Renault Megane RS Cup

Renault Megane RS Cup Review by Dirk Vale

When I received the RS Cup, I was expecting it to be a hot hatch, but when I sat in the car and pushed the start button I knew it would be a lot more than that.  The car is impressively styled and definitely looks the part of a “boy racer”. You sit quite low in the car, and until you drive it this feels somewhat strange. However, it feels natural once you’re moving. I expected a competitor to the Ford ST and instead found a competitor to the Lotus Exige. It looks the part, similarities to the Opel OPC can be seen but it has that unmistakable French flair to its finishes.

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While I had the car I actually enjoyed having to slow down and make it accelerate again. The sound of the car and the way it had immediate power makes it a lot of fun to drive. It’s one of those cars that no matter what you drive next, you wish you were back in the Cup. The gearbox is good, very quick and direct, which it needs to be for a car like this. It reminds me of the gearbox from the Renault Clio V6 Sport. It really seems built for the sole purpose of being fast and good at being fast. It has the Renault Sport Cup chassis so the foundation of the car was built to be fast. It is even lowered by 10mm making it even more track ready.

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As usual Renault doesn’t compromise on safety. It has the full house of ABS, ESP, ASR and CSV which is what you expect from a Renault. The braking system is excellent with the Brembo 4 Piston brakes on the front and it has a limited slip differential. It has big 19 Inch wheels and tyres to get that power down and with those red Brembos showing through, the wheels look hot on the car as well! It has the usual Megane niceties – auto lights and a rain sensor adding to that exclusive feel.

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What I loved about driving the Renault was how direct the steering is. There’s actually a piece of sewn stitching on the steering wheel right at the top and in the centre which feels like cross hairs on a fighter jet. The seats really lend themselves to this feeling. They are leather Recaro Bucket seats, and look elegant. Feels a bit awkward getting out of them but once you’re in the car you don’t want to get out! I would have liked the seat stitching to match that of the steering wheel but that is a cosmetic preference. They are beautifully finished and surprisingly comfortable. The car is very well balanced and that adds to the feeling of control you have whilst driving the car. It is much more race car than hatch, and I would have loved to have taken it on track but I will try again next time with Leslie from Renault. It feels like it was made to race.

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When sports mode is on you can feel it morph into a sport car, rather than a hot hatch, this is where the difference comes in.

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As a road car with the sports off it is still a comfortable drive although it has a stiff suspension, meaning I despised driving through road works more than usual! When the road was open it added to the sense of control. It would work as a daily drive even though its consumption is not the best. If you’re looking at the consumption then you wouldn’t be in the market for a Cup. It is a car that you need to respect while driving. As a petrol driven turbo it has wonderful low down torque, and it does have moments of torque steer but with the aid of the uniquely developed LSD it is mostly eliminated. Still, you need to respect it as not just a hatch but as a mini-supercar.

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The interior is beautifully done. The stitching is precise. The steering wheel radio controls are wonderfully easy to use. I would have liked to have the Tom-Tom navigation system that comes with the other Megane models, but RS Monitor is all you really need in the Cup. The RS Monitor displays mechanical behaviour such as power, torque etc and performance behaviour such as your 0-100kmp and a stopwatch, etc. The sound system in the car is excellent.  Although I don’t use it much while driving I prefer to listen to the car accelerating – a petrol-head’s favourite sound. Surprisingly there is even quite a large boot. Not quite enough for a set of golf clubs, but more than enough for most things I’d need space for.

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You must look at this car for what it is and who it is aimed at. For what it is it, it excels. It does what it is made to do extremely well and it beats its competitors hands down. Its price is R399,000.00 and I think it is worth the price tag. If you’re looking for a more sedate drive, this is not the car for you but if you’re looking for performance, there is no other. The RS badge has gained a lot of respect over the last few years and this model sets a new standard for Renault.

Specs worth noting:

Maximum Power (kW) @rpm: 185 @ 5 500
Maximum Torque (Nm) @rpm: 340 @ 3 800
0-100 kph (seconds):                  6.1
Maximum Speed (kph):              250
Price:                                        R399,000.00

Price Comparisons:

  • Audi S3 2,0T FSI Quattro S-Tronic R433,285.00
  • BMW 135i Coupe R439,537.00
  • Ford Focus RS R487,900.00
  • Lotus Exige R520,000.00
  • Mini Cooper JCW R345,857.00
  • Subaru WRX STi R499,000.00

I asked my tamed supermodel Robyn Hobson (http://www.robynhobson.com/) to give me her comments on the car, because for me and most people this matters greatly! Unfortunately she’s in Cape Town so she’s will be giving me her option on the looks for now, I’m planning to be in Cape Town with her and a car sometime soon though…

 

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Robyn’s Corner:
I really do love the lines on this car. Which is odd.. because I don’t usually get hot under the collar for Renaults. I’ll be honest though, I am NOT sold on it’s color which seems a very hideous yellow by the way. (Dear Renualt, please don’t hate me and my feelings on the signature colour) The Cup looks sleek and it looks fast; like it’ll make your pulse race and unlock your passion for speed. Just looking at it is making me want to race… and what I know about racing is dangerous. Plus it’s French… and I confess a weakness for most things ‘French’.

I look at the Cup, I see sleek lines, imagine fast laps and I get the feeling that it’s a car that’s going to leave you wanting more. And more. And more. A race track is a good look on this car. In fact; it might be persuading me. Maybe it’s subtle French style means that this a car that can get away with yellow.  Either way. This girl wants to drive it. And she’d love to drive it out on the race track.

I also really love the steering wheel. No really. It’s in the details. Have you seen the stitching? I must admit, it’s unleashed a very unexpected desire to drive it.

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Images by Maggi.

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