Renault Mégane RS review – capable of toppling the Civic Type R? - Performance and 0-60 time

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

Performance and 0-60 time

Oddly, whether you choose the manual gearbox or the EDC transmission, which comes with launch control, the basic Mégane RS’s official 0-62mph time is unchanged. We’d usually expect the dual-clutch ’box to result in quicker acceleration, but the 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 276bhp and 288lb ft of torque drags the car to 62mph in a claimed 5.8sec in both cases. The only difference is the auto has a 3mph lower top speed of 155mph.

The 296bhp, 295lb ft Trophy trims a tenth from the above 0-62mph time – 5.7sec for both ’boxes – and lifts top speed to 162mph, which this time is identical with either transmission. With less weight but identical power, the Trophy-R does a little better: 5.4sec to 62mph and 163mph flat out.

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The 1.8-litre engine feels far stronger in the Mégane than it does in the Alpine, even more so than the 27bhp extra might make you believe. Not only is it powerful enough, it feels sophisticated. Maybe not as smooth as VW’s EA888 engine that’s found in many hot hatches within its group, but still eager and refined. Even the rasping noise it makes is alright, if not the most evocative.

Play around with the driver modes, pop the Mégane into Race, and the inoffensive engine noise is masked by a thrummy, synthetic din emitted by the speakers. Not only does this not sound very appealing, it’s barely like an engine noise at all. The Perso mode, where you can choose your own set-up, allows you to select the Race settings for everything but the engine noise, if you wish. Excellent.

The EDC transmission is unobtrusive at slow speeds when left in automatic mode. Use the column-mounted paddles to change gear yourself and not only do you realise the paddles are set too high and are too small to comfortably use, you also get a jolt as the next gear engages, especially in Race mode. When not in the sportiest setting, though, the dual-clutch ’box changes up automatically as it hits the red line, which can be frustrating if it coincides with your own request for an upshift, or if you’re about to hit the brakes and don’t want an upchange.

The manual transmission may not have the best gearchange in its class – that accolade goes to the Honda Civic Type R – and until it’s bedded in with a few miles the change can be notchy and obstructive. But it’s at its best when you’re driving hard, which seems appropriate, and undoubtedly contributes to the experience more than the EDC gearbox does.

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