Renault Mégane RS review – capable of toppling the Civic Type R? - Engine and gearbox

It might not drive like the other Renault Sport Méganes we’ve known and loved, but this version is still mightily impressive

Evo rating
Price
from £27,495
  • Massive grip, incredible composure and eerily impressive agility
  • Dual-clutch gearbox is frustrating compared to manual transmission, not the level of involvement we’ve come to expect from a Renault Sport car

Engine, transmission and technical details

The Mégane’s 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine is the same unit as found in the middle of the new Alpine A110, as is the dual-clutch transmission. But rather than making do with the sports car’s 249bhp and 236lb ft, the hot hatch gets an extra 27bhp and 52lb ft of torque in standard form, and a bump to 296bhp and 295lb ft for the Trophy and Trophy-R (the latter being manual-only). That’s thanks to alterations to the cylinder head by Renault’s Formula 1 powertrain engineers, a faster reacting twin-scroll turbocharger, mirror coating on the cylinder bores and a higher capacity, dual-intake induction.

The Mégane’s exhaust includes some refreshingly simple technology to create different volumes depending on how you’re driving. But, rather than resorting to heavy valves and actuators, the pressure and speed of the exhaust gasses change the way it sounds – as the revs rise and the engine expels more exhaust gasses, the longer silencer tube in the back-box is automatically bypassed. Certain models, including the Trophy-R, bring back that good old blast-furnace sound thanks to an Akrapovic system.

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Unlike some of its rivals – notably the Hyundai i30N Performance and the Honda Civic Type R – the Renault Sport Mégane does not have adaptive dampers. They aren’t even an option like they are on the Golf GTI and R.

Instead, the Mégane has passive dampers, but rather than being devoid of any state-of-the-art technology, each unit has inbuilt hydraulic bump stops that make the extremes of the suspension movement far less abrupt than with conventional rubber stops. Both the springs and the dampers on the Trophy-R are adjustable – the former tweaking ride height with an optional tool.

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The Trophy-R is a bit of a treasure trove of technical highlights, though. Most obvious is the addition of carbon-ceramic front brakes and carbonfibre wheels, but overall it’s 130kg lighter too, owing to the removal of the rear seats, using thinner side glass, a carbonfibre bonnet, titanium exhaust system, and a full 32kg saved by using a purpose-designed torsion-beam rear axle with no rear-wheel steering set-up. There’s a new rear diffuser too, plus a simpler cabin and some stunning Sabelt bucket seats – both achieving further weight savings.

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