Tro­phy for top shelf

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Track Test - PETER BARN­WELL peter.barn­well@news.com.au

A strik­ing sports coupe on the road, Re­nault’s ag­gres­sive look­ing Me­gane RS275 Tro­phy is also pro­moted as a highly ef­fec­tive “track car’’. That means it’s per­fectly ca­pa­ble of stand­ing up to the rigours of hard driv­ing on a race­track and back­ing up for ev­ery­day tasks.

Mak­ers spruik sim­i­lar claims for quite a few cur­rent mod­els but the Re­nault stands out. Its pedi­gree is backed by Re­nault Sport (RS) which is re­spon­si­ble for nu­mer­ous F1 wins.

In the semi-mo­tor sport track day world, the Me­gane RS275 Tro­phy ($52,990) has a fur­ther claim — it’s the world’s fastest front-wheel drive pro­duc­tion car.

ON THE TRACK

We took the Tro­phy to a one­day event or­gan­ised on what is called a su­per sprint for­mat. In other words, not rac­ing against other ve­hi­cles but against the clock … with other ve­hi­cles on the track at the same time.

At Wake­field Park near Goul­burn the Me­gane showed im­pres­sive grip and an ab­sence of un­der­steer (front wheels push­ing wide) or tail-happy over­steer, thanks to the clever diff and other elec­tronic tricks.

The chas­sis feels rock-solid and there’s a de­cent amount of com­pli­ance in the sus­pen­sion to soak up rough sur­faces. Brakes are su­perb even af­ter cop­ping a ham­mer­ing and the Bridge­stone Poten­zas main­tain ex­cel­lent grip lap af­ter scorch­ing lap.

En­gine per­for­mance is strong with a bias to the midrange when it comes to ac­cel­er­a­tion. It’s a lazy driver’s car — all that grunt gets you out of cor­ners quickly and ef­fi­ciently even if you’re in a higher gear than you need.

There are mul­ti­ple drive modes. For the track, pre­s­e­lect full RS Race mode to get op­ti­mised en­gine out­put and steer­ing and throt­tle re­sponse. And af­ter the event, you can down­load cru­cial in­for­ma­tion about the car and your driv­ing, so there’s nowhere to hide.

SUR­PRIS­ING

The RS sur­prised other driv­ers at the track day, some with near race-tuned cars, dis­patch­ing many of them or stay­ing with the more fan­cied run­ners — re­mem­ber, this is a

road car, not a track spe­cial. Great fun!

The Tro­phy is the top model in the lo­cal Me­gane line-up. A stripped-out R ver­sion is on the way soon, a fur­ther 100kg lighter but lack­ing a rear seat.

EN­GINE

The car‘s 2.0-litre four-cylin­der turbo pro­duces, as the name sug­gests, 275 horse­power (or 201kW) and peak torque of 360Nm to pro­pel its 1376kg. The 0-100kmh sprint takes about 5.8 sec­onds but feels sharper than that. Av­er­age thirst is 7.5L/100km.

It’s not the quick­est off the mark by a long shot but the chas­sis is the defin­ing fea­ture, en­abling the Tro­phy to do what it does to per­fec­tion. The feel­ing is as­ton­ish­ing from any car, let alone a front-driver. Re­nault Sport tweaks pretty much ev­ery dy­namic as­pect of the Tro­phy.

Trick items in­clude big Brembo brakes and 19-inch al­loys. The ti­ta­nium ex­haust from mo­tor­cy­cle af­ter­mar­ket spe­cial­ist Akrapovic is su­per light and gives the Tro­phy a strik­ing bark with a rum­ble on throt­tle over­run — it looks su­per­cool, too, with a car­bon­fi­bre tailpipe.

The in­te­rior is equipped to luxury car stan­dard, the pair of skinny Re­caro sports seats with leather and al­can­tara in­serts match­ing the al­can­tara-clad steer­ing wheel.

The mul­ti­func­tion info read­out even reg­is­ters the de­gree of wheel spin up­front.

The Tro­phy‘s Euro5 emis­sions com­pli­ance man­dates en­gine stop-start. Its 65-35 weight dis­tri­bu­tion seems less than ideal but ac­tu­ally works.

Fuel in­jec­tion is mul­ti­point rather than di­rect in­jec­tion and sus­pen­sion is sim­ple MacPher­son strut front and tor­sion beam rear. Steer­ing is elec­tro­hy­draulic.

On pa­per, th­ese may cause you to doubt the Tro­phy’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties — but rest as­sured, it all works to per­fec­tion.

VER­DICT

Awe­some, whether on the road or on the track.

Barn-storm­ing: Carsguide’s man at the track day, left

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