Orange is the new craic
With its Tangerine Orange paintwork, wider wings for extra air intake, F1 splitter and flared sills, the new Renault Megane RS certainly hasn't been designed to blend into the crowd. Having said that, once inside the cabin it does feel familiar and is as spacious and comfortable as the standard Megane. Wrapped in the sumptuous Alcantara sports seats the only clue as to what's hiding under the bonnet is the red centre stripe on the steering wheel and the rumble of the engine.
Inside the cabin there's plenty of space for 4 adults, or 2 adults with 2 ISOfix child seats, and existing Renault drivers will be accustomed to the R-Link touchscreen infotainment unit which has been complemented by a Bose sound system. A quick tap of a button allows you to switch driving modes and enter Sport or Race modes instantaneously while the R.S. Monitor screen allows you to keep an eye on your performance and record trips to share on social media later.
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Despite having a wider track and being lower than a standard Megane comfort hasn't really suffered. The hard suspension didn't feel too severe around Cork and Co. Kerry while overall handling was excellent, and it did feel really stable on wet roads. However, the 4-wheel "4 Control" steering does take some getting used to and it can be especially disconcerting when looking in the wing mirror at lower speeds!
The Megane RS is powered by a growling 1.8-litre petrol engine with 280bhp and 390nm of torque which manages 0-100kph in just 5.8 seconds reaching a top speed of 255kph. The RS is available in both "Sport" and "Cup" guise, the latter chassis equipped with an even firmer suspension and a mechanical limited slip differential focusing on track performance. Reassuringly it is well able to stop when necessary too and a Brembo brake setup is available on the Cup model.
Prices start from €41,995 for a Renault Megane RS with a manual gearbox but the model tested was a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic, costing €48,225 with options such as Orange Tonic metallic paint, a Bose sound system, an Alcantara leather interior with red stitching and 19" alloy wheels.
The new Renault Megane RS has proven its worth as a hot hatch and with interior space to match the standard model it might just be the perfect compromise between a family car and track-day demon.