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Renault Megane R.S.: French flair pounces swiftly and crisply

By Ghaith Madadha - Oct 07,2019 - Last updated at Oct 07,2019

Photo courtesy of Renault

Back with a vengeance, the Renault Megane R.S. reclaimed the hotly contested front-wheel-drive Nurburgring Nordschleife lap record from the Honda Civic Type R by a 3.7-second margin last May in its more powerful and lighter Trophy-R guise. 

A faster and more focused track weapon than ever even in standard version the Megane R.S. lived up to expectations when first driven on the Dubai Autodrome late last year. However, a recent extended road drive revealed it to be a practical, engaging, efficient, highly equipped and easily manoeuvrable daily driver.

A better track car and better road car, RenaultSport’s new Megane receives a more powerful downsized engine, additional two doors, optional automated gearbox and much more safety and convenience technology. 

Design-wise, it has a more mature look with greater emphasis on width and more intricate fascia detail and sculpted skin. Sportier and more urgent in demeanour, it features a more aggressive front assembly with a bigger diamond emblem and F1-inspired blade, and functional side vents, central exhaust tip and bigger rear air diffuser to generate more downforce.

 

Prodigious and punchy

 

Though losing 0.2-litres in displacement, the new Megane R.S.’ output rises from 261BHP and 266lb/ft to 276BHP delivered at a peaky 6,000rpm and
287lb/ft on tap throughout a wider and more accessible 2,400-4,800rpm, courtesy of its new turbocharged 1.8-litre 4-cyinder engine, which it shares in slightly re-tuned guise with Renault’s Alpine sub-brand A110 sports car. Acceleration through 0-100km/h is also down from 6-seconds to 5.8-seconds, while fuel consumption is reduced from 8.2l/100km to 7l/100km, despite slight weight gain to 1,430kg in the 6-speed automated dual clutch version driven. 

Brutally swift reaching for its top-end on track and flexible as it digs deep and pulls hard in mid-range, the Megane R.S.’ performance translates well for road use. A quick spooling turbo provides good stop/start response in traffic, while its generously broad torque band provides effortlessly versatile acceleration when cruising, overtaking and on inclines. Its automated gearbox shifts slick and smooth, but can be configured for swifter, more decisively quick shifts through the drive mode menu, through which a throatier engine note and other driving parameters can be tailored.

 

Road racer

 

Capable of 250km/h, the Megane R.S. is stable, smooth and settled at speed on track or highway, with plenty of downforce through fast sweeping corners and flat body control through tighter bends. Riding on modified MacPherson strut front suspension with an independent steering axis pivot to minimise torque-steer often associated with powerful front-drivers, it well channels power in a focused manner through corners as its low profile 245/35R19 tyres grip hard. Meanwhile, damper-embedded hydraulic compressions provide improved tyre contact with the ground for better traction, cornering grip and braking.

Settled, composed and committed through corners, over imperfections and on rebound with its rally-inspired dampers, the Megane R.S. is a confident and comfortable daily driver, but can be somewhat firm over sharp car park speed bumps. The ace up the R.S.’ sleeve is, however, its 4Control four-wheel-steering, which turns the rear wheels 2.7 degree in the opposite direction at moderate speeds to effectively shorten the wheelbase for improved agility and manoeuvrability, and alternately turn them 1 degree in the same direction as the front at speed for enhanced responsiveness and stability.

 

Nimble on its feet

 

Pouncing swiftly and crisply through chicanes and technical corners on track, the R.S.’ agility is reflected on road where slices the tightest of bends with stunning poise and stability, seeming to turn on the proverbial dime. With the manoeuvrability of a smaller car and stability of a larger car, one feels the Megane’s four-wheel-steering at work as it dispatches corners and darts through traffic with urgently nimble focus. Meanwhile, it easily manoeuvres narrow roads and tight parking spots, also aided by its rear view camera and parking assistance system.

Refined and sporty inside with Alcantara seats and contrasting stitching, the Megane R.S. features excellent front sports seats with the right space, support and ergonomics for sideways track action and long-distance commutes alike. Layouts are user-friendly while a portrait tablet-like infotainment screen features additional G-force, steering angle and other gauges. Numerous safety and convenience systems include directional lights and blindspot warning. Rear space is adequate in class, but the bigger air diffuser reduces under-floor boot space, as the spare tyre is strapped down above-floor and reduces otherwise generous boot volume.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

 

Engine: 1.8-litre, transverse, turbocharged 4-cylinders

Bore x stroke: 79.7 x 90.1mm

Valve-train: 16-valve, DOHC, variable valve timing

Gearbox: 6-speed dual clutch automated, front-wheel-drive

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 276 (280) [205] @6,000rpm

Specific power: 153.5BHP/litre

Power-to-weight: 193BHP/tonne

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 287 (390) @2,400-4,800rpm

Specific torque: 216Nm/litre

Torque-to-weight: 272.7Nm/tonne

0-100 km/h: 5.8-seconds

Top speed: 250km/h

Fuel capacity: 50-litres

Fuel economy, urban/extra-urban/combined: 8.5-/6.1-
/7-litres/100km

CO2 emissions, combined: 158g/km

Length: 4,372mm

Width: 1,874mm

Height: 1,445mm

Wheelbase: 2,699mm

Track, F/R: 1,615/1,596mm

Overhang, F/R: 916/786mm

Ground clearance: 101mm

Cabin width, F/R: 1,418/1,420mm

Unladen weight: 1,430kg

Steering: Electric-assisted rack & pinion, four-wheel-steering

Turning radius: 10.3-metres

Suspension, F/R: MacPherson struts, independent steering axis pivot/H-beam

Brakes, F/R: 355mm ventilated discs/290mm discs

Stopping time, from 400-/1,000-metres: 14-/25-seconds

Tyres: 245/35R19

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