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

Autocar - - THIS WEEK -

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.