2018 Renault Megane RS Review
Toby Hagon’s 2018 Renault Megane RS Review with Price, Specs, Performance, Ride and Handling, Ownership, Safety, Verdict And Score.
In a nutshell: The latest Renault Megane RS has a smaller turbocharged four-cylinder and a larger five-door body in the fight for the hot hatch dollar. In 2019 it also brings the added cachet of being one of Daniel Ricciardo’s company cars following his switch to Renault F1.
2018 Renault Megane RS Review Specifications
Price From $44,990+ORC Warranty 3 years, unlimited kilometres Service Intervals 12 months, 20,000km Safety Not rated Engine 1.8-litre 4-cylinder turbo Power 205kW at 6000rpm Torque 390Nm at 2400rpm Transmission 6-speed manual or 6-speed twin-clutch auto Drive Front-wheel drive Dimensions 4372mm (L), 1874mm (W), 1445mm (H), 2669mm (WB) Kerb Weight 1427kg (manual), 1450kg (auto) Boot Space 434L Spare Repair kit Fuel Tank 50L Thirst 7.4L/100km (manual), 7.5L/100km (auto)
The latest Renault Megane RS arrives with a downsized engine and upsized body to take the fight to the growing breed of hot hatches. Now with a five-door hatchback body, the latest model injects new technology and more mature dynamics to ramp up the fun factor while making everyday driving more palatable.
What’s in the range and how much does it cost?
There’s a sole Megane RS model available with a six-speed manual or six-speed auto transmissions. They’re $44,990 and $47,490 respectively. Each is paired to a 205kW/390Nm 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbo engine.
Standard kit runs to 19-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone ventilation, auto headlights, auto wipers, parking sensors front and rear, reversing camera, tyre pressure monitoring, adaptive cruise control and an 8.7-inch touchscreen incorporating Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and satellite-navigation.
There’s also smart key entry – and it has a terrific function that locks the car once you walk away from it, so there’s no need to scrabble around for the key.
Six airbags are complemented by driver assistance technology, including blind spot warning, lane departure warning and auto emergency braking.
Whereas the previous Megane RS had only three doors, the new one picks up back doors, for five in total. As before, there are substantial changes to the RS body compared with the Megane it’s based on. The front wheels, for example, are further apart courtesy of plastic front fenders that bulge 60mm wider and house vents for more visual aggression. There rear has also been widened, combining with the unique bumpers to create a very different look.
For an extra $1490 there’s also a Cup Pack that adds a limited slip differential, black wheels, stiffer springs and shock absorbers, and better brakes with red calipers.
Or you can add Alcantara trim for $1190, a sunroof for $1990 or a Bose sound system for $500.
There are some interesting colours, too, including Liquid Yellow or Tonic Orange. While metallics add $600, those two “signature” colours add $880.
What’s the interior and practicality like?
Like the outside, there’s a thoroughly sporty flavour to the interior, starting with the flat-bottomed steering wheel with its nice chunky grip. Red stripes through the seatbelts are a nice touch that demonstrate the efforts to spice things up.
Ambient lighting sets the scene elsewhere and there are some great carbon fibre-inspired patterns on regular doors and dash. The optional Alcantara trim is also a quality touch, with the fantastic bolstering on the front seats making for a great driving space.
Head and leg room are good up front, with a cocooned feeling in keeping with the sporty demeanour. Storage is OK but nothing special. The glovebox is deep but quite narrow, for example, and the covered centre console is compact, again with a unique shape.
Those in the rear are tighter for head and leg room, and larger adults will have to twist and turn to get through the door apertures. But it’s fine by small car standards. There are separate rear air vents and the same attention to detail exhibited up front, down to the technical pattern on the doors and red stitching.
What are the controls and infotainment like?
On first blush the Megane RS’s major controls present well, with large dials to adjust the dual-zone temperatures and a cluster of buttons for diverting air flow and getting the seats warm.
The dual USB ports at the base of the centre stack are also handy. The optional Bose sound system with its central speaker gives some decent bass and noise, too. But the deeper you dig the more the gloss fades.
While the central 8.7-inch touchscreen presents well in its portrait configuration, there are negatives once you start to use it compared with the more common landscape configuration. Select Apple CarPlay, for example, and the collection of apps take up only part of the screen. Similarly, the reversing camera doesn’t utilise all pixels, instead taking up about half the screen, leaving the rest for a less useful diagram showing the parking sensors.
