Renault Megane RS265 Trophy 2012 Review

Renault Megane RS265 Trophy 2012 Review

It’s not often you have the police to thanks for an insanely quick car being made even quicker. In this case it’s the French Gendarmes who requested a rapid response vehicle with a minimum of 265 horsepower. Renault obliged by taking its existing RS250 and squeezing another 15 horsepower out of it. That makes a total of 265hp or 195kW to you new-school hipsters.

So we said ‘merci’ to the Frenchies and took the Megane RS265 for a strop around the more twisty roads just out of Auckland. The fact that this car has done a lap of 8 minutes 8 seconds around Nurburgring will not be lost on you the first time you

brake (what you think is) slightly too late and discover that the Renault will not let your pirouette up the road. You can hold the line easily, even tightening it, using judicious throttle on the way out of the bend with nary a whiff of torque steer.

That Nurburgring lap record for a front-engine, front-wheel drive production car is made possible by three things. We’ve already mentioned the epic cornering ability. The second is some more-than-adequate acceleration (Renault quotes six seconds to 100kph, but it might be quicker – certainly, the acceleration from 60kph upwards is blistering), and third are the large slotted rotors that are clamped by Brembo brakes.

This combination creates a g-force frenzy that challenges the Recaro seats to keep you in the right place behind the wheel.

Being French, this car has some quirks, mainly because the French have never been able to get their interiors sorted as well as the Japanese and some other Euro manufacturers. The instrument cluster slopes away from you which means that at certain times of the day, the sun glare obscures what they read. The audio and phone controls are on a hidden stalk that you can’t see because the steering wheel is in the way, therefore you have to use extra-sensory perception to operate it (or get familiar for a while before you’re driving). And finally there was a flap of carpet just above the accelerator pedal that my foot kept getting caught on.

But I loved the rest of the interior. Renault Sport scuff plates and mat stitching reinforce the branding. The yellow seat belts and yellow-stitched Recaro seats made the driving position feel just that little bit extra special. The short-throw gear lever for the six-speed manual falls perfectly to hand. Drilled sports pedals plus the yellow stitched steering wheel with its centre marker round out the feeling of interior sportiness.

This is something that’s continued on the outside. At the back there’s a centrally exiting trapezoidal exhaust with a discrete diffuser and integrated reversing sensors. As your eye is drawn up to the boot hatch, RS badging is perhaps a little discrete, but the top-mounted rear spoiler is beautifully integrated into the vehicle’s form. This is even more evident in the side view where the window line dips down from the roof’s apex forming a diverging line with the roof that’s abruptly ended with a sculpted concave detail.

Immediately behind the front wheel is an air vent and prominent side skirt that joins the two flared arches. Optional Trophy decals sit half way down the doors, in line with the wing mirrors. Of course, from the side view you see the red Brembo calipers peeking through the 19-inch alloys. These are wrapped in 235/35 R19 tyres. The wheels and tyres are one of the differences between the Trophy and the standard Megane Cup RS265. Other differences include the Recaro seats, keyless entry/start and tyre pressure monitor.

At the front it’s even better with new LED lights, a deep splitter adorned with another Trophy decal, and a strong black bumper that ties the lines of the headlights in with the grille for the intercooler. Again, RS badging is very discrete, but the overall impression of a capable sports car certainly isn’t.

The noise from the two-litre turbo is insidiously deep. There’s no howl or raucous edge to the engine tone to even hint at the fury that can be unleashed. When you finally get to stretch its legs, the rev limiter beeps at you all too early – somewhere around 6000rpm. It never seems to come on song, although it is devastatingly fast. There’s little (if any) turbo lag and you can ride wide waves of torque. 360Nm of torque is available and, as you would expect with a car like this, it runs on 96 octane petrol, but preferably 98 octane. Renault says that you should be able to get 8.2l/100km out of it. We weren’t trying to drive economically, so our figure is irrelevant.

The Megane RS265 is an awesome car with some typically French foibles. Whether it’s Renault, Peugeot or Citroen, they never seem to be able to get their interiors perfect. However, it’s a minor consideration because the RS265 is so all-eclipsing in terms of its capabilities that you will quickly forget that you don’t like some small detail in the cabin. The fact this only comes in manual will ensure more exclusivity – sure, people who never learned in a manual might complain and want a dual-clutch version, but owning an RS265 is about owning a sports car with track credibility, and swapping cogs with your left hand and left foot completes the whole picture.

Price: $59,900 (or you can have the Cup version for $53,900)

Competes against: VW Scirocco R (read review)

Pros

  • Epic cornering
  • Wide torque band
  • Interesting interior
  • Track credibility
  • Excellent exterior design

Cons

  • Minor fit/finish/interior design issues
  • Doesn’t sound sporty enough

Words and photos: Darren Cottingham

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