The Renault Megane RS is still here, in case you were wondering.
You may have let it slip your mind in recent times, because there’s been a lot of action in the hot hatch scene with the release of the new-generation Ford Focus ST, a fond farewell to the VW Golf R, and consistent talk of the upcoming Toyota Corolla GR hot hatch.
The Megane RS is more than just ‘here’, though. The RenaultSport Megane hatch range has expanded in recent times, and we’ve just spent some time with the Trophy model which first arrived in Australia late in 2019.
It is certainly keeping its presence known in 2020 Renault Megane RS Trophy spec, which represents the most powerful and fastest version of the standard model range before you get to the rip-snorting (and eye-wateringly expensive) Trophy R.
So what’s it like? Read on and you’ll find out all about it.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 7/10
The Renault Megane RS Trophy has a list price of $52,990 for the six-speed manual, or $55,900 for the six-speed dual-clutch auto model, as tested here. Those costs are RRP/MSRP, and don't include on-roads.
Standard equipment for this range-topping ‘regular’ RS model includes 19-inch ‘Jerez’ alloy wheels with Bridgestone Potenza S001 tyres, an active valve exhaust system, Brembo brakes, LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, rear fog lights, front/rear/side parking sensors, semi-autonomous parking system, reversing camera, auto locking, smart key card and push-button start, and steering column-mounted paddle shifters.
Standard equipment includes 19-inch ‘Jerez’ alloy wheels with Bridgestone Potenza S001 tyres.
There’s also auto headlights, auto wipers, dual zone climate control, an auto dimming rearview mirror, heated front seats with manual adjustment, a nine-speaker Bose sound system with subwoofer and amplifier, an 8.7-inch touchscreen media system with aux port, 2x USB ports, Bluetooth phone and audio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat nav, the brand’s RS Monitor track timing software, and a 7.0-inch TFT colour screen for the driver with configurable modes and digital speedo.
You can find a run down of the safety tech and equipment fitted in the safety section below.
Options available include an electric sunroof ($1990), and there is also the choice of a few metallic paint colours: Diamond Black and Pearl White metallic are both $800, while the Signature Metallic Paint colours - Liquid Yellow and Orange Tonic as you see here - are $1000. Only Glacier White will cost you no extra.
Wondering where it sits among its closest rivals? If you’re thinking about a Ford Focus ST (from $44,690 - manual or auto), Hyundai i30 N (from $41,400 - manual only), the outgoing VW Golf GTI (from $46,690 - auto only), or the mighty Honda Civic Type R (from $51,990 - manual only) the Megane RS Trophy is expensive. Only the VW Golf R Final Edition ($57,990 - auto only) is dearer… unless you’re thinking of comparing to the likes of a Mercedes-AMG A35 ($69,300).
Is there anything interesting about its design? 8/10
The Megane RS Trophy’s dimensions don’t really communicate just how chunky it really is. At 4364mm long on a 2670mm wheelbase, 1875mm wide and 1435mm tall, it is pretty conventional in terms of size for the segment.
The Megane RS Trophy’s measures at 4364mm long on a 2670mm wheelbase, 1875mm wide and 1435mm tall.
But it packs a lot of style into that size. I for one love those broad hipped wheel-arches, the signature LED headlights and chequered flag lighting signature at the bottom of the bumper, and the bright, eye-catching colours available really just ram the message home that this isn’t your average Megane.
The RS Trophy has LED headlights and signature chequered flag lighting at the bottom of the bumper.
I could happily leave behind the red flecks on the wheels, which look a bit too blingy and not quite ‘lightweight racing-spec’ to me. But they obviously appeal to a certain buyer - maybe someone who wants a bit more drive-by flair, as opposed to track-day talking points.
The Trophy model builds upon the Cup variant, using the same chassis and hardware under the skin, and therefore running the brand’s 4Control four-wheel steering and a mechanical Torsen limited slip diff. More on that in the driving section below.
The exterior of the RS Trophy features broad hipped wheel-arches.
Exterior design and styling are one thing - but you probably spend more time sitting inside your car than just admiring it from a distance. How does the interior of the RS Trophy stack up? Check out the interior images to make up your own mind.
