As a Renault Sport owner, I was rather excited for this car to be unveiled, especially after seeing Formula 1 driver, Nico Hulkenberg tackling a mountain pass with a large grin on his face during the teaser film. I was also excited because the Renault Sport range has become obscenely dull over the last few years since the third generation Clio (yes, I own one). My hopes rested on this car to restore the wild and abstract French beauty that made the Sport range so damn good previously.
I’m sad to announce that this car does not restore the once glorious past of the Renault Sport range but rather just add another car to an underwhelming modern ‘sport’ range. I think for someone who wants something that’s sleek, modern and refined this car is definitely up there and worth considering but that’s not the point. For me, a ‘sport’ version of a car should hold certain characteristics: a wide body, good sound, speed and most importantly, more aggressive looks. The Megane is a good-looking car but feels a bit plain in all honesty. Anyway, let’s move on to the performance of this hot hatch so I don’t bang on all day.
Let’s begin with the engine then. It has a 1.8-litre four-cylinder motor that produces 280bhp, which isn’t mind bogglingly powerful but will get you from 0-60mph in under six seconds according to the guys at Renault. It also comes with Renault’s new 4Control system, being four-wheel steering which will improve agility and handling out on track. I’m happy to say that the Megane RS will come with two gearbox options in the form of a six-speed manual and a dual clutch paddle shift. This car is quite a bit down on power compared to its nearest rivals which all have over 300bhp. Having said this though, Renault have made it public that there will be Trophy and R26R versions of this car that will break the 300bhp barrier.
The Megane is an understated car but does host some trademark Renault Sport characteristics. Essentially, it is wider than the standard car (not enough in my opinion) and features some vents that give it a slightly more menacing look. It also has Renault Sport badging scattered around the car; mainly on the steering wheel, side vents and front fog lights. The one thing I can’t quite work out is why Renault thought it was a good idea to firstly: make this car front-wheel drive and second: give this car a smaller power unit than the previous generation car. In this current market of hot hatches with the likes of the Audi RS3 and Mercedes A45 AMG, the Megane is completely out classed in terms of performance.
Overall then, this car doesn’t give the ‘wow’ factor I thought it might. It has a lack of power compared to its main rivals in the market, the design doesn’t reek of traditional Renault Sport flare and with prices starting at £30,000, it isn’t a bargain either especially when you can pick up a brand-new Golf GTI for a similar price tag. Although I have a lot of ‘draw backs’ to mention about the Megane, I’m sure as a whole this car will be very good to drive. Dynamically, Renault has always done a good job, even when the looks department took a boring downturn. Hopefully the Trophy and R26R versions will raise the performance bar significantly to bring the Megane closer to its rivals.