetooth smartphone connectivity, cruise control, and an audio system with the most intuitive and user-friendly fingertip controls in the business (they’re mounted behind the steering exactly where your fingers are).
A hands-free key card allows for keyless starting and locking/unlocking of the doors and boot, although in our test car it worked intermittently and the doors sometimes wouldn’t unlock when we grasped the handle.
Safety fare includes six airbags and ABS brakes along with the aforementioned stability-control system, and a tyre-pressure monitor (the spare wheel is a space saver). Perhaps the most important safety feature is that Renault SA offers Advanced Driver Training to all RS customers.
The car is sold with Renault’s standard five-year or 150 000km warranty and five-year or 90 000km service plan, while services are at 10 000km.
This rapid French hatch delivers an attractive mix of thrust, handling and visual appeal. Priced at R389 900, the Mégane Renault Sport 265 Lux also represents good value.
Renault Mégane RS 265 Lux
Engine: 2-litre, 4-cylinder turbopetrol
Gearbox: 6-speed manual
Power: 195kW @ 5500-6000rpm
Torque: 360Nm @ 3000rpm
0-100km/h (claimed): 6.0 seconds
Top speed (claimed): 250km/h
Consumption (claimed): 8.2 litres per 100km
Price: R389 900
Warranty: 5-year/150 000km
Service plan: 5-year/90 000km
Ford Focus ST 1 (184kW/360Nm) - R350 900
Ford Focus ST 3 (184kW/360Nm) - R394 900
Opel Astra OPC (206kW/400Nm) - R496 300
Volkswagen Golf GTI (162kW/350Nm) - R412 300