When Renault first participated in the Formula One Championships back in 1977, the brand made a strong name for themselves as constructor and engine supplier. Come the 21st century, Renault was also responsible for dead-stopping Ferrari’s six-year winning streak. Since then, the dark horse of Formula One etched a lasting impression in my younger self. I mean, they led the pack despite not having the most powerful engine.
I came across numerous high-performance Renault cars on the road before this and I dreamt of experiencing one first hand, from the driver’s seat. When my editor passed the chance to review the Renault Megane R.S. 265 Sport, there was no thinking twice.
|Name||Renault Megane R.S. 265 Sport||Renault Megane R.S. 265 Cup|
|Engine||1,998cc; 16V 4-cylinder turbo|
|Max Power||265 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Max Torque||360 Nm @ 3,000 – 6,000 rpm|
|0 – 100 km/h; Top Speed||6.0 seconds; 255 km/h|
|Price (OTR without insurance)||RM197,888||RM234,888|
Here we have the “tamer” C-segment hatch of the lot, the Megane R.S. 265 Sport. Compared to the more expensive Cup variant (costlier by RM37k), the Sport variant loses out on the Cup chassis, front axle mechanical limited slip differential, Recaro R.S. semi-leather seats, red Brembo brake callipers, 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system with R.S. Monitor 2.0, two additional speakers, reverse camera and keyless entry. Even so, the R.S. 265 Sport is still more than capable.
Upon receiving the key card, the jubilant me searched high and low for a bright yellow Megane, only to realise that the card in hand unlocks the doors to a Diamond Black unit. I got to learn that the Sport variant is only available in Diamond Black and Glacier White while the Sirius Yellow is an RM7k option (yikes) that’s exclusive to the Cup variant. Nonetheless, the Diamond Black paintjob looks just as good.
This example here is the facelifted third-generation Megane R.S. which adds on a large diamond emblem with R.S. designation, presumably short for Really Serious. Okay, no, it’s short for Renault Sport. Hence, you get more aggressive headlamps, LED daytime running lights and F1 inspired wing in the lower intake. It’s quite a looker, isn’t it?
The fluid body lines, aerodynamic roof and tastefully flush roof spoiler with integrated LED third brake light all come together nicely to give this hot hatch a planted and athletic silhouette. Coupled with the rear diffuser and a centre-mounted tailpipe, it really is an attractive car. This variant rides on 18-inch Tibor alloys wrapped in 225/40 profile tyres.
Although the interior is bare and simple, the saving grace is that all the controls are very easy to navigate, almost intuitive, if you will. It does not come with a cigarette lighter but the 12V socket is still present. The fabric R.S Sport seats at the front provides ample support, especially around tight corners.
The infotainment system supports Bluetooth connectivity, USB and Auxiliary port connected to a six-speaker sound system. While the Sport variant loses out on the R.S. Monitor 2.0 7-inch touchscreen display, I don’t quite miss it as it keeps me focused on things that matters most – driving.
Being a three-door hatch, accessing the rear seats is naturally inconvenient. Fortunately, both the front seats come with a one-touch tilt and slide function which greatly aids ingress and egress. The aperture is decent enough for even taller individuals to slide right through.
This French hatch is equipped with a transversely oriented 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder pushing out 265 hp at 5,500 rpm and a maximum torque of 360 Nm from 3,000 rpm – 6,000 rpm. Thanks to a camshaft angle variator at the intake port, the engine delivers high torque at the lower end of the rev range. Power is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed PK4 manual transmission propelling the car to 100 km/h in just 6.0 seconds flat before maxing out at 250 km/h.
Drivers are also able to select the vehicle’s throttle response and ESC threshold via a R.S. Drive select switch to three different driving modes – Normal, Sport and Race. Race mode leaves the fate of the vehicle entirely to the driver as it completely disables the ESC.
