The Renault Megane IV R.S. 280 launched at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, is the latest C-Segment hot hatch by Renault Sport, based on a more practical five door bodystyle.
Under the bonnet, there is a new 1.8 litre TCE engine with a twin-scroll turbocharger, producing 205 kw (280 hp) of power and 390 Nm of torque, mated to either a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed dual clutch EDC gearbox. Thanks to all that, the car accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 5,8 seconds and has a top speed of 255 km/h (158 mph).
The French hot hatch also comes packed with technology, including the segment’s only four wheel steering system (4Control), Multisense driving modes, R.S. Vision lighting, launch control, various driver support systems and a redesigned suspension with hydraulic compression stops. For those who want something more aggressive than the regular Sport Chassis, there is the Cup Chassis option ($1500 aud) with the addition of a Torsen® limited slip differential and 10% stiffer suspension. For the purpose of this review, Renault Australia kindly offered us a Megane R.S. with the Sport Chassis and the six-speed dual clutch EDC gearbox.
The biggest rivals of the Megane IV R.S. 280 are the Hyundai i30 N Performance (read our review here), the VW Golf VII GTI (facelift), the Honda Civic Type-R (FK8), the Peugeot 308 GTi, and the upcoming Ford Focus ST. Some buyers might also consider the upcoming Megane R.S. 300 Trophy with a little bit more power (224 kw / 300 hp) and torque (420 Nm).
Looks are subjective but the latest Megane R.S. is considered by many as one of the most striking hot hatches in the market. The R.S. specific bodykit clearly distinguishes it from the rest of the Megane range. Besides the larger bumpers, it also includes widened front and rear fenders covering the wider tracks (+60mm at the front and +45mm at the back compared with the Megane GT) which create an impressive road presence from all angles especially when combined with the fantastic Liquid Yellow colour shade of our car.
At the front, the full-LED headlights and the additional chequered flag lights on the lower part of the bumper, give the car a premium look. The large side intakes on the front bumper are not functional, but they really add up to the overall looks of the car, while the F1-style blade painted in gun-metal gray is a nod to Renault Sport’s heritage in Formula 1.
On the profile, the Megane R.S. has balanced proportions and muscular curves complimented by the beautiful 19 inch “Interlagos” alloy wheels with diamond finish (black finish with the Cup Chassis). Our favorite design element of the car is the pronounced rear shoulders that are further emphasized by the sporty window line and the large inclination of the rear windscreen. This takes us to the aggressive rear end of the car where we find a body-coloured rear wing expanding to the sides, the long, horizontally arranged LED taillights and the beefy rear bumper with side slits, a very large and functional rear diffuser and a centrally located trapezoidal exhaust pipe that looks like it belongs to a supercar.
Interior / Equipment
When you step inside the Megane IV R.S. you immediately notice the high levels of refinement and the sporty touches which express the character of the car. The Renault Sport treatment includes Alcantara upholstered front and rear seats ($1,190), black roof lining, customizable lighting on the doors, aluminium pedals, sporty gear selector, R.S. badge on the steering wheel and contrasting red stitching. The heavy bolstered sport seats with integrated headrests and heating function, may lack electronic adjustment controls, however they offer high levels of support while being very comfortable on everyday driving.
Benefiting from the generous exterior dimensions, the spacious cabin can accommodate four adults (or five passengers of smaller size), who will enjoy an adequate amount of knee-room and headroom, with 434 liters of luggage space at the back. At the front, there are a few hidden storage compartments in the center console, with the most useful one under the armrest making up for the comparably small glovebox.
The R-Link 2 infotainment system, operated through a large 8,7 inch touch screen in portrait mode, is responsive and easy to use, hosting functions like satellite navigation, media player, climate controls (with air quality sensor), R.S. monitor (which gives you access to telemetry statistics in real-time), and the Multisence driving mode selector which customizes the car’s behavior according to driver’s needs. Our only complain for the tablet-like interface of the infotainment system would be the sliding gesture needed for accessing the climate control menu, which can be tricky while driving, even though you can easily change the temperature through the large physical knobs underneath. A handy feature is the on/off button on the top right corner that allows you to turn of the screen when you had enough technology for the day.
A lot of the car’s functions can be accessed through the buttons on the steering wheel and the additional small knob behind it for the media controls, while the aluminium gearshift paddles are a nice feature although we would prefer if they were a little bit longer. The R.S. drive physical button under the screen is very useful as well, allowing you to quickly select the Sport mode when you want to enjoy better sound and quicker response from the engine and the gearbox. Furthermore, in the digital instrument cluster, the design of the rpm counter changes accordingly with every driving mode.p
Another thing that we loved is the premium Bose sound system (including a central loudspeaker, eight additional speakers and a subwoofer) which offers exceptional audio quality and is a great value for the music lovers at $500. There are also two USB ports, Aux in, an SD card slot and a 12V socket, while the infotainment system also supports Bluetooth connectivity so you can enjoy music from your smartphone.
As for the safety equipment, the Adaptive Cruise Control which works great in speeds above 50 km/h, feels very safe and predictable and comes handy for highway driving. Hot hatches are meant to be driven so the absence of active lane assist won’t be an issue for most of the customers, with a more basic lane departure warning function offered instead. The car also has a traffic sign recognition system, alerting you whenever you exceed the limits, and a blind spot warning which is very useful when changing lanes. Finally, the hands-free parking assist does all the work for you if you want to squeeze in tight spots, but the rear view camera and the sensors all around the car make your life easier anyway.
