Renault Megane from the other side of the mirror
Nico: As a hazing, I chose to bring Felix for a test for which he didn’t know the car.
Felix : When I became contributor for RoadRugCars, I imagined I was going to drive only the sexiest cars and participate to the best events. Instead of that, Nico gave me my first rendez-vous in front of a Renault Dealer at the other end of Paris, on a moisty day. Not so sexy. I though he was hazing me.
A kind of Renault expert
Nico : I know that Felix has always loved Renault. It’s his little secret. If you see him during a car event, don’t hesitate to start a lively conversation with him about Renault. You probably know that he’s the proud owner of a Renault Clio III Diesel. You may not know that it’s not his first Renault. Indeed, he spent his accompanied driving (in France you can drive with someone who has a driving license before you pass your real license to drive) on a Renault Megane. Not everyone’s Renault Megane, a Renault Megane R26-R. Yeah, he knows what he’s talking about!
Felix : The meeting point was the historic Renault garage, located in Boulogne, just besides the location of the old factories and its headquarters. An institution: this isn’t a dealership like the others. Especially because it has the license to sell R.S models. And in fact, the showroom was full of them.
Nico : When we arrived at Renault Boulogne, I discovered a tense Felix, a Felix who asked himself a lot of questions. As soon as we passed the door, the doubts dissipated, he quickly understood that we were here for the R.S range.
Felix : Nico made me a nice surprise: we were here to discover the brand new Megane R.S IV Trophy in preview, still under a stretch cover in the middle of the workshop, waiting for its night unveiling. And eventually we tested the car, thanks to an instructor waiting for us on the basement with a sister car.
Megane R.S Trophy: the French sports car tradition
Nico : I immediately felt that all of that was talking to Felix …
Felix : For those who don’t know, R.S stands for Renault Sport, which is at the top of the french firm’s scale. They are involved in Formula One, and gained over the years a strong reputation concerning engines (with all due respect to Rebull Racing) and chassis.
For regular people like us who can’t drive Formula 1, there is the Megane RS (people driving gasoil Megane aren’t normal). The Megane R.S is Renault’s best model. Well,
If you exclude the R.S 01, but you have little chances to cross them on the road, as it’s a race version made for competition only.
If you exclude the Alpine A110, produced in the Ex-Alpine’s Dieppe factory, where Renault Sport is established.
From 1 to 10 minutes : discovering the Megane R.S Trophy
Nico : When we saw the car in the garage it was like a ray of sunshine. Outside there was a grey weather, a bad weather, with terrible rain and wind. A time not to get out of bed. And for once it was in a gloomy place, a parking, that the light was: the Megane R.S Trophy shined, a splendid yellow body! You know, that kind of color that makes you smile again. So, it’s with a big smile that we went to look around the car. 1.5 cm lower and 6.5 cm wider, it looked nastier, slender and above all much more impressive.
Felix : At the top of the top of the Renault’s scale (which excludes some models according my classification, as you may have understood), you have the Trophy version. It’s the most exclusive version of the Megane R.S. Caution: when I use “most exclusive” in a sentence also containing “Renault”, you have to imagine this isn’t the same meaning than when the sentence contains “Porsche” or “Ferrari” instead.
Nico behind the wheel : It was with great excitement that we got into the car. Foot on the clutch, start, roar! This Renault purred like no other one. We already felt that this exhaust was special. Race mode activated right now because we didn’t have time to sneeze today and the car purred all the more. When leaving the car park we had hope that the weather would have got better : not at all.
Felix from the backseat : Keep calm, there is no roll cage. There is no harness. There are no carbon seats. And that’s a pity because French engineers proved they were able to realise a hardcore version such as the mythic R26R (8’17” on the Nurb’ in 2008, not bad for an old lady).
Even if the R.S trophy is not as much impressive as used to be the R26R, it has some strong arguments to provide: 20 additional HP compared to the original version with 300 HP. Most of the time we imagine the front wheels can deal with the torque. Not on a wet floor…
From 10 to 22.5 minutes : the fastest test drive ever made
Nico behind the wheel: After a few Kilometers in the city and on the highway, we finally got out of the traffic. Hallelujah! We could start to really test the car. First remark, the gearbox looked excellent. Very short, it made you want to run at high RPM .
Second remark, the front and rear wheels are steered. It helps to get out of parking, to make good lap times and to ride on small winding roads. But it was also surprising at the roundabout exit on wet ground, we expected to have to compensate the course a little, and in fact the car turned itself by a few degrees in the steering wheel. It is bluffing.
Megane R.S Trophy : 22.5 minutes each, photos included
Felix behind the wheel: The manual gearbox is perfect, and I cannot understand why some people prefer automatic ones. Even if the EDC is really good, I agree. On the road, we feel the chassis is still on the top of its category. But we already knew it.
What particularly impressed me: the four-wheel steering. Below 100 km/h, wheels are turning in the opposite direction, offering a better agility, which is a good thing when you want to exit from the Renault’s workshop parking, or from the vicious hairpin of a track. Over 100 km/h, wheels are turning on the same direction, allowing a better stability in long curves. It was one of the first time I was driving a 4-wheel steering and here I really felt all the interest of the system.
There is also 30% extra stiffness on the suspension. A special cup chassis for extra rigidity (if it is really needed). And super powerful disk brakes with aluminium inside the steel (what else?). Contrary to some other manufacturer’s “sport version”, “cup series” or whatever their names (we will not target anyone because we already have a lot of enemies, contact us in DM if you want us to denounce them) the R.S trophy isn’t only a marketing evolution.
At this point, I feel like I’m starting to bore you. So, let’s talk about the flaws of the car. I’ve been nice these last weeks, and Nico authorised me one (critics). Renault’s engineers are gonna be sad, but I didn’t like so much cracklings when the car decelerates. If I admit I found it funny at the beginning, I changed my mind after some kilometres. I would say it’s too fake. Not as fake as a Mini Cooper JCW. But we forgive this latter because Mini assumed to create a funny car. On the contrary, the Renault is very serious.
Yes, I belong to the classical school. To me fake cracklings are like automatic heel toe: inadmissible cheat. Yes, they recently found a cure for sick people like me. No, I never said people should understand neither follow my tastes.
We want more of the Renault Megane R.S Trophy
Nico from the backseat: When you ride in a Renault R.S, you know you’re going to have a good time, even if it’s very short, it will be intense. However, you also know that you will be exposed to very hard and not very beautiful plastics. I can focus on the car, that is always fun and a foolproof engineer, the party is a little spoiled by these huge plastic ventilation grids on this flat, sad and vertical dashboard.
So, let’s face it, there is always better, but it’s a little below what we would like to have (finish of the car, not performance). For example, bucket seats (very well after all), were made in an abominable hard plastic shell. On the inner doors we also found a carbon fiber vinyl imitation in the worst possible taste. In fact, it’s still a bit caricatural, as in the Clio R.S we had already tested. So you’re going to say “but who really cares” and you’re probably right.
Despite all these small details, we want more, more time with it obviously. We focused on the sensations (and we got a lot), we forgot these small disappointments and we took full advantage of what it has to offer: one of the most playful and versatile cars on the market. This Renault Megane R.S Trophy seems to be a smashing daily car, which I can’t wait to try for a longer trip.
Ps: According Renault Sport, these are real cracklings. What is false is the digital sound. Felix was just too silly to turn the button off…