You know the Megane, right? Well, this is that humble Renault on speed, literally.
The hot hatch landscape has changed significantly since the Megane RS was last available. It was pulled off-sale around the turn of the decade when Renault drastically scrapped half of their range following the global financial crisis.
These days though, there’s the Honda Civic Type R, VW Golf GTI and SEAT Leon Cupra R; the Megane RS will battle these for the right to be named the best front-wheel drive hot hatch around.
Based on the regular five-door hatchback, it cranks everything up to 11 to be one of the year’s most anticipated cars and one of few hot hatches coming in 2018.
So is it quick?
Yeah, you could say that.
With 276bhp at its disposal, it has more power than the Golf GTI, but not as much as the Leon Cupra R or the Civic Type R.
Nonetheless, it’s enough grunt to race up to 62mph in 5.8 seconds, which is the same as the SEAT and a tenth of a second behind the Honda.
What’s under the bonnet?
A revised version of the 1.8-litre four-cylinder unit that debuted in the Alpine A110. Renault reckons it is the most powerful 1.8-litre engine in the world, and who are we to argue?
It comes linked to a six-speed manual or a six-speed dual-clutch auto, depending on your preference, although the auto isn’t said to be much cop…
Anything else special or different about it?
Its 4CONTROL four-wheel steering system is unique for its class. The system has been designed to ensure stability at high speeds and agility at low speeds. When pestering the upper reaches of the speedo, the front and rear wheels turn in the same direction, limited to a one degree angle for the rear wheels. Meanwhile at low speeds, the front and rear wheels turn in opposite directions up to a maximum angle of 2.7 degrees.
There are also two types of chassis available: sport and cup. The former provides easy sporty driving with best-in-class efficiency, whilst the cup chassis offers greater sports performance for track and fast road use.
How’s it look inside?
We hope you like orange – much of the interior has been Tangoed with many elements painted in a shade that Renault calls ‘volcanic orange’.
Colour aside, you’ll find sports front seats with built-in headrests, two choices of upholstery: carbon grey weaved fabric or Alcantara, red top-stitching in a carbon grey trim, aluminium pedals and a specially-designed gearshift lever.
All these changes have been made to strike the best balance between everyday comfort and the kind of support required for track days.
What have the reviews been like?
Tres bon. Evo Magazine was very fond, awarding it 4.5 stars, praising its sharp and engaging handling, strong performance and excellent damping.
The only sour points of note were the EDC auto gearbox and the cabin’s fussy 12.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, but when have French electronics not been bobbins?
So is it a class-leader?
The previous Megane RS was loved by many a petrolhead and there’s a lot of pressure on this to be just as good if not better. Initial reactions suggest Renault have done an admirable job and it’s certainly amongst the best cars in its segment.
When can I have one?
How much one would set you back hasn’t been confirmed yet, but prices should start from around £28,000, while opting for the auto is likely to add another £1,750 to the cost.