Port Elizabeth - Renault has unleashed its all-new Megane RS in South Africa, and it’s priced directly in the path of Volkswagen’s less potent Golf GTI.

Sporting a brand new direct injection 1.8-litre turbopetrol engine, the RS is available in ‘Cup’ guise with a six-speed manual gearbox or as a ‘Lux’, in which case it’s fitted with Renalt’s six-speed EDC dual-clutch transmission. Both retail for exactly R549 900.

The new motor, designed with combined input from Renault Sport Cars and Renault Sport Racing Formula 1 engineers, pushes 205kW at 6000rpm and 390Nm between 2400 and 4800. In fact it’s far closer, in output terms to the 213kW/380Nm Golf R than it is to the GTI (169kW/350Nm).

As has become customary for Renault’s hot hatches, two different chassis are on offer.

Those opting for the ‘Lux’ model get the ‘Sport’ chassis. It rides 5mm lower to the ground than standard Meganes and gets sportier tuning, but it is less hardcore than the Cup, seeking to provide the best balance between comfort and handling. 

The Cup chassis prioritises the latter, with 10 percent stiffer shocks and a new Torsen mechanical limited slip differential.

Both chassis types get Renault’s new 4Control four-wheel steering system that turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front at lower speeds for better manoeuvrability, and in the same direction at higher speeds for improved stability.

The Lux runs on Estoril gun metal grey 18-inch alloys while the Cup gets a set of black and diamond cut 19-inch rims. Both are further distinguished from humbler Meganes by flared fenders, new bumpers with ‘3D’ honeycomb mesh up front and a large diffuser round back.

Inside, the RS models are kitted with alcantara-upholstered (and heated) sport front seats with race-style integrated head rests, as well as a bespoke ‘RS’ steering wheel, chrome plated front door sills, aluminium pedals and black headlining.

Despite the one being badged ‘Lux’, there’s little to distinguish the two options in terms of comfort features, besides the latter getting an electronic parking brake. Both come with a 22cm touchscreen infotainment system with satnav and reverse camera, digital instrument cluster, dual zone climate control, cruise control and keyless start.

There’s also Renault’s Multi-Sense gadget that allows drivers to customise the engine, gearbox and steering characteristics through five settings. But if you’re in a hurry, the RS Drive button will give you a shortcut to the Sport and Race modes.

As mentioned, both the manual Cup model and EDC Lux retail at R549 900, which includes a five-year/100 000km mechanical warranty and three-year/45 000km service plan.

IOL Motoring