2019 RENAULT MEGANE R.S. REVIEW

Renault_Megane_RS_frontNew Megane R.S. 280 is a serious sporting hatch that’s aimed at the keen driver who wants to get the best from their motoring life. It features the latest in powertrain technology, chassis tuning and aerodynamic assistance.

However, its stunning styling and excellent colour choices mean it will also appeal to those more interested in serene grand touring than in track day blasting.

Australia has historically been one of Renault Sport’s biggest markets for the Megane R.S. and a week in the latest model shows this is likely to continue.

STYLING
Major changes to the appearance from the standard Megane models include wider wheelarches to accomodate the big tyres.

Strong colours certainly make a statement, our test R.S. was in Liquid Yellow, which worked beautifully with the multiple black grilles, foglight surrounds, front guard vents, subtle lower side skirts and the rear diffuser.

It is also offers in Orange Tonic paint, but yellow and black have been Renault motorsport colours for so many years we reckon ‘our’ yellow and black beast is the one to opt for.

This latest Megane R.S, is a five-door hatch, not a three-door as in previous models, perhaps to try and attract more family buyers.

The interior features sports front seats with bolsters that support without being overly aggressive, aluminium pedals and a multi-mode instrument layout.

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INFOTAINMENT
We really like the use of a portrait shaped 8.7-inch screen as you can get a lot more map information in sight when using satellite navigation.

However, the menu system is too complicated and if you’re one of those silly people who likes to use it while you’re driving it can cause too much inattention.

POWERTRAIN
Power comes from a highly-tuned 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. Showing it’s a serious powerplant it must only be run only on 98 octane premium fuel.

It produces up to 280 horsepower, hence its 280 name (205 kilowatts in Australian numbers). Torque is a strong 390 Nm which is reached at a relatively low 2400 revs and continues to 4800, even after that it still remains strong.

Transmission is to the front wheels by either a six-speed manual or seven-speed clutch automatic.

On the manual versions, you can choose between two types of chassis, the standard Sport or the pretty serious Cup model.

A major feature is Renault’s 4CONTROL system that is standard on the Sport and Cup chassis. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels, up to a maximum angle of 2.7 degrees. At speeds of over 60 km/h (Over 100 km/h in Race mode) the front and rear wheels turn in the same direction, limited to a one-degree angle for the rear wheels.

Renault_Megane_RS_interior

SAFETY
Renault has long been one of the world leaders in safety. As well as the obvious active safety in a well sorted sports machine like the R.S, there are many passive safety features.

Six airbags are standard as are automatic emergency braking, electronic stability control, ABS brakes, blind spot warning for this who don’t set up their mirrors correctly and distance warning.

DRIVING
Forget the Comfort mode in the R.S. even in day-to-day driving it’s likely to prove just too sluggish in acceleration and the feel of the steering is too light.

Once into Sport the Megane engine takes on a lovely growl and makes all the snap-crackle-pop sounds during downshifts and when decelerating.

Left on its own the dual-clutch auto is generally in the correct gear. Manual overrides are snappy and positive. We don’t like the paddles being fixed to the column, they should move with the steering wheel.

It took a while to become accustomed to the four-wheel steering, but once we did it felt just right. The fast ratios mean you can keep your hands in the one position on the wheel at all times, with the sole exception of very tight hairpin bends.

Road grip is enormous and you would really have to be pushing extremely hard to bring in the electronic driving aids.

Comfort is pretty good, but this is a sports machine and it is rather firm at times. Big bumps are generally coped with and Renault has a clever bump-spot system that operates in a pleasingly subtle way.

During the media launch of the Megane R.S. in late 2018 we spent time at Norwell Motorplex, which is a driver training centre, not a racetrack, in south-east Queensland. In Race mode you can really feel the R.S. talking to you through the steering and by the feel of well bolstered semi-race seats.

Engine response is excellent and the brakes haul off speed hard and never showed any sign of fading.

SUMMING UP
Renault Megane R.S. 280 is an excellent machine from a company with over a hundred years in motorsport – and Aussie Daniel Ricciardo is driving an F1 Renault this year. This Megane offers sheer driving pleasure and standout styling for a relatively modest price.

MODEL RANGE
R.S. 280: $44,990 (manual), $47,490 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Renault dealer for drive-away prices.

AT A GLANCE

MODEL RANGE
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Renault dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Renault Megane R.S. 280 1.8-litre turbo-petrol five-door hatch)

ENGINE:
Capacity: 1.798 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 205 kW @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 390 Nm @ 2400 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 168 g/km

DRIVELINE: Six-speed manual

DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4364 mm
Wheelbase: 2670 mm
Width: 1875 mm
Height: 1435 mm
Turning Circle: Not supplied
Kerb Mass: 1450 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres

BRAKES:
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Solid disc

STANDARD WARRANTY:
Five years / unlimited kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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