Renault gave us a event to exam both ‘sport’ and ‘cup’ cessation configurations on a Mégane RS 280’s launch, as good as both primer and EDC gearboxes – nonetheless a impressions on a primer ‘cup’ were cramped to a boundary of a track, so we’ll have to wait to plead how a stiffer-suspended automobile rides on a road. We should make it plain adult front, however, that a Mégane RS ‘sport’ has an amazingly movable and apt cessation set-up that works utterly spectacularly good over bumps and bad surfaces. But some-more of that shortly.
The stream Mégane’s cockpit creates for a decent depart indicate for a opening treatment, despite one with some teenager frustrations. The Mégane RS 280’s Alcantara sports seats are good and supportive, and a pushing position they extend is also good by category standards: we don’t lay uncomfortably high and a controls are well-located in front of you. Renault Sport’s attempts during enriching a interior materials are mixed, though; a RS’s red-striped seatbelts and red trim accenting is splendid and effective, yet a part-Alcantara competition steering circle has sincerely ordinary-feeling leather where your hands rest on a grips (at entertain to three) and soothing suede during six and 12 o’clock, where we seem to hold it less.
Equally peculiar are a car’s part-analogue, part-digital instruments, that include of a block digital shade done adult generally of differently themed combinations of analogue rev opposite and digital speedo. The system’s accessible shade space, however, is drastically curtailed by oversized analogue fuel turn and H2O heat gauges on possibly side of it. One bigger screen, with heat and fuel information we could call adult when needed (or during slightest scale to your preference), would have been a many some-more intelligent layout.
Details, perhaps. Still, they matter – generally given sum also primarily forestall we from enjoying a pushing knowledge of a paddle shift-equipped car. The positioning and movement of a change paddles for a Mégane RS 280’s EDC gearbox are – by my reckoning, during slightest – plainly during error here. Oh dear, we know: same record. But carrying been criticised so strongly for a Clio RS 200’s cheap and flimsy-feeling paddles, it’s extraordinary that Renault Sport should have steady roughly accurately a same corruption with that car’s new bigger brother.
The Mégane’s change paddles have improved haptic feel than that in a Clio; a ‘crushed cornflake’ movement is important by a absence. But they sojourn awkwardly placed on a car’s steering mainstay (displaced upwards by Renault’s reliable aged column-mounted audio remote control) so they’re a slight widen for your fingertips each time we need to squeeze a gear. They also miss that solid, tangible movement that’d tell we over doubt when you’ve successfully comparison a subsequent gear. They feel light and woolly, so it’s easy to half-pull one, afterwards yank it again usually to be sure, usually to find you’ve incidentally upshifted twice. Annoying.
The EDC gearbox itself does a important pursuit of doing a car’s rigging ratios and gives we something some-more like that close, intrinsic control over a pushing army going into a car’s front wheels than a Clio RS 200’s ‘box ever managed. It’s many quicker on a upshift than on a approach down a box, though, and zero like as well-spoken or prudent with a change timing in D as a improved ‘flappy paddle’ hot hatches we competence review it with.
The Mégane RS 280’s six-speed primer gearbox is a many simpler, some-more discerning and some-more gratifying thing to correlate with, thankfully. Shift peculiarity is well-defined and a car’s pedals are amply good placed that many drivers who wish to will simply be means to heel-and-toe their approach down a ratios. There’s no ‘synchro rev-match’ duty that’ll do it for we – yet we don’t mind. Can’t heel-and-toe? Then learn to expostulate properly, numpty.
And what about that vicious new automatic greasy bit that gearbox is connected to: a new Mégane RS engine? On this evidence, I’d contend it’s clever enough; rival with a prevalent customary for a normal full-sized prohibited hatchback, certainly. But as a deputy for a aged Mégane 275’s blown 2.0-litre engine, I’m not certain ‘better than average’ creates it worthy, actually. Because while a Mégane RS 280 has abounding real-world on-the-road performance, it’s not interjection to a engine. The motor’s torquey and free-ish-revving, yet also sounds a bit ordinary, suffers a bit with iffy stifle response via a accelerator pedal travel and doesn’t breathe in and keep hauling with anything like a high-range coercion of a Civic Type R’s 2.0-litre engine. As prohibited hatchback engines go, it’s usually alright.
Now, theory what’s improved than alright? The chassis. Yup, improved than alright. Balls to understatement – it’s sensational. The automobile steers faithfully, with useful weight and copiousness of feel. But a deftness, suppleness and fluency of a ‘sport’-suspended car’s float is superb on rough roads and is somehow set off opposite first-rate, on-going physique control in a multiple that no other prohibited hatchback in a category could match, I’d wager.
And improved still are a Mégane RS 280’s loyal showstoppers: totally interesting doing agility, shining cornering change and a aptitude for frolic that competence even make a Civic Type R seem straight-laced. These were apparent in both versions of a automobile we tested, so it’s positively not as if we have to buy a stiffer ‘cup’ chronicle with a automatic slippy diff to finish adult with a brilliant-handling automobile – nonetheless a somewhat quicker responses and marginally improved traction it grants are substantially value having.
But it’s a Mégane RS 280’s four-wheel steering complement that seems to minister many tellingly to a doing appeal and to biggest outcome when we use Renault Sport’s ‘race’ pushing mode, that raises a threshold speed during that it switches over from steering opposite a front wheels to steering in a same instruction as them. In many four-wheel-steered newcomer cars, this happens during around 30mph; in a Mégane RS 280 – and in ‘race’ mode, remember – we get a counter-steered behind spindle all a approach adult to 62mph. And so a automobile turns in with extraordinary alacrity and carries large mid-corner speed facilely on a offset throttle.
On a trailing throttle, meanwhile, you’ll be vacant how simply we can usually crack it into tasty small neutral-steered drifts, with a behind wheels effectively running a behind of a automobile ever so smoothly into a slide. That’s an impossibly lively change on a pushing knowledge of a front-driven opening automobile during sincerely low speeds, when a bends you’re rebellious are tight, transparent and well-sighted. And when they’re fast, open and bordered by kerbs, a complement creates a car’s doing super-planted and fast right when we wish it to be.