The new Renault Megane RS is now available to order with prices starting from £27,495.
Based on the latest-generation Megane, the new hot hatchback is a direct rival for the Peugeot 308 GTi and Seat Leon Cupra.
Renault says the newcomer is more technologically advanced than before, with extra on-board gizmos and clever new mechanical components.
As before, the Megane RS will be available with two different flavours. The standard Sport model is designed to be the softer of the two, aiming to provide enough driver involvement without ruining the Megane’s refinement. The more aggressive Cup chassis, however, offers a more race-derived set-up, with more torsional rigidity and stiffer suspension. The Cup version also serves up a limited-slip differential and stiffer anti-roll bars, but the only visual clue is the red brake callipers.
The Cup chassis also gives customers the option of upgrading to Brembo bi-material brakes. Made from aluminium and steel, they are 1.8kg lighter per wheel than standard brakes, but their larger diameter means they are more powerful than before.
No matter which chassis you opt for, though, four-wheel steering is a standard feature. Tuned specifically for the Megane RS, the system will use the rear wheels differently depending on how fast the car is going. Below 37mph (62mph in Race mode), the rear wheels will turn in the opposite direction as the front wheels to reduce the turning circle. However, at higher speeds, the rear wheels will turn in the same direction as the front wheels, resulting in more stability.
Both versions also get the same engine. It’s a new 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol unit, which is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and sends its power to the front wheels. With a total output of 276bhp, it’s the most powerful 1.8-litre engine on sale today, and it’s capable of 0-62mph in 5.8 seconds. Flat out, it’ll be doing 158mph.
For the princely sum of £1,700, though, customers can choose the EDC automatic gearbox, which cuts the top speed to 155mph but makes no difference to the acceleration time. However, while it may sound like a dead loss, Renault says the auto ‘box offers launch control and improved economy. Where the manual will achieve 39.7mpg and 161g/km CO2 emissions, the automatic manages 40.9mpg and 155g/km.
The automatic transmission is also linked to the Megane RS’s Multi-Sense on-board driving mode selector. The system lets the driver choose between Comfort, Normal, Sport and Race modes, as well as offering a Perso setting, which allows customisation. In Comfort mode, the car dulls the throttle response to improve economy, while Sport mode beefs up the steering feedback, sharpens the throttle and reigns in the stability control to stop it intervening so quickly. Race mode, meanwhile, kills the stability control completely and sets the four-wheel-steering for track use.
And that isn’t the only technology on board. The Megane RS has full LED lights, a telemetry display that shows acceleration, braking and lap time data and the option of a new app, which downloads this data to your phone.
All this stands in addition to the standard equipment, which includes sports seats, two-zone climate control and satellite navigation.
The first UK-spec Megane RS models are expected to arrive on British shores this summer.