Kick-RS: Renault Megane RS Trophy Review

Angry, fast, sharp, loud and orange. These are just some of the words one could use to describe the new Renault Megane RS Trophy. The Megane RS Trophy is the latest in a long line of Renault Hot Hatches which can be traced back to those original Gallic pocket rockets, the 5 Turbo and Clio V6.

While you would be forgiven at first glance for thinking the RS Trophy was any different from the Megane RS280 it replaces, rest assured this latest sequel to the Megane RS saga sports a number of changes which only adds to what was already an epic hot hatch cocktail.

The biggest change comes from within. The 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder engine now produces 300hp. Not so long ago, the idea of 300hp being put to pavement via the front wheels was regarded by in-house engineering departments of most mainstream manufacturers as completely bonkers. A figure like that was best left to aftermarket tuners with the nouse to make the fastest FWD hatches of the time even faster.

Anyway, fast forward to today and 300hp seems like just the right amount of grunt to send through a FWD system. The Megane’s turbo four pot also churns out a meaty 420Nm which is 40Nm more than before. This power and torque are sent to all four wheels via Renault’s proven 4CONTROL AWD system via a seven-speed paddle shift dual clutch transmission.

The 4CONTROL system also incorporates four-wheel steering and a Torsen limited slip mechanical diff. The latter of course is kind of essential for a FWD hatch putting out this kind of power. Naturally you also get Renault’s well sorted Cup chassis, but more on how this stacks up in a bit. Renault claim 8.0l/100km combined  and 182g/km of C02 as well.

As mentioned before, the RS Trophy doesn’t look a great deal different to the RS280 but there are subtle changes like a new set of 19-inch Jerez Alloys with red accents housing red brake calipers and a revised taillight cluster. What certainly isn’t subtle is the fact my test car was painted in Tonic Orange which is probably one of the most vibrant and eye-catching colour schemes I have ever seen on a hot hatch.

Hop inside and drop down into those Alcantara clad RS semi-bucket seats. These are still just as supportive and buttock-hugging as before, allowing you to find your optimum driving position, which doesn’t take long.

The Megane RS Trophy certainly much easier to suss out from an ergonomics point of view. The new 9.3-inch infotainment system is much easier to get your head around and very responsive, you get all the same fruit as before including Sat Nav, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Nappa Leather, dual zone climate control, reversing camera, parking sensors all around, heated seats, auto headlights and wipers.

The air condition digits are now housed within the toggle switches and switching between drive modes can be done by a single button instead of having to faff around constantly with the infotainment system. However, you can still faff away till your hearts content with your own individual preferences to each drive mode from within the system itself. Engine, shifts, suspension, noise, steering, all these can be changed to be racier or not depending on your tastes.

Ahead of you sits a very clear revised instrument cluster which now features speedometer and rev counter on either side of each other in normal drive modes Save and MySafe. This changes to a single rev counter in Sport and a digital rev bar in Race mode. You also get a tiny RS Trophy symbol which flashes its indicators when you indicate left or right, which is a bit cute.

While never intended to be a family mover, the RS Trophy can still swallow up two average sized adults well enough, and a week’s shop and then some will happily fit in the 434L boot.

Press start and that turbo four pot wakes up to quite a loud burble. The Megane RS Trophy is by no means subtle. Each flex or your right foot gives a throaty snarl akin to angry terrier who has been off his meds for a week.

Select drive and you are off with that terrier exhaust providing the soundtrack. As you may expect, many undulations and bumps in the road can be felt. Then again, you didn’t buy an RS Megane for the softness of its ride, did you? Actually, in the big scheme of things, its not too bad. The old RS265 Megane of 2011 featured a bone shaking ride so in comparison, the new RS Trophy could be likened to a regular hatch on eco tyres.

You can make mincemeat of slow-moving urban traffic thanks to pin sharp steering. In fact, the steering is so good, its almost telepathic. You just think about changing lanes or going around a corner, and you have done it. Renault’s 4CONTROL four-wheel-steer system is pretty darn impressive too, giving a tiny turning circle.

Leaving built up areas and onto your favourite bit of winding bitumen, which in my case happens to be that classic petrolhead’s haunt of Christchurch, the Port Hills Summit Road, and the serious fun begins. Sport mode increases the exhaust noise and disables the stop/start, thank goodness. Flicking up and down on each shift paddle is so satisfying and each lift of the throttle gives you crackle like a far-off battlefield.

Turbo boost builds at 2,000rpm before going completely nuts right the way to 6500rpm. In that power zone, you can reach 100km/h from a standstill in 5.7 seconds. Yes, there are other hot hatches which are quicker, but this somehow feels more engaging and you feel more involved in the process.

Shift over to Race mode and this engagement reaches new heights. The kiddie gloves are off as the traction control is disabled. In Race mode it feels raw and that Cup chassis coupled with the grip from those Bridgestone Potenza tyres means you can corner at a phenomenal rate. The term go-kart could almost define this car.

Whether hard on the anchors or hurling into bends with almost carefree abandon, the Megane RS Trophy is seriously fun bit of kit. Plus, it has a certain Joi De Vivre which is often missing from others in this segment.

The Renault Megane RS Trophy retails at $68,990 plus ORC which makes it a more affordable prospect compared to its German rivals. Some might tout it to be a little too eccentric or even not refined enough, but those with a penchant for smiles per hour, could certainly do a lot worse than what is quite possibly the most exciting hot Renault in years.

RATING: 8.5/10

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