IF you’ve been looking for a bit of excitement in your life, then Renault has you covered with the 2020 Megane R.S. Trophy. It’s one of the world’s stand out front-wheel drive hot hatches, and it will blow you away.
It’s the little brother of the Trophy-R: a heavily modified version of which is the current Nurburgring lap record holder for fastest front-wheel drive, completing it in 7m:40s:1ms. A road going version of the Trophy-R is also available in significantly limited numbers.
Like it’s R sibling, the Trophy is equipped with the same 300hp (221kW) engine, with the former benefiting from a 130kg weight reduction, radically redesigned suspension and improved aerodynamics.
That aside, you’re still driving one of the fastest, most agile front wheel drive cars ever made, thanks to the 4CONTROL 4-wheel steering that features here. It’s the natural evolution of the R.S. Sport and Cup; just faster, flashier, and all-round more thrilling.
Put simply, the Renault Megane R.S. Trophy is a race car made for the everyday driver. It’s engaging and responsive. You wouldn’t feel weird dropping your kids to school in it, and you would also feel completely comfortable taking it to the track.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty details of its performance, something that needs to be pointed out is its appearance. It comes in some extreme colours, including the Liquid Yellow of our test vehicle. It also comes in vibrant Tonic Orange.
Those two colours stand out like, well, they stand out. And while that may not work for everyone, you certainly won’t go unnoticed. You can of course choose Pearl White, Diamond Black, or the standard Glacier White, but who would see you.
Riding on stylish 19-inch Jerez alloy wheels and Bridgestone Potenza S001 tyres, the Megane R.S. Trophy also sports red Brembo brake calipers. This is no everyday looking five door hatch. The subtle ‘Trophy’ wording on the front air intake gives it away.
Flashy looks aside, it’s what’s underneath that counts, and boy does it count. Picture this. It’s Sunday afternoon, and the Trophy is staring at us. It’s sitting in the driveway just begging to be taken for a spin. It’s a battle of wits, and it’s won.
So we jump in, and fire the Megane R.S. up, and take off, en route to some roads less travelled. Already in one of the sportier modes, because we like it that way, it gurgles and barks its way to destinations unknown.
Sure there’s Comfort and Normal mode for around town driving, offering cruisier gear shifts and engine mapping, and an eco-friendly approach to the road. But there’s also Sport, Race and Perso.
The latter is what might best be described as custom mode, which let us configure some of the settings to Comfort, and the rest of the settings in angry dragon mode, or should we say a combination of Sport and Race.
All modes differ in their function, and each one lights up the interior with a different colour (which is a cool feature). But there’s something about Perso. It makes you feel like you’re a lion that’s just spotted its prey.
The car feels like it sinks a little lower into the road (even if it doesn’t), and definitely drives a little faster, and grows a little meaner, unleashing all of the 221kW from the 1.8-litre turbo petrol power plant on its way to a 0-100km/h sprint in 5.7 seconds.
Average fuel economy is 8.0-litres/100km. Maximum torque is an impressive 420Nm and the 6-speed dual-clutch auto transmission controls it every step of the way. There’s also launch control, a handy addition when you’re practising your race starts.
With your foot on the brake, launch control is activated by holding down the two paddles at the same time. It takes the motor to 2,500rpm, where it will wait for you to drop the brake, for an effortless take off, with minimum wheel spin.
The whole process is surprisingly smooth, and when you start to slow, the active valve exhaust system makes you feel like a boss. It is undoubtedly one of those cars that you can easily reach high speeds in, without even knowing.
But it’s not just it’s power or speed that makes it exceptional. It’s the way Renault has fitted all of that muscle into a vehicle that handles so well.
The sharp 4-wheel steering provides you with control of all wheels when taking a corner. Renault’s longer, more progressive hydraulic bump stops work together with firmer springs to make it feel like its riding on rails through the bends.
Designed to maintain control when you’re driving really hard, the combination pairs with the upgraded Cup chassis, improved shock absorbers, and a stiffer anti-roll bar to deliver a complete performance experience.
Now, with all this muscle, it would be a little upsetting to hear that the interior doesn’t do it justice. There’s no need to worry though, it’s not too bad. Renault has made sure the interior matches the Megane’s agile approach to the road.
The black leather seats are embroidered with red stitching, and are snug and low. They are sports seats though, so they could be considered a little solid, maybe a lot solid. The steering wheel, with its red ‘centre’ marker, feels like it’s out of a race car too.
The 8.7-inch touchscreen R-LINK multimedia system is set up with all the usual stuff, including satellite navigation, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a pumping BOSE sound system with nine speakers, a sub-woofer and a digital amplifier.
The R.S Trophy even includes an R.S monitor, which allows you to track the performance of the vehicle in real-time, using the 40 sensors placed around the car. The Trophy is not just for ripping down country roads and having fun either.
Renault has made an effort to ensure that this Megane can be a family car too, with a decent boot and spacious back seats (for average sized people), along with dual zone climate control, with all important rear vents to keep your passengers comfortable.
There’s plenty of safety tech too, with blind spot monitoring, parking sensors, and a not overly intrusive lane keep assist among a whole host of features, including adaptive cruise control.
Priced from $56,990 drive away, the 2020 Renault Megane R.S. Trophy comes with a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty, three years capped price servicing and up to four years of roadside assistance.
Our test vehicle was supplied by Renault Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Renault Megane R.S. Trophy, contact your local Renault dealer. Pictures courtesy of Cameron Cooke Photography.