Megane RS has a sharp focus on control
Renault has launched its new Megane RS in SA to take on the established hot-hatch market
Renault Sport enthusiasts have been looking forward to the arrival of the latest Megane RS in SA and finally the wait is over.
The company launched its new missile this week and, after we drove it earlier in 2018, Lerato found it to be less the pure enthusiast’s car and more of an all-rounder.
Driven by design and focused on performance, Renault says the latest generation makes no attempt to hide its motorsport pedigree, particularly when it comes to driving dynamics on the road and on the track.
Design and engineering elements include the fact that the side wings have been widened by 60mm at the front and 45mm at the back (in comparison to the Megane GT). With the ride height lowered by 5mm compared with the GT and new 18-or 19-inch wheels, these new proportions make the car appear more aggressive.
In addition, there are wing-mounted air extractors, which optimise air flow through the wheel arches and the side sills establish a link between the front and the rear, the black blade of which evokes the undertray of a Formula 1 car.
There is a redesigned, narrower rear spoiler that has been engineered to improve aerodynamic performance and the rear bumper features a built-in diffuser and central exhaust.
"After having been involved in the development process in 2017, I’m proud to be the ambassador for Renault Megane RS," says Nico Hülkenberg, Renault Sport F1 driver and Renault Sports Cars ambassador.
"I had the opportunity to drive the car at various racetracks — Monaco, Montlhéry and Spa-Francorchamps — and I was impressed by the efficiency of the latest onboard technologies. The 4Control system is a dream come true for every driver looking for efficiency, since it improves the agility and the stability of the car. It’s a shame that four-wheel steering systems are banned in Formula 1."
We have experienced that 4Control system on the Megane GT that we had in our long-term fleet and it is no gimmick, providing much tighter turn-in when the bends beckon. It is an element Renault clearly thinks gives the Megane RS an edge.
"We’re proud to have managed to produce a car with improved cornering efficiency, largely due to the introduction of 4Control," says Patrice Ratti, MD, Renault Sport Cars.
"The system improves agility on tight corners and stability on fast bends, on the road and on the track. Drawing on the brand’s vast motorsport heritage, the new Renault Megane RS has been designed by people who are passionate about cars for people who love to drive. Its versatility also makes it perfectly suited to everyday use."
At low speeds, the rear wheels turn in the opposite direction to the front wheels, up to a maximum angle of 2.7°. The 4Control system comes into its own on twisty, winding roads, the 20% more direct steering delivering incisive handling. Renault says the settings chosen deliver better entry on corners and a "playful" side that is unprecedented on a front-wheel drive car.
Depending on how playful you want your Megane to be, there are two chassis options: Sport and Cup, allowing for two types of handling, thanks to the specific suspension settings (springs, shock absorbers, stops and anti-roll bar stiffness).
Renault says the Sport chassis provides new versatility on all types of surface, including the poorest quality and most uneven roads.
It comes with new shock absorbers and an electronically-controlled torque distribution system. By acting independently on the drive-wheel brakes, this technology limits understeer and improves traction when exiting corners.
Suited to intense sports-style use and especially to driving on racetracks, the Cup chassis offers a 10% stiffer damper system and a new Torsen mechanical, limited slip differential.
The engine is a new version of the 1.8l direct injection turbo unit, derived from synergies with the Renault-Nissan Alliance. It develops 205kW at 6,000r/min and a peak torque of 390Nm available from 2,400 to 4,800r/min through either a manual or EDC gearbox, depending on whether you opt for the Sport or Lux derivatives, the latter only being available in SA from November.
New cylinder head
To achieve the required performances, Renault Sport’s engine specialists designed a new cylinder head, with a reinforced structure and more efficient cooling that dissipates heat next to the combustion chamber. The design was entrusted to a task force made up of specialists from Renault Sport Cars, Renault Sport Racing and the Renault Technocentre1.
Strangely, and after checking a few times, the info released by Renault on its new hot hatch did not mention any performance figures, dwelling instead on the 4Control, the interior appointments and the LED lighting. Of course, we know you want the performance numbers. so the new RS is claimed to hit 100km/h in 5.8 seconds and a top speed of 250km/h.
The Sport version is available from September at R549,900 and the Lux derivative will be the same when it is released in SA in November 2018.