It’s the depths of COVID-19 in Sydney and we are lucky enough to continue to have a steady stream of fantastic cars from all the major manufacturers.
The one challenge we have is that we are unable to venture very far in our test cars as lockdown had kept us very much housebound and the majority of our driving is to and from the collection point for each maker.
There have been a few highlights and one of these was most certainly the Renault Megane R.S. Trophy. It’s the last remaining car model that Renault offers in Australia, and it’s a looker!
The first thing it’s brings to mind about the Megane R.S. Trophy is the colour. The official name is Liquid Yellow and the colour is so vivid and looks so great on the car that it reminds me of a beautifully designed home or a breathtaking hotel where the facade takes your breath away you just want to stand and stare at it all day. Our photos don’t do it justice.
However, opening the beautifully solid door of the Megane R.S. Trophy and slipping into the Alcantara bucket seats is just as breathtaking as gawking at the car from any angle.
Right off the bat, it has to be said that this car is not made to make your neighbours happy every time you press the start button. The bark and rumble that emanates from the centrally-located active valve exhaust system are unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Cold starts in particular are incredibly noisy whilst the Megane warms itself up ready for even the most mundane commute.
Behind the wheel in those black racing seats with exclusive red R.S. stitching, you immediately feel in control and surprisingly more comfortable than you might have expected. Unlike some other hot hatches that we’ve tested, the Megane R.S. Trophy feels tight and solid and extremely well built – even for a car with a couple of thousand kilometres under its belt.
The driving position of the Megane R.S. Trophy is extremely good. The fully adjustable steering wheel means finding the right balance between your preferred seating position and how you like to grip the steering wheel is easily achieved. The steering wheel too is wrapped in Alcantara and like the seats, is adorned with R.S. badging and plenty of red stitching. Behind the wheel, however, is where things get a little busy for no apparent reason. There is of course the indicator and wiper stalks – plus an additional stalk for the audio controls and very much oversized paddles for the six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. On more than one occasion I did find myself catching the wipers as I reached for the upshift paddle.
On the road, the Megane R.S. Trophy is firm at low speeds which is very much expected. Get some momentum going on a good road and that firmness becomes very tactile as the characteristics of the road are communicated through the steering wheel. Each of the five driving modes further accentuates the driving dynamics of the Megane R.S. Trophy as well as the exhaust note.
Yes, there is a bit of torque steer, but this is a fundamental characteristic of any hot-hatch. The 1.452-tonne kerb weight of the Megane R.S. Trophy does keep this tugging at the steering wheel under control as does the 4CONTROL system with four-wheel steering which will provide 1° of front-wheel aligned rear-wheel movement at high speed and up to 2.7° of opposite movement at low speeds.
Another clever technology on the Megane R.S. trophy is mounted on the surprisingly powerful 1.8L turbocharged direct-injection engine which delivers 300 hp (220 kW). The turbocharger turbine for example is mounted on a heat-resisting ceramic ball bearing to deliver torque to 420 Nm with very little lag. When you get the turbo cranking (and you will) it’s great to know that Brembo brakes are fitted as standard and they will pull you up efficiently in any weather.
Clever tech to one side, the Renault Megane R.S. Trophy is very manageable around town although it can be quite thirsty. The interior is more than capable of taking 5 occupants and a bit of luggage but it really is built for the driver and a passenger to really get the most from the car.
The Renault Formula 1 team has for the past couple of seasons put on-track one of the best looking cars with the blend of yellow and black with only white sponsor logos. The Megane R.S. Trophy uses the same minimalist approach with subtle chrome and red accents on the 19-inch Jerez wheel rims and the exterior lighting system that can only be fully appreciated at night.
The on-road and ownership experience is class-leading and if you’re in the market for a European hot-hatch, then the Renault Megane R.S. Trophy must be on (and high up) your consideration list.
The Megane range has recently had a mild facelift for the 2021 model year and if anything these minor cosmetic changes have done nothing but enhance the best looking car to come out of France in a long time.
The Renault Megane R.S. Trophy starts at $57,990 plus on-road costs.
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