Me­gane Re­naultS­port

WE SAY: RE­NAULT SAVES YOU THE EF­FORT OF TICK­ING THE BOXES

Top Gear (UK) - - CONTENTS - TOM FORD

Take one Re­nault Me­gane RS, add all the good bits of the op­tions list, a fruitier ex­haust and power bump to 296-ish (up 20bhp) thanks to a new ce­ramic-ball-bear­ing turbo, and you have the Tro­phy. Ba­si­cally a handy ag­gre­ga­tion of RS good­ness with­out all the box-tick­ing.

For four grand more than the stock 280, you get the Cup chas­sis (usu­ally a £1,500 op­tion), which in­cludes stiffer springs (30 per cent), dampers (25 per cent) and anti-roll bars (10 per cent), the lighter bi-ma­te­rial brak­ing sys­tem (saving nearly 2kg per cor­ner and usu­ally £900), 19in wheels (a £950 op­tion) and some other de­sir­able bits. Then there are op­tional Tro­physpe­cific items like some even lighter rims and stick­ier tyres, and a rather lovely set of Al­can­taraswathed sports seats. It sounds like a de­cently thought-out range-top­per.

Im­me­di­ate re­ac­tions are that it looks good, pur­pose­ful and mus­cu­lar with­out be­ing too car­i­ca­ture, and that the in­te­rior is pleas­ant enough. It coughs up a fruity sonic hair­ball on start-up, feels chunky from the off, sounds amus­ing through the gears. It also twitches into a tight cor­ner like a house­fly, short, sharp and ag­gres­sive, quick steer­ing ac­cen­tu­ated by the 4Con­trol all-wheel steer and giv­ing the im­pres­sion of a car with a much shorter wheel­base.

Lift hard with the front wheels turned even the slight­est de­gree, and the car – at least in Race on a damp race­track – will at­tempt to act like a late Eight­ies hot hatch and en­ter a cor­ner bum­first, although the ini­tial shock of such easy over­steer is eas­ily soothed by re­ac­tive steer­ing. Quick im­pres­sions might leave you feel­ing that it doesn’t feel par­tic­u­larly nat­u­ral, but re­ally you just need to drive it a bit more: ex­po­sure eases the fear that you’re about to lift-off di­rectly into a ditch.

On the road, it’s a dif­fer­ent story; the Tro­phy rows along quite hap­pily in Sport, even on pretty abrupt sur­faces, soak­ing away the worst ex­cesses. It’s not a magic car­pet – you never for­get this is a car with in­ten­tions, but nei­ther will it blur vi­sion or rat­tle teeth. The 6spd man­ual ’box is fine, with a short but slightly un­sat­is­fy­ing ac­tion that feels as if all the mov­ing parts are made of plas­tic. Less ri­fle bolt, more like rack­ing the slide on a Nerf gun. Say­ing that, it’s fast, fun and well sorted. The only prob­lem is that this is a re­ally nice hot hatch in a sec­tor full of greats. With the Golf R, Civic Type R and Hyundai i30N in the world, you’d have to re­ally like the way the Re­nault feels to ig­nore the com­pe­ti­tion.

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