What's the used Renault Megane R.S. hatchback like?
Keen motorists after a fast front-wheel-drive hot hatch have been queuing up at Renault's door for years to buy the Mégane RS, a car that’s so rewarding and so thrilling that it’s the automotive equivalent of a romantic weekend getaway in Paris.
This is the third-generation RS, the sporty version of the fourth-generation Mégane and, despite the emergence of several brilliant rivals in this class in the past few years, including the Honda Civic Type R and the Volkswagen Golf GTI, it’s still a force to be reckoned with. It’s a five-door only now, and for this version the engine has dropped in size from 2.0 litres to 1.8, but don’t worry: those rear doors simply make it more practical for those who want to come along for the ride and, thanks to its large turbocharger, this car has more power and torque than the outgoing Mégane RS 275.
You can send that power through a six-speed manual gearbox or, for the first time in a hot Mégane, a dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The sophisticated suspension has been comprehensively tweaked, and there’s even the addition of four-wheel steering, which makes the agile Mégane change direction like a cornered rat. You can have it in two different states of firmness, too: standard or Cup, the latter also featuring on the 300 Trophy models, where power is up from the regular 276bhp to a mega 296bhp. This version also features upgraded brakes and a lightweight lithium ion battery to shave 18kg off the standard car. There was even a set of lighter wheels available to save a further 8kg.
Standard equipment is pretty generous and includes climate control, LED headlights, rear parking sensors and keyless entry. Alas, you’ll have to track down a car fitted with the optional Safety Pack Premium to get automatic emergency braking.
On the road, the Mégane RS is a peach. It’s quick, for one; 0-62mph comes up in just 5.7sec in the 300 Trophy, and it’ll run up to 162mph. It sounds great, too, especially in its Sport or Race modes (Natural is the standard setting). On the standard suspension, it's firm but rides bumps and broken roads well, although some of its rivals are more forgiving. The Cup is even firmer and can jostle you around even more on give-and-take roads. It's an improvement on the old car, though.
The RS steers faithfully and body control is top-notch. The handling is brilliant, grip is sensational and the four-wheel steering is a revelation, making the car dart around with almost unseemly agility. It’s wonderfully stable and tremendous fun.
Inside, there are sports seats, with even more figure-hugging Recaros an option, plus an adjustable steering wheel and a pretty good driving position. Quality is a little mixed, but there are plenty of sporting touches, and although the infotainment isn't the most modern or easiest to use, it can be bypassed via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
There’s a decent amount of space up front, and two adults will be fine in the back, although a third middle passenger wouldn't want to travel too far. Go for the hardcore Trophy-R version and those rear seats are removed altogether to save weight, or allow you to carry the optional spare set of carbonfibre wheels. The boot is a good size and well shaped, although there’s a high loading lip to lift things over, and there’s a slight step in the extended load bay with the rear seatbacks folded down.
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