What’s Hot: Incredible, high-precision cornering and handling; a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
What’s Not: Occasional torque steer under acceleration.
X-FACTOR: This is a car for genuine driving enthusiasts; brilliant to drive and striking on road.
Vehicle Style: Three-Door hot-hatch
Engine/trans: 201kW(275hp)/360Nm 2.0 litre 4cyl turbo | 6spd manual
Fuel Economy claimed: 7.5 l/100km | tested: 11.7 l/100km (at speed)
Rarely are cars that claim a ‘sports’ pedigree quite so polished at gripping the road as this phenomenal pocket rocket.
The new limited edition front-wheel drive Megane RS 275 Trophy is for people who like to drive fast.
But, of course, there are plenty of fast cars around. What sets this latest version of the Megane apart from other sports cars out there is the precise manner in which you can drive it.
There are very few hot hatches on planet earth with a more accurate and self-assured steering rack and chassis as this.
Cornering at significant speed is astoundingly good in the Trophy thanks to its highly acclaimed Cup chassis, and its grip on the road is vice-like.
And shifting through the gears is firm but precise; the harder and quicker you work the stick, the easier it feels.
Braking is incredibly strong and stable even under heavy deceleration into sharp corners at speed, and it’s under these conditions that the tight chassis really makes the Megane feel rock solid.
I have rarely enjoyed a drive so much as the two days I spent behind the wheel of this Renault around Tassie. The Megane RS 275 Trophy is fast, exciting to drive and incredibly polished.
But it’s a sports car through and through. There are compromises; but none of them relate to the driving experience.
You don’t buy this car to pick up the kids - although possibly only they will fit in the cramped rear seat - or go shopping, or travelling long distances on a daily commute.
No, you buy this car if you want to enjoy the exhilaration of performance motoring - just you, the car and the road ahead.
And from the point of view of exclusivity, you’re unlikely to see another Megane RS 275 Trophy on the road as there are only 100 arriving in Australia, each one replete with its own numbered door sills.
So if you’re thinking of getting one of these bespoke Renaults you might want to put your skates on.
- Fantastic, torso-hugging, height adjustable leather and Alcantara Recaro bucket seats with red contrast stitching.
- Red contrast stitching on the rear bench seat, and red seat belts all around.
- Alcantara steering wheel trim and hand brake bellow.
- Zamac gear lever knob.
- Aluminium accelerator, brake and clutch pedals.
- R-Link Enhanced Satellite Navigation system with 7-inch touchscreen.
The interior of the Megane RS 275 Trophy is dominated by its striking Recaro front seats and red seat belts.
Once you’re in - having negotiated your way up and over the very firm, high-sided bolsters of the bucket seats - you’re presented with a couple of obvious details: the alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and the oddly reclined speedometer and rev counter.
The steering wheel, with its contrast stitching, looks and feels great; the angle of the speedo not so good. Personally I thought the dashboard meters looked a little ho-hum overall, but this was a small gripe.
There’s a slightly odd look to the dash: the CD player and independent climate controls ride quite low, while the deeply recessed 7-inch R-Link multi-functional touch-screen is just out of easy reach from the driving position - though perhaps this is a good thing.
The touchscreen displays a wide variety of real-time information pertaining to the car’s operational status: everything from power, torque, air, oil and water temperatures, to turbo pressure, throttle opening, brake pressure and steering-wheel angle.
The RS Monitor 2.0 software is so more-ish and well presented, in fact, you could spend more time watching it than the road ahead.
But of course Renault has thought of this, adding what’s known as ‘RS Replay’ to the Monitor software: an analysis tool that captures all the data collected by the car’s sensors, which can then be transferred via USB to Renault’s website (www.renaultsport.com/rshttp://www.renaultsport.com/rsreplayreplay).
Log in, and you can then relive your last drive on a computer screen, with all driving parameters displayed dynamically.
Once you’re used to the layout, the Trophy’s interior styling quickly grows on you. It’s easy on the eye; modest yet strongly suggestive of what lurks beneath.
The Recaro seats are comfortable enough yet very firm and well capable of locking you into the driving position.
The steering column is height and reach adjustable, although this aspect of the car could have done with a touch more close reach. (I normally like the steering wheel at a reasonable arm’s length, but even I had to pull it towards me to its maximum throw).
ON THE ROAD
- 275hp, 201kW/360Nm turbocharged 2.0 litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine, with a 6-speed manual and limited slip differential.
- MacPherson type front suspension with pressed aluminium lower wishbone.
- Rear suspension: Torsion beam axle.
- Brakes: front, Brembo 4-piston callipers - ventilated discs; rear, solid discs.
- Maximum speed: 255km/h
Driving the Megane RS 275 Trophy Limited Edition is what this car is all about. Despite its hidden sophistication and refinement, the Trophy in essence feels very simple.
As soon as you hit the start button and the Megane gently fires to life, you will immediately hear that this car means business.
That's thanks in no small part to its custom-built titanium Akrapovi? exhaust system, the note of which is well-defined and impressive, especially on-road at high revs.
Driving through Tassie’s northern countryside in the Megane proved just how powerful its tweaked turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine really is.
It’s got great torque even at modest revs, which minimises the need for endless gear changes up the steep winding hills of the Targa route.
The car’s maximum torque (360Nm) is available across a broad rev-band, from 3000 to 5000rpm, and, while the new motor is only more powerful by a modest 10hp thanks to some tweaks to the camshaft angle variator and spark advance, the car feels faster than the Megane 265 (which we also drove).
It’s not lightning fast, but it is quick, and what it might lack in sheer acceleration it more than makes up for in cornering. The car is capable of 0-100 in six seconds flat.
The steering and braking are even more impressive. The car is incredibly reactive to your commands; the slightest inclination of the wheel enough to turn it powerfully into tight corners with certainty and confidence.
But despite this precision, the Megane 275 Trophy never feels twitchy or scattered, but rather, in tune with your commands. I could imagine that after getting to know this car well, the Trophy would feel like a mind reader.
Suspension is tighter than a rusted on nut, but again, this only makes you feel more confident behind the wheel. Wheels and tyres are 19-inch alloys on 235/35 ZR19 Bridgestones.
Overall, the Megane RS 275 Trophy Limited Edition is a pleasure to drive, and thrilling around tight corners. It’s the sort of car you want to push, not fear pushing, and everything about the handling is highly reactionary and precise.
There are very few four-cylinder cars that could match the Megane around winding backroads, and for the asking price, this is one hell of a sportscar.
Safety features: Driver and front passenger airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags, front and rear curtain airbags.
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake Assist (EBA), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), and...
- Driver seat belt warning light and tone.
- One-touch door locking.
- Two 3-point front seatbelts with pre-tensioner and load limiter.
- Three 3-point rear seatbelts.
- 3 child seat anchorage points for rear seats.
- Three height adjustable rear headrests.
- Cruise control with speed limiter.
- Turn indicator lights on door mirrors.
- Reversing Camera.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
This is a bespoke sports car, the focus of which is all about the exhilaration of driving it.
For the lucky few who will get to own one of these ‘liquid yellow’ (or white) four-cylinder hot hatches, there will no doubt be years of driving pleasure on the horizon.
I can only imagine how good the driving experience will get once you’re tuned into the car’s handling abilities.
There are only 100 Megane RS Trophies arriving in Australia. I suspect they will go faster than the car itself.