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Added agility makes hot hatch Renault Megane RS 280 so rewarding

New Renault Megane RS takes this iconic hot hatchback to a new level of performance and driving agility. Picture: Renault

New Renault Megane RS takes this iconic hot hatchback to a new level of performance and driving agility. Picture: Renault

Renault

The Megane RS, the latest hot hatch from Renault, has the performance and boosted dynamic agility to set petrolheads’ pulses racing. Jack Evans find out why.

Standard four-wheel steering creates a truly sharp driving experience once you're used to it. Picture: RenaultStandard four-wheel steering creates a truly sharp driving experience once you're used to it. Picture: Renault

The arrival of any new performance Renault is an exciting thing, but here’s a new car from the French manufacturer to really get the petrolheads’ pulses racing – the Megane RS.

A reimagined version of an iconic hot-hatch, this latest RS packs a new turbo engine as well as a range of mechanical touches designed to make it as exciting to drive as possible.

What’s new?

Red brake calipers are part of the £1,500 Cup Chassis pack. Picture: RenaultRed brake calipers are part of the £1,500 Cup Chassis pack. Picture: Renault

There’s that new engine, four-wheel-steering designed to give the car better agility and stability on road and track and the test car had the optional £1,500 Cup Chassis pack – limited slip differential, stiffer springs, dampers and an anti-roll bar and red brake calipers.

Sporty touches lift the interior along with new in-car tech.

Under the bonnet

Renault Megane RS looks as potent as it performs. Picture: RenaultRenault Megane RS looks as potent as it performs. Picture: Renault

The 1.8-litre turbo petrol engine produces 280hp and 390Nm of torque. Shared with the Alpine A110 sports car, it’s a flexible unit with decent low-down punch and mated to a six-speed manual gearbox on this test car or a dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

It offers a good balance between genuine performance and economy, making it a usable daily hot hatch.

How it drives

Interior has sporty touches but lacks the 'wow' factor. Picture: RenaultInterior has sporty touches but lacks the 'wow' factor. Picture: Renault

The first thing you notice, as a result of that four-wheel steering – standard along with a regular sport chassis – is a sensation that the car is tightening in on itself when attacking a bend. Once used to it, it gives you the confidence to come into bends quicker and gives the car a lot of agility such as when exiting a roundabout or just turning out of tighter junctions. In sport mode this is limited to around 30mph, in race mode around 60mph.

The Cup chassis is brilliant, minimising body roll while giving an overall feeling of alertness, but there’s a general unsettled feeling.

Space and comfort

The cabin benefits from a smattering of sporty touches – bolstered bucket seats, Alcantara-trimmed steering wheel – but it lacks that ‘wow’ factor. Everything is well positioned and the general seat position spot on with plenty of adjustment.

The 384-litre boot can be extended to 1,247 litres by folding down the rear seats.

Final say

This exceptionally accomplished hot hatch feels perfectly suited to UK country roads. The four-wheel-steering takes a little getting used to but creates a truly sharp driving experience. It needs to be driven towards the upper reaches to get the best from it – at lower speeds it feels a little too firm. However, commit to the car and it’ll reward you time and time again.

SPEC AND TECH

Price: Renault Megane RS 280 Cup £28,995 (range from £27,495)

Engine: 1.8-litre, 280hp, four-cylinder turbo petrol

Performance: 0-62mph 5.8 seconds; top speed 158mph

MPG: 39.2 combined

CO2 emissions: 163g/km

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