Review: Renault Megane R.S. (2018)

Rating:

Excellent flexible new 1.8-litre engine producing up to 300PS. Much improved interior quality and refinement. Precise handling makes it very enjoyable to drive.

Difficult to recommend it over a Focus RS. Can struggle for front end grip under hard acceleration. Rear steer requires adapting driving technique and lines through corners. Trophy has very hard ride.

Recently Added To This Review

28 November 2019

Following the records set at the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps, Laurent Hurgon, driving the Trophy-R, has set an official record time (2’25’’454) for a performance car... Read more

31 July 2019 Megane R.S. Trophy-R prices confirmed

Starts at £51,040 for the standard Megane R.S. Trophy-R, identified by its mother-of-pearl paint finish with red highlights as well as carbon composite bonnet, carbon rear diffuser and Fuji... Read more

5 July 2019 Megane R.S. Trophy-R announced

With a 130kg saving over the standard Megane R.S. Trophy, the Trophy-R features a powerful 300PS turbocharged 1.8-litre petrol engine and has set the production car lap record at the Nurburgring test... Read more

Renault Megane R.S. (2018): At A Glance

The Megane Renaultsport has long held a reputation as one of the best front-wheel drive hot hatches. But its mantle has slipped over the years with no shortage of competition from the likes of the Honda Civic Type R and Ford Focus RS.

So Renault is hoping this latest Megane R.S. will put the performance version of its family hatch firmly back on the radar of buyers who have been swayed by rival makes.

With that in mind, Renault has upped the ante by giving this Megane R.S. a new engine, more tech and improved performance, but all in a versatile package that's a comfortable every day car. 

So now the Megane R.S. is a five-door only and retains the same practicality as the standard Megane hatch - a car we really like. But there are some big changes under the skin. For starters, there's a new engine. This 1.8-litre turbocharged unit has 280PS while the Trophy version boosts this to 300PS.

Renault has also fitted 4Control - an intriguing new four-wheel steer system designed to increase agility in tight corners and better stability at higher speeds. As before there's the standard Cup chassis or the more hardcore Cup chassis which is 10 per cent stiffer.

It seems Renault has learnt its lesson from the automatic-only Clio R.S and offers the Megane R.S. with a standard manual - and a very good one at that - alongside an EDC automatic as an option. For our money, we'd always go for the more involving manual.  

In standard Cup trim, the Megane is still pretty firm as you'd expect of a hot hatch - but far more comfortable than you'd image. Much of that is down to a new suspension system which essentially creates what Renault describes as a 'shock absorber within the shock absorber' keeping the tyre in contact with the road for longer for better comfort.

Of course, most people will go for the R.S. Trophy model which has much stiffer (although not lower) suspension and as a result a ride that's even firmer than a Hyundai i30N or a Civic Type R. However, it does have more spec and a limited slip differential for better traction.

Both versions handle superbly well as you'd expect and there's a lot to be said for the standard 280PS model which we think offers more than enough everyday performance. The steering is responsive and has lots of feel, while the R.S. certainly sounds the part with a lovely deep burble from the exhaust. 

The Megane R.S is certainly back with a bang, making this one of the best hot hatches on the market. Would we choose it over the Focus RS? Not quite, but it has lots of appeal nonetheless and is a car guaranteed always to put a smile on your face.

What does a Renault Megane R.S. (2018) cost?

List Price from £27,995
Buy new from £24,293
Contract hire from £220.37 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

Renault Megane R.S. (2018): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4372 mm
Width 1874 mm
Height 1445 mm
Wheelbase 2669 mm

Full specifications

While the Megane may scream hot hatch on the outside, the interior is a little muted in comparison. That's not to say it's not good quality. As with the standard Megane, the cabin is robust and solid - and crucially a huge step forward from the old model - but there's not much to grab your attention.

There is at least some red stitching on the gear lever, handbrake and standard cloth seats. You can get Alcantara seats as an option for £1200 or full on Recaro buckets seats for a further £300, which do help to make the cabin feel a bit more special. There are a few other bits thrown in such as a red R.S. badge on the steering wheel and some aluminium pedals

Dominating the dash is a big iPad-esque screen. Vibrant, pretty, customisable and - most importantly - intuitive to use, it’s a world away from the dreadful touchscreen mightmares of recent Renaults past. That said, it's still not as slick as the system you'll find in a Golf R, although is at least better than the terrible Civic Type R infotainment.