The soft plastics on the dashboard are a nice touch, but the lower plastics are quite hard and not very pleasant.
There are shallow cupholders between the seats.
The steering wheel is part-Nappa leather, part-Alcantara.
How practical is the space inside? 7/10
The Megane RS Trophy’s cabin carries over some of the design cues from the exterior. It looks and feels like a hot hatch should.
There’s a lovely part-Nappa leather, part-Alcantara steering wheel with paddle shifters and a ‘centre line’ marker - but some may lament the lack of a flat-bottom to the wheel, which is a current trend in the “trust me I’m actually very sporty” breed of cars.
The manually adjustable seats are very supportive though they are a bit firm, so those wishing for ultimate comfort over long distance trips might be left wanting. But there is good adjustment to the seats, and they’re heated, too.
There are some nice design elements to the cabin.
There are some nice elements to the cabin including soft plastics on the dashboard, but the lower plastics - below the eye-line - are quite hard and not very pleasant. However, the inclusion of ambient lighting does distract from that, and add a bit of flair to the cabin.
The portrait-style media screen is fine most of the time, though it does take some learning. The menus aren’t as intuitive as you might hope, with a mix of on-screen buttons and off-screen touchpad-style controls that can be difficult to hit when you’re driving. We also had a couple of instances of glitching while using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
The 8.7-inch portrait-style media screen is fine most of the time, though it does take some learning.
Storage is okay. There are shallow cupholders between the seats, a covered centre console bin, as well as a storage section in front of the gear selector that’s big enough for a wallet and phone, and bottle holders in the doors.
In the rear seat there’s enough space for someone my size (182cm) to sit behind their own driving position, albeit with limited knee room and toe room. Headroom is good, and there are dual ISOFIX child-seat anchor points and three top-tethers for baby seats.
The rear seating is spacious enough, albeit with limited knee room and toe room.
You’ll find a pair of small door pockets, two map pockets, and rear-seat directional air vents, which is nice. There’s a flip-down arm-rest with cupholders, too, and unlike some other high-price hatches with ambient lighting up front, the Megane gets LED light strips on its rear doors, too.
Luggage capacity is claimed at a healthy 434 litres.
The car fit all three CarsGuide suitcases (124L, 95L and 36L) with room to spare.
The boot space is good in the Megane RS Trophy, with luggage capacity claimed at a healthy 434 litres. On test, the car fit all three CarsGuide suitcases (124L, 95L and 36L) with room to spare. Speaking of spare (ahem), there isn’t one: it comes with a repair kit and tyre pressure monitoring, but no spare wheel of any kind.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission? 9/10
Engine specs matter if you’re talking about performance hatchbacks, and the Megane RS Trophy is no exception.
It has a 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that punches hard for its size, with 221kW of power (at 6000rpm) and 420Nm of torque (at 3200rpm). That’s for the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, as was fitted to our test car. If you buy the six-speed manual, you miss out on a bit of grunt - it has 400Nm (at 3200rpm) and the same peak power.
The Megane RS Trophy has a 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine that punches hard for its size.
In auto spec the RS Trophy “300” offers higher figure vs the Sport and Cup “280” models (205kW/390Nm), and more engine performance per litre of capacity than the Focus ST (2.3-litre: 206kW/420Nm), Golf GTI (2.0-litre: 180kW/370Nm; TCR 2.0-litre: 213kW/400Nm), and even the Golf R (2.0-litre: 213kW/380Nm).
All Megane RS models are front-wheel drive (FWD/2WD) and no Megane RS is all-wheel drive (AWD). The Trophy and Cup models both get 4Control four-wheel steering, which is an interesting aspect of the drive experience. More on that below.
There are multiple drive modes to choose from, including Comfort, Neutral, Sport, Race and the configurable Perso mode. These can alter engine, transmission, throttle, traction control, exhaust noise, fake engine sound and steering sharpness - but not suspension, because the dampers aren’t adaptive units.
How much fuel does it consume? 6/10
The claimed official combined fuel consumption for the Megane RS Trophy is 8.0 litres per 100 kilometres. That’s for the EDC auto model as tested. The manual is said to use 8.3L/100km.
