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New vs Used: Buy the new Renault Megane RS 280 or get a used BMW M135i

By Trent Giunco, 11 Jun 2019 Advice

New vs Used: Buy the new Renault Megane RS 280 or get a used BMW M135i

A clear-cut decision for some, but can the polarising new Frenchie overcome the venerable German?

2019 Renault Megane RS 280 EDC

“Everybody knows that Renault make the best hot hatches,” that’s how the initial Wheels review of the Renault Megane RS 280 started. While the French hot hatch has myriad positive attributes, that sentiment is, seemingly, no longer taken as fact. It’s safe to say that the new Renault Megane RS 280 hasn’t quite been welcomed with the rapturous applause the generation before it left with.

Still, for $47,490 you get a 205kW/390Nm, front-wheel-drive hot hatch with a pretty slick EDC (Efficient Dual-Clutch) automatic transmission. Opt for the manual and the price drops to $44,990.

But don’t do that. Call it sacrilege for a motoring title to say, but the auto is the better option, giving the RS more aural theatre and a higher sensation of speed. The six-speed manual’s gear change is a little lacklustre.

The third-generation RS is a bit of a victim of its previous success. Failing to beat itself is the Megane’s biggest undoing. Still, stop looking to the past and there’s heavily bolstered seats to sink into, menacing GT3-esque styling, a punchy 1.8-litre turbo four (shared with Alpine A110) and 4Control rear-wheel steering. With loads of grip the Megane is fast on track, plus extend the RS 280 to its limits and it truly comes alive.

2015 BMW M135i

The BMW has the right mix of brawn and talent to make it a true hot-hatch hero. And with the switch to four-cylinder power and all-wheel-drive, the time is nigh to get your hands on this unique package. Packing 240kW/450Nm from the N55 3.0-litre inline six, the rear-wheel-drive Bavarian is the epitome of bang for your bucks, while still retaining the badge cachet to impress the neighbours.

Despite only being a 2015 vintage, and with the LCI updates, the interior of the M135i can be a letdown for some and the rear-wheel-drive layout compromises space in the back. Unlike the Renault, which is generally praised for its exterior design, the 1 Series doesn’t enjoy the same reputation. It’s divisive – especially in the Wheels office.

 

Of course, you could also buy an M140i and enjoy the brilliant B58 straight six, but they’re harder to come by within the price parameters of this matchup. Be patient and search for the F20 LCI update with an optioned limited-slip diff (it was a $4400 premium when new). It’s not a deal-breaker if you don’t have the latter, but you’ll be glad you have it. Overall, the M135i is a hot-hatch package that’s hard to pass up.


Specs comparison

 

 2019 Renault Megane RS     2015 BMW M135i
Price (new) $47,490 $62,900
Engine 2.0L 4cyl turbo 3.0L 6cyl turbo
Output 205kW/390Nm 240kW/450Nm
Transmission 6spd dual-clutch 8spd auto
0-100km/h 5.8sec 4.9sec
Efficiency (combined)    7.5L/100km 7.5L/100km
Drivetrain FWD RWD
Doors 5 5
Seats 5 5
Wheel size 245/35 R19

225/40 ZR18 (f)

245/35 ZR18 (r)

Weight 1450kg 1525kg
Country of origin France Germany

Wheels staff picks


Trent Giunco
Staff Journalist
It has to be the M135i. It is rear-wheel drive, has a powerful turbo six and is as pragmatic as I’ll ever need a hot hatch to be. What a shame BMW is turning it into an all-wheel drive four-pot turbo for the next generation. While the styling somewhat falls into the ‘only a mother could love’ category, the driving experience certainly doesn’t. The N55 is a sweet unit and it surprises with just how fast it is on the run – plus, you get the added benefit of effortless torque whenever you need it. Paired with the eight-speed ZF auto it’s an absolute gem, but the six-speed manual is decent, too. Buy one before everyone else realises/remembers how good they are!

Andy Enright
Deputy Editor
This is a tough one. The heart says BMW but the head says Renault. For the road, I’d probably opt for the Megane with the softer Sport chassis and EDC transmission. This model also comes with an e-diff rather than the Torsen differential of the Cup version and although the e-diff might not be quite as fierce on track, it corrupts the steering far less on the road. Strangely, the steering of the rear-drive BMW is its Achilles heel, and I prefer the feedback through the wheel of the front-drive Renault. For what it’s worth, I also lean towards the more aggressive styling of the French car too. Throw in a factory warranty and I’m sold on the Meg.

Cameron Kirby
Staff Journalist
I will probably annoy our dear friend and contributor to Wheels, Byron Mathioudakis, with this admission, but I don’t really gel with French cars. Add to that the Renault Megane RS’s fall from grace in its latest generational change, and I have to take the BMW M135i here. The idea of rear-drive goodness in a compact hatch body is just too good to pass up. This isn’t to say the Megane RS is a bad car, quite the opposite, but I just can’t bring myself to go past a rear-drive turbocharged six-cylinder hatch.

 

Reckon we’ve got it right? Or are we way off the money (literally)? Find your best and let us know in the comments what you’d buy.