After admiring every little detail of the car inside out, we can now start driving. The biggest surprise of the new Megane R.S. is the ride quality. While the car doesn’t have active suspension technology like some of its rivals, the ingenious “hydraulic compression stops” do a great job in absorbing bumps and imperfections on the tarmac. The comfortable ride makes the Megane a great daily driver in combination with the dual-clutch EDC gearbox, even though the R.S. fanatics will probably opt for the 6-speed manual which naturally is more engaging. Having said that, the suspension is still stiff, providing a planted feel on the road with zero body roll as you would expect from a top of the range hot hatch from Renault.
Besides being nimble and friendly in the city, the Megane R.S. is also a very good cruiser. On the highway, the adaptive cruise control is fantastic, and the car feels very stable, safe and quiet, effortlessly maintaining high speeds. At the same time, the acceleration is quite impressive, so overtaking and merging in the traffic can be quite a pleasant experience with the accompanying audible feedback. For better control, you can also change gears manually through the paddles, but in most of the cases the EDC will probably have already selected the right gear for you. According to Renault, average fuel consumption is 7.4 litres per 100 km, but you should expect something closer to 8.5 litres for a normal driver who likes to enjoy the car’s capabilities more often.
The four wheel steering (4Control) is noticeable right away even in low speeds, where it virtually shortens the wheelbase by slightly turning the rear wheels in the opposite direction. On the other hand, when you drive faster, there is an significant impact on the car’s handling, as the system enhances the positioning of the rear end by turning all four wheels on the same direction. It requires some time for the driver to adjust with this new technology, but after a while you really get to enjoy the benefits of the 4Control system which allows faster cornering with minimum effort.
As for the driving modes, “Neutral” provides the best balance between fuel economy, comfort and sharpness, without the nimbleness of the gearbox in “Comfort” mode. The real fun though comes when you select the “Sport” mode – the dials and the interior lighting turn red, the exhaust sound becomes significantly more aggressive, and the EDC drops a gear so you get the full torque of the mid-range revs on your right foot. Under full throttle, the engine livens up, giving you access to the full 390 Nm of torque available between @2400-5000 rpm and the exhaust makes a lovely noise on every gear change. The wide 245/40 R19 Bridgestone tires provide huge levels of grip, even though in some cases, wheel spin is unavoidable with 205 kw (280hp) of power transmitted to the front wheels. The steering feel is not perfect but it is very direct and precise allowing you to place the car exactly where you want on the road, without much effort. The brakes consisting of 355mm ventilated discs at the front and 290mm solid disc at the rear, are very capable and the pedal has a progressive feel. Straight-line acceleration is very good with 5,8 seconds for the 0-100 km/h, with the help of the Launch Control function initiated by pressing both gearshift paddles. For the track, there is also the more extreme “Race” mode in which the ESC is turned off, allowing for a more playful driving style, while it also gives you access to a very cool digital rev counter and purple interior lighting. Finally, there is the “Perso” mode for customizing each element according to your preference, although to tell you the truth,we were already covered from the rest of the customizable modes.
With the new Megane R.S., it is when you start pushing that you really feel the great potential of the engine, the chassis and all the technology that comes with it. We believe that this is the most agile hot hatch in the market and even though it comes with a more soft-rounded approach compared to its predecessor, it can still offer you a thrilling driving experience. While it is not a flawless car, it definitely has a character of its own and that is something to admire in today’s automotive world.
Pricing / Warranty (Australia)
Base price (before on road costs): $44,990 for the manual and $47,490 for the EDC
Metallic / Mica Paint: $600 ($800 for Liquid Yellow/Tonic Orange)
Panoramic Sunroof: $1,990
Bose sound system: $500
Leather/Alcantara upholstery: $1,190
Drive Away Price: $50,000 – $53,000
Renault Australia offers a 3 year unlimited km warranty, up to 4 years of roadside assist (covering all Australia) and capped maintenance costs for the first 3 scheduled maintenance services. For more information, visit the official website here.
The Renault Megane IV R.S. 280 EDC is an appealing hot hatch that has the looks, the technology and the performance to compete among the best in its segment. In terms of everyday usability, equipment and refinement, it is a big improvement compared to its predecessor, while at the same time it doesn’t sacrifice much of its character as a driver’s car offering exceptional handling and enough power to put a smile on your face.
Hot Hatch Rating: 8,5/10
|Model||Renault Megane IV RS 280|
|Engine Displacement||1798 cm3|
|Fuel System||Direct Injection|
|Power (hp)||280 hp|
|Power (kw)||205 kw|
|Power (@rpm)||@6000 rpm|
|Torque (Nm)||390 Nm|
|Torque (@rpm)||@2400 – 5000 rpm|
|Top Speed (km/h)||255 km/h|
|Top Speed (mph)||158 mph|
|Fuel Consumption||6,9 lt/100km|
|CO2 (g/km)||155 g/km|
|Gearbox||6 AT / 6 MT|
|Weight||1450 kg / 1430 kg|
|Front Track||1615 mm|
|Rear Track||1596 mm|
|Boot Space||434 liters|
|Tire Size||245/40 R19|
|Front Brakes||355 mm Ventilated Discs|
|Rear Brakes||290 mm Ventilated Discs|