With great power comes with great stopping power. The front axle is fitted with 340 mm ventilated disc brakes with silver four-pot Brembo brake callipers while the rear axle comes with 260 mm solid discs, giving great breaking confidence to the driver. The exhaust system is also delicately calibrated to play an exhilarating symphony during hard accelerations that seeps into the cabin, giving an aural pleasure for fellow passengers.
As a high performance vehicle, safety features are essential to keep occupants safe when driving at the limits. As such, standard features on the Megane R.S. include six airbags, ABS with EBA, EBD, ESC, ASR anti-slip function and understeer control logic (UCL).
Besides that, the car also comes with several convenience features such as automatic headlamps and wipers, cruise control, speed limiter, automatic hazard lights during emergency braking and ISOFIX mounting points in the rear side seats.
Driving the Megane R.S., my heart beats as rapidly as the engine gets up the revs. Just a gentle nudge on the throttle and the speedometer climbs at an alarming rate. Despite being in a 265 hp manual hot hatch, operating the Megane R.S. in traffic was not as difficult as I expected, because daily driving this machine is entirely plausible.
The next day I leapt at the opportunity to let the Frenchie loose through some B-roads. Regardless in high or low gear, the car has plenty of grunt to carry its weight around. It’s eager to put power down at the exact moment your right foot demands without much turbo lag.
Steering on the Megane R.S. is well weighted and has plenty of feedback, allowing me to confidently dance along its limits. Even as I took a turn a little too optimistically, it remained unfettered and understeer was inexistent. The occasional lift-off oversteers can be enthralling but also manageable. I believe that the Megane R.S.’s superb performance is inherited from Renault’s DNA in motorsports. Of course, knowing very well where my driving skills stand, I dare not explore the limits of the car in Race mode (turns ESC completely off) in the beautiful mountain pass.
During our journey back, the brakes and suspension setup on the Megane R.S. were very confidence inspiring during the descent from Genting Highlands. Even with some fairly basic hill-toe action, the French hatch was able to maintain its composure very well. Not once did it try to pull a fast one on me.
Overall, my short stint with the Megane R.S. has taught me plenty about driving. If you’re fortunate enough to have this highly capable hatchback as your daily driver, no doubt you’ll experience exponential growth in your driving capabilities.
IS THIS CAR FOR YOU?
If you’re looking for something that can tackle the twisty mountain pass and occasionally take it to Sepang for some hot laps, the Renault Megane R.S. will do just that. The car, together with its F1 derived technology is a very forgiving vehicle to drive and is enjoyable for just about all but the most hardcore purists.
Despite being a Renaults Sports Car series, the car is remarkably damped and is honestly liveable day in and day out. A 265 hp weapon for less than RM200k? Well, nothing else in the market comes close to its value proposition. Just head on over to a Renault showroom for a test drive and you’ll know for sure if this is the car for you.
WILL I BUY IT?
The Megane R.S. left a lasting impression, be it its exterior design, interior layout or even the performance and driving dynamics. It’s a car I that I was very reluctant to give back. And once you know how difficult it is to part ways, you’re more than certain that it’ll end up being in your garage one day. That’s how I feel about this car.
Now, the fourth-generation Megane was just recently unveiled in Europe, both in hatchback and sedan body styles. It is only a matter of time before Renault Sport injects their racing genes into it. If it really arrives to our shores in the future, maybe I won’t be able to resist it.
Adrian’s take: This is a proper, proper pocket rocket. The sheer adrenaline that rushes through your veins when the car takes off from naught is euphoric. It boggles the mind how a car performs this well, yet is perfectly able to manage road undulations just as well as other regular, road-going hatches. At RM198k, this car is an absolute steal if you can look past the rather basic equipment list. Of course, there is the more expensive Cup version that comes with more convenience features. However, the otherworldly performance as well as the pops and crackles during overruns is more than enough for this car to be the best car I’ve driven in 2016.
Words by: Andrew Choo