Car reviews - Renault - Megane - R.S. 275
Updated styling, more powerful remapped engine, titanium exhaust with carbon-fibre tail pipe, superb dynamics, Recaro seats, RS Monitor 2.0 car data system
Room for improvement
Angled instrument cluster hard to read, high clutch pedal, A-pillar visibility issues, lack of rear-seat comfort
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28 Nov 2014
WHILE the RS 275 Trophy is more than just stickers and go-fast stripes it still has them because part of the glory of owning a limited edition is making sure other Renault Sport fans know it’s one.
Distinguishing the RS 275 Trophy from a regular RS 265 is grey decals over the rear wheel guards, chequered flag design on the front doors and numbered scuff plates. There’s also the F1-style front splitter in Platinum Grey with Trophy lettering, 19-inch Speedline Turini wheels and a carbon-fibre centre-mounted exhaust tip.
Limited to just 100 cars (25 of which had been sold since it went on sale in September) the RS 275 Trophy is $52,990 plus on-road costs and sits at the top of the Megane range above the RS 265 Cup Premium at $47,990 and the $43,990 RS 265 Cup.
Renault singled out the RS 275 Trophy’s two main rivals as Volkswagen’s formidable all-rounder, the Golf R for $54,990 in dual clutch transmission guise, and Subaru’s rally-bred WRX STI Premium also for $54,990.
Both are all-wheel drive but if you were looking for front-wheel drive challengers there’s the well-respected Golf GTI Performance for $48,490 and Ford’s Focus ST for $38,290.
The standard features list is the same as the Megane RS 265 Cup Premium’s and includes keyless entry and start, plus a seven-inch display with reversing camera, sat-nav and R-Link media system. The RS 275 adds updated 2.0 Monitor car telemetry software, leather and Alcantara Recaro seats, Zamac alloy gear knob and Alcantara-clad steering wheel.
In 2008 the Megane was given a five-star score by the European NCAP crash test rating authority, however, this year the car scored three stars following new tough standards brought in by the body which lowered the hatch’s rating for not having a rear seat belt reminder in text that is not available in all languages and pedestrian protection which it considered poor.
Renault remedied this and Euro NCAP recently increased the Megane's rating to four stars. In Australia, the range has a five-star rating.
The RS 275 Trophy features ABS, traction and stability control, driver and passenger airbags front and side airbags, plus curtain airbags in the front and rear.
At the media drive in Tasmania, Renault brought along the RS 265 Cup, too, so we could drive it back-to-back with the RS 275 Trophy. This writer thought it a rather gutsy move especially if the limited edition turned out to be just as good as the regular model.
Renault had nothing to fear. The RS 265 is an agile and fun-to-drive beastie, so too is the RS 275, only it feels sharper, more energetic and angrier.
While they both share the same 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine the RS 275 has been tuned to produce 6kW more for 201kW. Torque remains the same at 360Nm.
These figures alone don’t tell the full story of what the engineers have done – the engine has been remapped to give the driver more torque and power higher in the rev range. The red-line has also been increased to 6800 rpm in first and second gear.
As we pulled out to overtake a semi-trailer on the Lake Leake Highway during our bolt south away from Launceston the extra grunt was noticeable.
Renault says that average combined driving should see you return a figure the same as the RS 265 – 7.5 litres per 100 kilometres. Our figure after (ahem) testing out the redline claim occasionally was 12.2L/100km.
Roads turned windy as we weaved through prehistoric forests making the figure-hugging Recaros work overtime to keep us in place. They’re brilliant seats, comfortable enough to sleep in – yes, seriously – and firm enough hold you like King Kong on the track.
Seats in the back also have a premium feel, but this 190cm writer can’t sit behind his driving position without getting creative with his legs. A small amount of time was spent travelling in the back but the pod-shaped rear of the cabin induced claustrophobia quickly.
The front of the cabin is really what this car is about, and with its soft-touch dash, padded arm rests, integrated touchscreen along with the Alcantara wrapped steering wheel and hand brake surround it’s a premium feeling place.
Letting things down slightly is the angled instrument cluster with its hard-to-read LCD display. The heavily raked windscreen looks great from the outside but the A-pillars are hard to see around in the corners.
Ride is firm, partly because of the sports tuned suspension of the Cup chassis and also due to the low-profile 235/35R19 Potenza RE 050 tyres but when it came to the tight twisties the car cornered flat, holding on with prodigious grip.
It was here that the mechanical limited-slip differential felt like a blessing from the race car gods as it adjusted the torque between the front wheels preventing any major loss of traction – even in Sport mode.
The six-speed manual shifts easily and while the clutch has a low take up, the pedal does seem very high.
Renault has revised the steering for the RS 275, too. An independent steering axis layout has been used which creates a degree of separation between steering and suspension to reduce torque steer. We still detected a little wiggle in the wheel under hard acceleration but nothing major.
Exclusive to the RS 275 is an Akrapovic titanium exhaust system which reduces weight by 4kg and adds a deep crackle under engine braking. The carbon fibre tail pipe is a nice touch too and it doesn’t get hot enough to burn your leg either as we discovered – don’t ask!The 2.0 Monitor is a great tool for the track – it allows the driver to view real-time car data such as power and torque and save information including lap times to examine later. The RS 275 gets the latest version of this program.
We swapped into the RS 265 for the dash to the airport through more engaging roads, and immediately we felt the difference. The RS 265 is a calmer and tamer beast and feels less athletic than its spring-loaded RS 275 sibling.
Yet the RS 275 is comfortable enough for an enthusiast to live with every day which is essential when you’re up against the likes of Volkswagen’s Golf R.
Does it set a new benchmark? Absolutely. Does it wear the hot-hatch crown? Yes, but maybe not for long, because in December another limited edition RS 275 arrives in Australia – the Nurburgring record-holding Trophy R.
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