You might achieve that if you drive gently, though over my testing - which incorporated hundreds of kilometres of highway and country road driving, as well as a few spirited stints and some urban snarls - I saw a return of 10.8L/100km at the pump.
The Megane RS requires 98RON premium unleaded, and the fuel tank capacity is 50 litres.
What's it like to drive? 7/10
The Megane RS Trophy has the ingredients to be an all-time legendary hot hatch, but they don’t work together well enough for it to be a truly great car to drive.
That is, they don’t work together on public roads. I didn’t get a chance to sample the RS Trophy at the track, and I’m sure that may well alter some of my opinions. But this was a review focused around everyday driving first and foremost, because - unless you’ve got quite a fleet of cars - you’ll be spending a lot of time in mundane motoring in your Megane RS, too.
Other hot hatches in the segment manage to combine big power and torque with immense traction and steering prowess. The Megane RS used to, as well.
The Megane RS Trophy has the ingredients to be an all-time legendary hot hatch.
But this new version seemingly has some issues harnessing the grunt, and the 4Control four-wheel steering system simply isn’t as rewarding as it should be.
I had several instances where the traction on slippery surfaces was lacking, while even in the dry I noticed distinct torque steer and the Bridgestone tyres struggled to cope under hard acceleration. That’s despite the fact the Trophy gets a mechanical LSD.
Further, that four-wheel steering actually makes it pretty hard to judge the behaviour of the car at times, with an artificial feel to it that just doesn’t do it justice. There will be some who say that the four-wheel steering - which can angle in the rear tyres to help you pivot in corners more adeptly - is excellent. But I’m not one of them. I really found it hard to predict this car’s behaviour. I never really gelled with it.
At the very least there’s a non-interventional lane keeping assist system, which emits a pulsing sound through the speakers rather than actively vibrating or adjusting the steering.
The ride is unapologetic in its firmness – although, if you’re across the history of RS Megane models, that is to be expected for a Trophy chassis. It can be tiring on longer road trips especially if the surface isn’t great.
While it is extremely fast in a straight line - 0-100km/h is claimed at just 5.7 seconds - it wasn’t as quick through corners as I was expecting it might be, and that comes down to its four-wheel steering mostly, along with a lack of usable traction at times. It simply isn’t as connected to the road as the previous RSs have been.
It was also a bit laggy then lurchy at lower speeds when taking off from a standstill, such is the nature of the dual-clutch in stop-start situations.
To put it bluntly, I didn’t enjoy this car anywhere near as much as I thought I might. It just isn’t as pure a driving machine as I’ve come to expect from the RS brand. Perhaps I should aim to try it on a track!
Warranty & Safety Rating
5 years / unlimited km
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 7/10
The Renault Megane has not been awarded an ANCAP crash test rating, but the regular (non-RS) model scored five stars against EuroNCAP criteria back in 2015.
Missing is rear cross-traffic alert, front cross-traffic alert, rear AEB, pedestrian detection and cyclist detection.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 7/10
The Renault Megane RS range is covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, which adds some peace of mind for owners.
Further, the service intervals are generous, at 12 months/20,000km - though the brand states the Megane RS is actually “subject to adaptive servicing requirements” as the oil condition sensor may trigger a service check requirement prior to the standard intervals.
Unlike other Renault models with a five-year capped price servicing plan, the Megane RS is only covered for three years/60,000km. The service costs for the EDC dual-clutch auto models are higher than the manual versions, due to replacement transmission oil being needed (adding $400 to the first service).
The costs for the first three services are: $799 (12 months/20,000km); $299 (24 months/40,000km); $399 (36 months/60,000km). Consumables beyond those service intervals include: every 24 months or 20,000km - air filter replacement ($49) and pollen filter replacement ($63); every 48 months or 60,000km - accessory belt replacement ($306). Spark plugs are included at no cost, due every 36 months/60,000km.
The car is backed for up to four years of roadside assistance when serviced within the Renault dealership/service network.
If the Renault Megane RS Trophy is your dream car let me say this: there’s no overarching reason that I’d say you shouldn’t go ahead and buy it.
But with so much amazing competition in this part of the market, it’s hard to put it ahead of its rivals. And it’s going to be even harder for it to stay high on the contenders list as more new metal arrives in the coming years.