Being a hot hatch, the Megane gets the fundamentals right. The driving position is spot-on, there's lots of adjustment in the seats and it's a car you can set up for every day driving or for something a bit more 'lets go quickly round some corners' if the need takes you.

Elsewhere, it's odd the Megane R.S. has a old-school handbrake when the standard Megane gets an electric parking brake, but there's good space in the back and a decent-sized boot too. It doesn't do too much that's special - there are no clever features or even an adjustable boot floor, while the boot itself has a high load lip. That said, this is certainly a car you can use every day without any compromises.

Standard equipment (from launch):

Megane R.S. models have chrome-plated R.S. door sills, custom R.S. roof lining and sports seats with Dark Carbon R.S. upholstery, Nappa perforated leather steering wheel and gear gaiter, custom front bumper with Gun Metal Grey F1-style blade and honeycomb front grille, rear bumper with functioning diffuser and central exhaust, rear spoiler increases, full LED lighting system, Gun Metal Grey ‘Estoril’ 18-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, Multi-Sense driving modes, seven-inch touchscreen with European mapping, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, handsfree keycard with automatic locking and welcome function, heated electric door mirrors and Hill Start Assist.

Megane R.S. Trophy models add Jerez triple tone 19-inch alloy wheels, Cup Chassis pack including limited slip differential, red brake calipers, stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bar, Renault Sport Monitor plus a leather and Alcantara steering wheel with R.S. badging.

Child seats that fit a Renault Megane R.S. (2018)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Renault Megane R.S. (2018) like to drive?

Renault has actually downsized the engine in the Renaulsport version of this Megane, dropping the 2.0-litre in favour of a 1.8-litre engine. Despite the smaller capacity, it actually produces more power with 280PS along with an impressive 390Nm of torque.  

Go for the Trophy version and this is upped to 300PS and 420Nm of torque - figures that are comparable with the Civic Type R (slightly less power but more torque). On paper the Trophy will do 0-62mph in just 5.7 seconds, regardless of whether it's a manual or an EDC automatic, putting it on par with its main hot hatch competition.

The Megane R.S. certainly sounds good with a nice deep burble from the exhaust. We wouldn't say it's the best sounding hot hatch - that remains the Focus RS - but there's a nice rasp when you change gear. You can also amplify the engine sound in the Multi-Sense settings. Basically, stick it in Sport and it gets louder.

Despite all that power, the standard Megane R.S never feels as ferocious as the Civic Type R when accelerating. The Trophy does a better job here and also sounds better thanks to a valve in the exhaust which results in pops and crackles when you come off the power.

Whether you go for the standard R.S. or the Trophy, you get the 4Control four-wheel steer system. It may sound a bit like a gimmick but it actually makes a difference. Under 37mph the front and rear wheels turn in the opposite direction, to make cornering sharper. Over 37mph the wheels turn in the same direction, the idea being to increase stabilty.

It works well and the Megane feels eager in corners with lots of front end grip and responsive steering. It certainly gives you plenty of confidence to take corners with thanks to its nimble nature. At higher speeds, the system it can take a little getting used to - you need much smaller steering inputs than you'd expect.

Where the Megane impresses is with its ride quality. It handles rough surfaces and poor quality tarmac really well thanks to the clever suspension which features hydraulic compression stops on all four shock absorbers, keeping the tyres in contact with the road longer.

There are two chassis options available. The standard Sport or the optional Cup (standard on the Trophy model). The Cup gets revised springs and anti-roll bars making it 10 per cent stiffer, plus it gets a mechanical limited slip differential, improving traction out of slow corners. 

One issue with the Cup chassis is that the front wheels tend to follow ruts in the roads under hard acceleration. This results in the steering wheel tugging from side to side.

Rear steer requires adapting driving technique and lines through corners.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.8 TCe 40 mpg 5.8 s 183 g/km
1.8 TCe 280 40 mpg 5.8 s 161 g/km
1.8 Tce 280 Automatic 41 mpg 5.8 s 155 g/km
1.8 TCe 280 Automatic 41 mpg 5.8 s 155 g/km
1.8 TCe Automatic 41 mpg 5.8 s 193 g/km