Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Whether you go for the regular Megane RS 300 or the Trophy version, you get a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine pumping out 296bhp.
That’s more than the Hyundai i30N and regular VW Golf GTI, but less than the Honda Civic Type R – let alone the bonkers Mercedes-AMG A45. The similarly priced Toyota GR Yaris (with the Circuit pack) has less power too, although its featherweight build and four-wheel drive give it the edge.
What’s more, its four-wheel steering system is no gimmick – it not only gives the RS an incredibly tight turning circle, but also helps to improve agility on winding roads, especially in Race mode. You feel as though the car is pivoting around you, especially in the sort of tight hairpins that front-wheel drive cars usually struggle with. One word of warning, though: it’s a sensation you’ll either love or hate and some people find it disconcerting, especially in wet conditions.
Something else to bear in mind is that there’s no limited-slip differential (LSD) to help the standard Megane RS put its power down. That means you either have to be patient with your right foot or accept that a little wheelspin and the tendency of the nose to run wide are all part of the fun.
It's better to fork out a bit extra for the Trophy, because this brings an LSD that allows you to use much more power when accelerating out of corners, even if it can still feel like someone has hacked into the steering and is fighting you for control, due to the way the engine’s torque tugs the wheel left and right in your hands.
In non-Trophy form, the car rides bumps and broken road surfaces reasonably well, even though it’s not as forgiving as the Civic Type R or VW Golf R. As for the stiffer (though not lower) suspension that Trophy-spec brings, it helps the Megane RS control its body movements even better through quick changes of direction. The pay-off is a tendency to bounce and jostle you around when you’re not driving as though there’s a tornado on your tail.
As with many hot hatchbacks, you can only have the Megane RS as an automatic. The six-speed dual-clutch gearbox is smooth enough in every day driving and quick to respond to manual commands, especially in Race mode. Even so, we prefer the extra layer of interaction you get from the manual 'boxes in the Civic Type R and GR Yaris.