Garry Fabian road tests and reviews the 2013 Renault Mégane RS 265.
One may not agree with everything French, but when it comes to motor cars, the words style panache and engineering innovation are very accurate terms that come naturally.
The French in general, and at Renault in particular have been in the forefront of automotive excellence for well over a century, from the days of the late 19th century when the first cars were produced.
The Megane line-up and the very sporty Renault Megane RS 265 in particular, are an expression of this ongoing evolution.
Renault’s three-door hatch comes in three model grades – entry-level ‘Cup’, mid-range ‘Trophy’ and range-topping ‘Trophy +’. Renault fans will note this model adopts the English spelling of ‘Trophy’ in place of the previous model’s French ‘Trophee’.
Over the already highly-equipped Renault Megane R.S. 265, the Trophy adds front Recaro sports seats in cloth and leatherette, 19-inch alloy wheels, key-less entry and a tyre pressure monitoring system.
For the Trophy + you can add heated and height-adjustable front seats in charcoal leather (electronic adjustment and lumbar support for the driver), satellite navigation and reversing camera, Bi-Xenon headlights, front and rear parking sensors and a fixed glass roof.
If you’re lucky enough to snare a Renault Megane RS 265 Trophy 8:08 (only in ‘liquid yellow’ and ‘pearl white’ paint) you score 19-inch black alloy wheels with red trim and leather-trimmed Recaro front seats.
In addition, the Michelin tyres get the ‘heave-ho’, replaced by the same Bridgestone Potenza RE050A rubber as used when setting that Nurburgring benchmark time.
To get the required 195kW from its F4Rt 2.0-litre petrol engine, Renault bumped-up the turbocharger boost pressure by 0.2 bar to 2.5 bar and accordingly changed the air intake.
Naturally it’s Euro5 compliant for emissions (rated at 190g/km) and the combined cycle fuel consumption of 8.2l/100kms is more than five per cent better than the previous Renault Megane RS 250.
The Renault Megane RS 265 runs a tuned exhaust system with a massive central tailpipe. Changes in the engine management in ‘Sport’ mode deliver a race car-like crackle on overrun.
Drive is a via a six-speed manual transmission.
So the big question is - what’s the Megane like on the road? In one word ‘remarkable’.
The acceleration is breathtaking, particularly when the 265 mode is activated by the simple flick of a switch.
There was a time when the terms ‘195kW and 360Nm turbocharged front-wheel-drive’ and ‘torque-steer’ were as inseparable as ‘public holiday’ and ‘petrol price rise’.
But not anymore – Renault has nailed that problem thanks to smart ESP/ASR calibration and its independent steering axis front suspension system.
A conventional McPherson strut front suspension has the steering axis attached to both the ball joint of the lower arm and the upper damper mounting.
But the Megane R.S. 265’s system, first developed by Renault Sport Technologies in 2004, separates the steering axis of the front suspension from the damper – so the geometry is less sensitive to torque.
Equally impressive is its turn-in and mid-corner response.
In ‘Sport’ mode on the R.S. Dynamic Management system, the Renault Megane R.S. 265s delivers that initial turn-in and throttle-responsive oversteer-tendency from the rear-end which performance drivers look for in front-wheel-drive cars.
The suspension which is tuned to a sports feel, is good on the highway, but tends not to take too kindly to the ubiquitous “road furniture” that proliferates our urban roads.
But that is only a minor distraction from what otherwise is a very responsive car to drive.
Casting aside for one second the piping-hot looks and raucous turbocharged engine, we were just staggered by the competency of the Renault Megane RS 265’s chassis.
The wonderful steering response, superb traction (aka no torque steer), marvelous balance and stunning feedback…one of the drives of 2012.
Without doubt the hottest of the hot hatches, the Renault Megane RS265 eclipses its highly-praised predecessor and raises the bar even further.
We love the Volkswagen Scirocco R but the latest Megane road-rocket takes everything to a higher level.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 2.0 litre turbo producing 195kW and 360Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual.
Safety: Not tested
Warranty: Three years
Price: From $47,140