As good as new 2018 Renault Mégane RS from £23k
It’s hotter than the Côte d’azur but no longer quite as expensive, writes Mark Pearson
It may look to the untrained eye no more than a tarted-up Dynamique Nav version of the humble Renault Mégane, but keen motorists after a front-wheeldrive hot hatch love the RS, a car so rewarding and so thrilling that it’s the automotive equivalent of a lost weekend in Paris with Lily James.
This is the third-generation Mégane RS, and despite the emergence of several brilliant rivals in this class in the past few years, it’s still a terrific car and a great used buy. It’s five-door-only now, and the engine dropped in size from 2.0 to 1.8 litres for this version, but don’t worry: those rear doors simply make it more practical and, thanks to its large turbocharger, this car has more power than its RS 275 predecessor.
That power can be sent through a six-speed manual or dual-clutch automatic gearbox. You can have it in two different states of firmness, too: standard or Cup, the latter also featuring on the 300 Trophy model, where power is raised from the regular 276bhp to a mega 296bhp.
This 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. An even lighter, stripped-out Trophy-r version tops the RS price list.
Standard equipment on the RS 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 RS is a peach. It’s quick, with 0-62mph in just 5.7sec in the 300 Trophy, and it can 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. The Cup is even firmer and can jostle you around on giveand-take roads.
The RS steers faithfully and body control is top-notch. The handling is brilliant, the grip is sensational and the four-wheel steering is a revelation, making the car dart around with almost unseemly agility. It’s tremendous fun.
Inside, there are figure-hugging Recaro seats. Perceived quality is a little mixed, but there are plenty of sporting touches, and although the infotainment system isn’t the most modern or easiest to use, it can be bypassed via smartphone mirroring.
There’s a decent amount of space up front, and two adults will be fine in the back. The boot is a good size and well-shaped – useful for that trip to the Nürburgring.
Prices start at around £23,000 for a 2018 RS 280 model. Expect to fork out £25,000-£30,000 on a 300 Trophy or rather more than £50,000 for the stripped-out Trophy-r.