I have realized that you don’t really need a supercar to experience the sheer excitement, joy and the thrill of driving. What happens when a racing team decides to put their hands on a normal hatchback and dial it up to F1 style? The product of this experiment is the Renault Megane R.S 280 Cup (R.S: Renault Sport). The predecessor to the Megane R.S Cup was undoubtedly one of the greatest hot hatchbacks ever made. Which is why the pressure to better that was a daunting task for the Renault team.
So what’s changed in the new Megane R.S? At the first look itself, you can tell where the inspiration came from. For starters, the Megane R.S Cup has a Formula one inspired blade in the front bumper with seriously widened tracks that make the front arches 60mm wider and the rear arches by 45 mm compared to the standard Megane. The width may be overwhelming initially especially while tackling narrow roads but it is worth it for the improvement in performance and stability it offers. The RS steers all four wheels using 4CONTROL 4WD technology, a first in its segment. The rear-wheel steering advantage is noticeable on the track, making it easier to go around the tight hairpin bends.
There are three model types available to buyers. The entry-level 280 bhp car with softer suspension setup, a 280 bhp car with stiffer suspension (your bottoms are your suspensions) and 300 bhp, bigger brakes, biggest wheels (19-inch) and stiffest suspension possible (be ready for an early hip replacement). I had the stiffer suspension setup, so you get an idea of what I have been through.
All the Cup cars get standard 19-inch black diamond-cut alloys complimented by low-profile Bridgestone tires that offer phenomenal grip levels. It has a full set of LED headlights & tail lights, C-shaped LED DRLs, 8.7-inch tablet-style touchscreen with clear resolution and tasty graphics, rearview camera and adaptive cruise control. A 7-inch TFT instrument displays a huge tachometer in the centre that changes colour depending on which mode you are in. Of course, race mode is my favourite.
One of the coolest features is the R.S monitor that displays the telemetry data such as the tire pressure, lap times, acceleration (0-60mph, 0-100mph), G-sensors, brake pressure and so on. This wide variety of rich insights is gathered using the 40 sensors surrounding the exterior of Megane R.S. which constantly provides real-time driving data.
The comfort levels have been dialled up compared to the previous generation. The interiors are built using a mix of leather, plenty of soft-touch materials and Alcantara seats. The front seats are bucket-shaped so expect yourself to be cramped into one with limited adjustment options available. Some expect the car to seat five people which is doable but it won’t be a comfortable ride. Two adults can sit in the front while adults with legs cannot in the rear. The rear seats are made for more like three kids. The boot exists and you should be thankful for that.
Honestly, none of this matters. At least to me. You see the Megane R.S Cup has a 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine that churns out 276 bhp and 390 N-m of torque. Except in the comfort mode, the throttle response is immediate with little to no lag. The double-clutch EDC gearbox is a little jerky at lower speeds. If you are someone that likes to take control, then there are pedal shifters which for some reason are shorter on the bottom side.
The R.S launches like an arrow and before you realize you are buried deep inside your seat. The most intoxicating thing is hearing all the pops and crackles with any full-throttle upshift. The chassis is so brilliant that it can handle much higher loads enabling you to push it even further.
The four-wheel steering makes cornering so effortless and goes precisely where you want it to. All these capabilities are thanks to the new suspension setup and particularly the hydraulic compression stops. The limited-slip diff lock makes it easier to get on the throttle and exit the corner.
The result of launching like a rocket and pushing it fast means the economy takes a hit. You will at best manage anywhere between 12-13 kpl (On a track, 7-8 kpl). With a 50-litre fuel tank capacity, the track days are going to be short with more time spent at the petrol station. Depending on the model you select you will shell out AED 119,900 ($32,500) for the R.S Cup and AED 124,900 ($34,000) for the R.S Trophy.
The Megane R.S Cup is an impressive and improved car. This car is equipped to handle track days with the flick of a button. The firmer suspension setup does make it tiring and uncomfortable to drive on normal roads. Nonetheless, it is still made for the passionate driver looking to test its limits. Every time I parked the Megane R.S and looked back at that tonic orange colour, I always felt like jumping in for another drive. Also, hearing that exhaust note never gets old. I could not stay put at home till the time I had the car with me. I guess, that’s what a special car does – keep you out and about looking for non-stop fun!
You can check out my review of the 2020 Nissan Patrol V6 from this link.