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Renault makes a variety of very pleasant cars: compact hatches, family crossovers and an incredible sports hatch. They also have a racing pedigree in the motorsport world – F1 to be precise.
If you are a petrol head, the RS nameplate should be two initials you’re familiar with. For good reason – the Mègane RS is legendary. It competes in the elite club of the top high-performance hot hatches. With its own distractive character, the Mègane RS is pure in its engineering – less of a perfected machine than is authentically created by people who are passionate about cars for people who love to drive.
There is a new Mègane RS on the block. Launched late last year, the new model should be the best version yet. So, is it?
Viewed in its new exterior colour – Tonic Orange or the bold Sirius Yellow, the RS’ wide and low stance is highlighted. Visually, this is the best-looking hot-hatch within its class. It is head-turning and proud of it. I mean, let these pictures lament 1000 words of praise.
Like a rumble in the jungle, there is a bumblebee in the house. It doesn’t float like a butterfly nor does it sting like a bee. This baby is connected to the ground like an inseparable set of twins. Its connection to the tar is like that of a rollercoaster’s link to a steadfast rail.
Despite its front-wheel drive set up and powerful new 1.8-l turbocharged motor, which pushes out a dollop of power (205kW and 390Nm), the RS’ prodigious road manners aren’t compromised. Some of the RS’ competitors aren’t as refined in laying down their power via their front wheels.
The dynamic nature of the Mègane RS is enhanced with its 4Control four-wheel steering system. This allows for faster steering movements. The system allows the rear wheels to also turn, marginally, in accordance with the front. On the road, this translates into a thrilling driving experience. This exciting experience translates moderately through the steering wheel when compared to the competition.
The Mègane RS is offered in two model variants – either a 6-speed manual CUP model, which is sold with a firmer suspension set up or a softer sprung double-clutch 6-speed automatic. These two options target two similar yet different customers. The manual is for the hardcore driving enthusiast. Every sense is heightened in the CUP model. The automatic is for those who enjoy an adrenalin rush while containing their composure. Which would you pick? I’m too “mature” for the bone-chattering firm ride of the manual option. Speaking of manual gearboxes, I’m too “mature” to have to change gears in rush hour traffic. I’m guessing you know which of the two models I’d pick. Both are ridiculously quick – 0 to 100km/h in 5.8 seconds and hit 250 km/h.
Not just an outstanding and well-priced performance hatch, the Mègane RS is also practical. It has an easy-to-load boot that’s well-sized, space for four above-average adults, storage space and more. The cabin is very solidly put together. There is a mix of materials that give an overall impression of a classy space. The Alcantra RECARO seats are a highlight. The RS’ infotainment system is run via a touchscreen system. It looks good but its technical architecture takes a while getting used to. I prefer the functionality in its German rivals.
The tipping point for the Mègane RS is its compelling price. Both models are highly spec’d and sold at the same R589 900 price point. Consider that Golf GTI is similarly priced but less powerful. The Golf R which offers similar power to the RS is R684 400. Another close rival is the Honda Civic Type R that is priced at R699 900.
I ask you the question then – why not save yourself R100 000 and drive the best-looking hot-hatch that’s an exhilarating experience to enjoy?
Golf GTI/R, Audi S3 Sportback, Honda Civic Type R, M135i and Mercedes-AMG 35.
Service and warranty
As with Renault’s entire product range, the Renault Mègane models come standard with a 5-year/150 000km mechanical warranty, a 5-year/90 000km service plan (with service intervals at 15 000km intervals on the core range and 10 000km on R.S. models) and a 6-year anti-corrosion warranty.
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