The R-Link 2 software that runs it all is less than ideal, too. Simple tasks – such as selecting the radio – often mean multiple menus and pushes (for that example, you have to press Menu, then Multimedia, then Radio, at which point you can choose the band (another two pushes) or select a station.
Granted, you can create your own home pages for commonly used functions, but it’s still not as user friendly as many other infotainment systems.
There are additional stalks on the back of the steering wheel for adjusting the volume or tunes, something that comes in handy when listening to tunes.
What’s the performance like?
The engine in the Megane RS has dropped from 2.0 litres in capacity to 1.8, something that makes it smaller than most rivals. But its outputs have increased, now mustering 205kW and 390Nm, the latter arriving from 2400rpm.
That puts it towards the upper end of the current breed of hot hatches, outpunching the likes of the Subaru WRX, Ford Focus ST and Hyundai i30 N (with 228kW and 400Nm the Honda Civic Type R outdoes them all).
It shows in acceleration, too, the fiery turbo’s torque swelling nicely through the middle engine revs for a sustained surge. It peaks with plenty of high-rev enthusiasm and a brap as the six-speed twin-clutch auto darts into the next ratio.
There’s also a six-speed manual, which allows more control from those who enjoy their driving, although the slickness of the auto and its beautiful metal shift paddles make it a logical choice for most buyers.
As for the sound, there’s a mild hum in regular mode, but dial up the Sports exhaust system that is part of the RS mode selector (with five modes, including one customisable) and there’s a deeper thrum with more pronounced pops and crackles from the distinctively shaped central exhaust system.
What’s it like on the road?
The Megane RS has long been one of the sharper hot hatch tools and the current car continues the lineage. Key to its talents is four-wheel steering, marketed as 4Control.
At lower speeds (mostly below 60km/h) it turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts, gently helping bring the tail around and point the car in the direction you’re aiming at. It has the effect of sharpening the steering and creating a very responsive car.
It helps that there are sticky Bridgestone Potenza 19-inch tyres clawing the road, but the raw talent of the car also plays a big role in the athleticism always on display.
At higher speeds, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the fronts, although obviously at a more acute angle. It provides more stability and consistency in faster bends, something that adds to the confidence.
Indeed, the Megane RS is a wonderfully agile and capable hatch when you punt it along the right road. Powerful and progressive brakes stop things nicely, too.
Those wanting to tailor the driving experience can also alter various parameters by pressing the RS button on the dash to access the Multi-Sense system. There are five main modes to choose between: Comfort, Neutral, Sport, Race and Personal, the latter allowing driver customisation of stability control, exhaust sound, throttle sensitivity, gearshift patterns and more. It also allows the choose of various instrument cluster colours and displays, from more traditional virtual tachometer dials and digital speedos to a more race-inspired layout.
As for the suspension, it’s firm but not uncomfortably so given the style of vehicle. The tautness brings genuine advantages to the way it behaves through bends. And, while there’s some terseness over sharp-edged bumps, it’s compliant enough.
While the Cup Pack is tempting at just $1490, if you’re not planning on hitting the track every now and again we wouldn’t bother. The limited slip differential is handy, but it brings compromises to the ride on the road, making things noticeably bumpier. In short, it’s too stiff for everyday driving.
Does it have a spare?
There is no spare tyre for the Megane RS, just a tyre repair kit. At least there are tyre pressure sensors to provide early warning of a puncture.
Can you tow with it?
Regular Meganes can tow small trailers, although the Megane RS is not engineered to tow.
What about ownership?
Regular Renaults get a five-year warranty, but the RS models make do with just three years of coverage and no cap to the kilometres travelled. It seems Renault doesn’t have the same confidence in the RS? Either way, Australian Consumer Law (enforced through the ACCC) could provide additional backup in the event of a major failure.
Servicing is scheduled every 12 months or 20,000km and there’s a capped price service schedule that makes each visit $399. Every second year or 20,000km you also have to replace the air filter and pollen filter at a cost of $112.
What safety features does it have?
The Megane RS has airbags all around as well as some advanced active assistance technology. It includes blind spot warning and lane departure warning.
There’s also auto emergency braking (AEB) that can sense other vehicles and pedestrians and automatically apply the brakes to avoid or reduce the severity of a crash. The AEB system works from 30km/h up to 140km/h.