New car review: Renault Megane RS265 TrophyMotor News New Car Reviews Motor Reviews
Renault Megane RS265 Trophy
Renault Megane RS265 Trophy
- III X95
- Badge Description
- Sport 265
- Engine Configuration Description
- Gear Num
- Build Country Origin Description
- Fuel Type Description
- Petrol - Premium ULP
- Drive Description
- Front Wheel Drive
- Visual excitement
- Hot performance
- Hatchback practicality
- Firm ride
- Fiddly switches
- Poor instruments
- Rear visibility
They French may not have invented the hot hatch (we'll score that one to Germany and the VW Golf GTi) but as a country, it has certainly embraced the concept wholeheartedly. Renault, Peugeot and to a lesser extent Citroen have for decades been pumping out pumped-up three- and five-doors, turning shopping trolleys into sports cars with a touch of practicality.
Latest in Renault's hot-hatch dynasty is a revamped version of the Megane RS. Now called the RS265 to celebrate an added 15 horsepower over the outgoing RS250 it has, in metric-speak, about 11kW more power than before.
The extra urge is supplemented by a redesigned front-end, the usual retuned suspension and some interior tweaks. It also holds the lap record at the German Nurburgring north circuit for a front-wheel-drive car; what we wanted to find out was whether it was just as fast – or too furious? – on Australian roads.
Price and equipment
The RS265 is based on the lesser Megane five-door hatch, but with a lower and wider three-door body and performance modifications carried out by Renault Sport, France's version of HSV. As well as the upgraded engine, the new version gets daytime LED running lights at the front, a more ergonomic stereo and some variations in interior trim. As before, it's with a manual transmission only.
The range starts at $42,640 for the RS265 Cup, which comes with 18-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, dual zone climate control, auto wipers and headlights and cruise control. There are eight airbags, including anti-submarining ones in the base of both front seats.
Step up to the 265 Trophy tested here and for $47,140 there are 19-inch wheels, keyless entry and ignition and grippier Recaro seats without the anti-submarining airbags. The Trophy+ at $51,640 adds to that leather and power adjustment for the Recaros, sat-nav, bi-xenon headlamps, a reversing camera and a glass roof.
There are also plenty of options, including a lurid stripes and decals package (an $890 option) that even adds red strips to shiny black wheels. On top of Renault Sport's signature yellow paintwork it's not a combination for the shy or hungover.
Under the bonnet
This is what it's all about. The RS265's 195kW of power from its 2.0-litre turbocharged engine puts it in the upper echelons of hot-hatch outputs and Renault's claim of it hitting 100km/h from a standing start in 6.0 seconds seems entirely plausible.
One small problem is the driver needs to hit a cunningly hidden and cryptically-identified button near the right knee to access this extra performance. Otherwise, the engine operates in the previous 184kW mode in an effort to pass Euro V emissions laws. Using French logic, the cruise control also needs to be switched off via a switch below the centre armrest to enter performance mode. It's all a bit of a palaver.
Locked and loaded thus, the RS265 fires. The exhaust gains an extra throaty burble and there is a hearty amount of acceleration available through the gears.
Maximum power is developed at quite a low 5500rpm and max pulling power 2500rpm lower so the good news is a fair percentage of the performance can be accessed without trying too hard. The gearshift and clutch action co-operate with satisfying accuracy but, of course, auto-only drivers aren't welcome.
You'll be unlikely to see Renault's claimed 8.2 L/100km even on a steady cruise and don't expect much less than 10.0 L/100km in normal driving. Given the performance, that's still pretty acceptable although more expensive 98-octane premium unleaded fuel is recommended.
How it drives
Renault Sport has also waved its wand over the Megane's suspension, which is lower and stiffer, and there's a limited slip differential for added traction. Along with the wider tyres that all means plenty of grip in the corners and there's no doubting this is an exciting car to drive.
Powering out of a corner in second gear it's a sudden rush to third and beyond with little in the way of body movement and no dramas apart from the tug of all that torque affecting the steering as well as powering the front wheels. The expected front-drive understeer (where the wheels run wide as they run out of grip) simply doesn't eventuate.
The steering is meaty yet tactile and while the suspension is good at sorting out bigger bumps, the low profile tyres of the Trophy give a fidgety, slightly uncomfortable ride over smaller stuff typical of Australian country roads. There's also plenty of tyre noise and the upshot is that while the RS265 can be exhilarating at times it's not the ideal grand tourer.
Comfort and practicality
The RS265 Trophy leaves its occupants in no doubts of its performance pretensions: those Recaro seats are widely bolstered and require a certain amount of gymnastics to get in and out of, the door trims and other parts are printed with a carbon fibre (carbon vinyl?) motif and there's a chunky leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear knob.
The seating position is low, comfortable and undeniably sporty and the simplified stereo controls are a boon. All is not perfect, however, as the speedometer is angled away from the driver and confoundingly graduated to French speed limits, not our more common 60 and 100km/h warnings. A digital speedo on the trip computer disappears when other warnings appear. The overhead dome light looks like it came out of a Weetbix packet.
Despite being a three-door with relatively difficult rear seat access there's more usable space than a bespoke sports car. Rear legroom is adequate even if head space is limited by the low, sloping roof and the boot holds a decent amount of luggage and is expandable via the folding rear seats.
Thick C-pillars limit rear-three-quarter vision and there's no rear camera on the Trophy so reversing and lane-changing can be a shot in the dark. The rear window seems to have been designed to collect dust on dirt roads, which inconveniently dumps into the boot when the hatch is opened.
The seventh-generation Golf GTI still sets the benchmark for hot hatches.
- Flexible engine delivers punchy performance
- Surprisingly economical
- Slick gearbox
- Practical interior
- Price premium over some competitors
- Auto hesitates in stop-start situations
There's plenty of action in the small performance car market at the moment and hot hatches such as the Golf GTi and Ford Focus ST undercut the RS265 on price, if not power output. The Trophy adds some useful equipment for even more money, but at $47,000-plus it is starting to look a little expensive.
For a torque-fuelled adrenaline rush, bounteous roadholding, visual flights of fancy and sheer entertainment this is one hot hatch that's hard to beat. French eccentricities in accessing that performance are less lovable, as is the lack of rear vision and ride comfort. Still, vive la différence.