To be honest, back in the day Renault cars were not all that popular.
They were not the type of cars to get people talking. But that has changed over the years.
My all-time favourite Renault model has always been the Megane R.S. According to Renault SA, it has
been a success story, with 25 000 Meganes sold since 1996.
I was invited to Port Elizabeth to drive the all-new Renault Megane R.S on the recently refurbished Aldo Scribante race track. We drove the car in Spain earlier this year, and were of the view that this more sensible R.S should attract quite a few new buyers to the Renault camp.
Before I tell you how I feel about the car, let me clear up a few things.
This fourth-generation Megane R.S, is the first hot hatch to feature a 4Control four-wheel steering system, a non-adjustable, rally-inspired suspension using hydraulic compression stops, and a completely revised R.S Monitor system.
Under the bonnet, it features a new generation four-cylinder 1.8-litre turbocharged engine developed by the French carmaker’s Sport Cars and Sport Racing engineers.
It develops a very usable 205 kW of power at 6 000 rpm and 390 Nm of torque at 2 400 rpm, channelled
strictly to the front wheels. The new Megane R.S is only available as a practical five-door variant.
It wins in the looks department, with an aggressive front end and a massive diffuser at the back.
Renault has widened the rear of the car by 26mm, the front by 41mm and the height has been lowered by 5mm.
Inside, there are sports seats, 8.7 inch touchscreen, two USB ports, a R.S multi-functional steering wheel, aluminium pedals and red accents.
Although it does not feel that much different to the Megane GT inside, the driving position is excellent.
Two R.S versions are available, the Lux which features the trusted six-speed Efficient Dual Clutch (EDC) gearbox and the Cup with a six-speed manual transmission.
If you really enjoy manual, then you need to wait for September for it to arrive. It will feature Brembo brake callipers painted red – the Lux callipers are painted in silver.
At the launch, the 4Control system was demonstrated and it delivers outstanding agility through tight turns and impressive cornering stability at higher speeds.
At low speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels whereas at high speeds, the front and rear wheels turn in the same direction.
The switchover point is set at 60km/h, and is increased to 100km/h in Race mode.
The R.S is available in two chassis options, Sport and Cup.
The Sport suspension is for sporty driving and a firm ride, while the Cup offers greater performance, with fewer trajectory variations and disruptions for the driver.
You get different driving modes. Comfort and Normal offer smooth gear changes, without any jerking. Sport makes the R.S feel quicker with swift gear changes accompanied by intensified engine noise.
Race is suitable for attacking the race track and praying for your guardian angel to protect you because there is no traction control to save you.
Perso lets you customise your R.S, from engine to steering.
Of course, the R.S comes with a simple to engage Launch Control function.
Driving the R.S on the track, it feels quicker than the 5.8 seconds to 100km/h claimed by the French folks. Although you might not even consider taking the R.S to the track, we must say it has a small amount of understeer as the front wheels would spin and lose grip when coming out of a corner.
The engine performance is as you would expect it to be. I drove the Lux version and I disliked the steering mounted paddle shifters that do not move with the steering wheel.
Going fast, I would find myself looking for the paddles, especially in tight corners.
And for some strange reason, you cannot use the gear lever to manually shift gears.
Point it to corners, and the 4Control system makes it change direction far more efficiently than before.
Drive it on the road like the average guy would, and it is a more comfortable car than before.
If you are in the market for a hot hatch that looks different, more powerful and competes with the VW Golf GTI and Ford’s Focus ST, then the French’s offering is not a bad choice.
If you want a more powerful version, you can wait until 2019 for the Trophy model with 221 kW.
Pricing for the Lux and Cup models is at R549 900.
The Renault Megane R.S comes standard with a five-year/150 000km mechanical warranty, a three year/45 000km service plan.
Service intervals are at 10 000km backed-up by a six-year anti-corrosion warranty