The Mégane RS has been with us for a few years now however, to spice things up a bit, Renault has given it a mild facelift and has added some new features.
Its distinctive two-door coupé-like body has remained unchanged but they have worked on the front and rear end of the car. At the front, there are new, more stylish headlights as on the less racy versions. There’s also a new front splitter, which has apparently drawn inspiration from F1 technology. The splitter still features daytime running lights, which do look tasteful. Some diehard fans, such as Autodealer editor, Sean Nurse, says the headlights make the car look softer and less aggressive. I tend to agree with him but I think the aggression has been left for the hardcore RS Trophy model. At the rear there is a new set of taillights; they look more modern and complement the front-end of the car, plus a nice chrome surround for the centre-mounted exhaust. The model also benefits from 18-inch anthracite grey RS alloy wheels, which do look rather good.
Inside the new RS Lux, lavish items such as leather sports seats and automatic headlights have been added as standard features. There’s even a TomTom/SatNav system as well as a touchscreen mounted on top of the dashboard. The infotainment toggle stick is still located on the lower centre console and is easy to use. There are some extra options available such as the rear park assist with rear camera, which will cost you about R5 000 and a glass roof, which does not open, that costs R8 000. The cabin is nice and the sports bucket seats might not be to everyone’s taste but they do offer fantastic support. Ease of entry and start is complemented by the hands-free key card.
Remember, this is a performance hatchback; it’s been designed to offer a blend of luxury and performance; after all, its main rivals are the Astra OPC, Ford Focus ST and the all mighty Golf GTI.
About that performance… the model I drove is known as the RS 265, being the number of horsepower and here in sunny South Africa, that translates to 195kW and 360Nm of torque. Expect to reach 100km/h in around six seconds. The Mégane RS is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged motor and power is sent to the front wheels via a brilliant six-speed manual gearbox.
There is something else that caught my attention within the cabin…a small little “RS Mode” button to the right of the steering wheel; push this and everything changes. The car tingles with excitement and the throttle becomes hyper sensitive. The exhaust note is more prominent and everything comes alive. I thrashed the car down a very wet and twisty mountain road and it behaved superbly.
I was left impressed and convinced. However, when it comes to the finer refinement details, there is no beating the Golf GTI. As far as what a well set-up, ready-to-race hot hatchback goes, the Mégane RS, in any guise, Lux, Cup or Trophy, takes the cake but when it comes to a practical, everyday fast hatchback then one might want to consider the Golf GTI. Thankfully though I don’t have the money to afford either, so my decision doesn’t count, but if I did have the money, and after driving the Mégane RS and realizing just how much of a proper sports car it is, the decision won’t be easy between the Mégane RS and Golf GTI. Wait! What about the Astra OPC and the Focus ST?