Remember when the Renault Clio RS was replaced by an all-new model a few years back? And remember how it went from three doors to five, from a rorty big-inch engine to a smaller one (with a turbo, admittedly)? And remember when it changed from a manual tranny to a DCT-only package and just generally became softer and more cuddly?
This track review was carried out in conjunction with MOTOR's Bang For Your Bucks 2019
Well, there were certainly fears that similar changes (more doors, smaller donk, auto option) to the new 2019 Renault Megane RS might have the same net effect. Needn’t have bothered worrying.
For a start, the smaller 1.8-litre engine is a proper cracker with more grunt than ever before, as well as having the sort of top-end reach that not all modern turbo-mills get right. Oh, and if you specify the Cup as ours is here, you get to shift your own gears like in any other proper car.
The four-wheel steering is a big leg-up, too, although would it be churlish to suggest that on the greasy, wet Winton hotmix, the Megane RS was almost too keen to turn in? In the dry, though, it’s amazing how you can use all that extra steering to back the bugger into corners and get back on the noise quick-smart without it going Pete Tong.
That’s partly down to the stiffer springs and lower ride height but also the mechanical diff that has kept the RS badge at the cutting edge of tail-dragger dynamics. And yet it finished no higher than eighth. What’s going on?
PCOTY 2019: Megane RS280
Well, like a lot of other Renaults over the years, the Megane RS’s interior lets it down a fraction. Okay, so the conventional park-brake is a breath of fresh and the front seats themselves are tremendously good.
But the dashboard layout seems a bit downmarket compared to what other manufacturers are coming up with and the centre stack is just a weird collection of shapes to many eyes. While access to the rear seat is now better than ever thanks to those extra doors, the rear-seat space itself is a bit on the tight side.
And while we old blokes rejoice when ever we stomp on a clutch pedal, the Renault’s man-machine interface is a bit off colour. For a start, the clutch take-up point seems a bit vague and the gearshift itself can feel a tad sticky.
Throw in the fact that the horizontal gate feels too far forward and suddenly the RS starts to feel a bit like trying to carry a full serving tray with offset handles.
Honestly, you can start to think that maybe the engine is the best bit about the Megane RS Cup and while it’s not (the chassis deserves at least equal billing) the overall impression is definitely compromised by those ergonomic and packaging factors. Less flawed than previous Renaults, to be sure, but deffo not perfect.
Fun need not come at a price with Bang For Your Bucks 2019
Renault Megane RS280 Cup BFYB 2019 Results - 8th place
0-400m: 14.22sec @ 166.02km/h
Bang Index: 80.7
Bucks Index: 106.4
BFYB Index: 93.5
Bang For Your Bucks 2019 Judges' Comments
Campbell - 9th
“Undoubtedly fast but I’m liking the MkIV Megane RS a little bit less every time I drive one. Bummer.”
Cordony - =3rd
“Less personality, more speed and focus.”
Morley - 9th
“If I could just feel a little more like I was calling the shots.”
Scott Newman - 8th
”Like a Big Mac without the special sauce. Ingredients are there, but not quite right.”
Luffy - 7th
“It was certainly the most lively of the front-drive cars in the wet; it’s really easy to trail brake and lose the rear on entry. It’s a difficult car to drive on the limit in the wet. It had really bad torque steer on exit and lacked the punch and refinement of the Type R. It’s more about being different for the sake of being different.”
2019 RENAULT MEGANE RS280 CUP SPECS
BODY: 5-door, 5-seat hatch
ENGINE: 1798cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo
BORE/STROKE: 79.7 x 90.1mm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 9.9:1
POWER: 205kW @ 6000rpm
TORQUE: 390Nm @ 2400-4800rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
SUSPENSION: dual-axis struts, coil springs, dampers, roll bar (f); torsion beam, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r)
BRAKES: 355mm ventilated discs, 6-piston calipers (f); 290mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r)
WHEELS: 19.0 x 9.0-inch (f/r)
TYRES: Bridgestone Potenza S001, 235/35 R19 (f/r)
Bang For Your Bucks 2019
The Contenders, Judges & Criteria
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