Forza Racing Network's Road Tests: 2010 Renault Megane RS 250
Normally when we hear the name "Renault", we immediately think of small city cars like the Clio and the Twingo. Small, cheap and reliable (ish) cars that get the job done. Some motorsport enthusiasts will think of the Megane coupé Rally Car and the Laguna Touring Car which competed in the BTCC for a fair time. Legends also arise such as the 5 Turbo, the giant-killer alongside the renowned Peugeot 205 T16. The last Megane was...weird. From the front it looked alright, but then you got around to the back of the car with the Kim Kardashian-esque trunk. Needless to say, my expectations were a little on the low side when I was handed the keys to the most recent Megane "Hot Hatch". Now I've driven the Clio RS200 and I was impressed, even the 197 beforehand was a hoot. But the larger Megane? I wasn't expecting much.
The first thing to go wrong was the weather. It was nice and sunny when I left the Horizon hub, but no sooner as I got the car onto the open road the heavens decided to open. Oh well, at least the car was a bright colour so it definitely distracted from the dismal weather. And on that note, the weather was the ONLY thing to go wrong on my road test. Overall first impressions of this car? I quite like it. Gone are the angular lines and big rear door lid. In their place are swooping curves and pleasing lines which are soft on the eyes but still make the car look sporty. The ride, though stiff for a hatchback is still smooth and tackles the Italian roads with little effort. The car is barely audible when leisurely cruising, yet when you put your foot down, the pokey 2 litre F4RT (don't laugh, I know it looks like 'fart' from a distance) engine snarls into life and the hearty twin scroll turbo hisses with glee, pushing the car along with its 247 French ponies and 250lb of torque at 3,000rpm.
This car's main rivals at Horizon are the Vauxhall Astra VX-R, the Ford Focus RS and the ST and the VW Golf R and Scirocco R. Front wheel drive, turbo-charged hatchbacks all within the region of 250bhp. Classified as the "Super Hot Hatches", the Megane certainly can run with the best of them. 0-62 comes in six seconds flat and hauls itself all the way up to 157mph. All this performance from a hatchback certainly can't be a bad thing, especially if you need all five seats and the boot space to match. The car also sports Brembo brakes for when the car needs to be reigned in, a stiffer chassis than the regular Megane (which is definitely noticeable in the corners) and Toyo Proxes R888 tires to keep the whole package stuck to the ground. The Megane also sports a six speed manual gearboxto use the full range of power the Megane has to offer.
As standard, this model of Megane RS came in the trademark Jaune Sirius yellow with black 18" wheels. As stated previously, the wacky and angular styling of its predecessor is gone, replaced by smooth yet agressive lines which convey a sense of motion even when the car is sitting still. Large bi-xenon headlights illuminate the road ahead, coupled with LED Daytime Running Lights. Carrying on around the side of the car, you'll notice it has a wider track than the standard model and the wheel arches swell slightly to accomodate the bigger wheels. The rear of the car converges nicely over the diffuser, from which a centre-exit exhaust pokes out to make this car look almost like it's ready to go out on the track. It's not all on the outside either. The cabin is dressed with aluminum pedals, a Renault Sport steering wheel with thumb grips, analog rev counter and sport seats with extra lateral support. Inside and out, the car has been refined to be sporty, yet serve as a daily driver when needed.
Affordability & Practicality:
So how much will one of these cost you? If you're buying from the Horizon Festival itself, then a brand new model will set you back around €26,000 (£18,700 or $27,600). Expensive for a hatchback, right? Well, while the Golf R is more economic and the Focus ST gives you more grunt, the Megane's driving experience is far more refined. Plus, the Megane has come on in leaps and bounds since it was first unleashed upon the world. If safety is your thing, have no fear. The Renault Megane hatchback scored five-stars in EuroNCAP crash testing. Front, side and curtain airbags are fitted as standard, as well as electronic stability programme and anti-lock brakes. Downside? It suffers from poor rear visibility, yet this is countered with rear parking sensors fitted as standard.
I wasn't expecting a lot from this car, I'll be honest. I'm much more a fan of the older Renault performance hatches. But this Megane certainly swayed my opinion of newer entries into the field. While certainly not in the same leagues as the Audi RS3 and the Mercedes A Class (which sport their fancy AWD systems), the car still provides a thrilling experience around the roads of South Europe. Even in the wet weather it didn't struggle and handled the slippery roads with ease. It has more than enough power to compete with its rivals and is definitely worth considering if you're looking at upgrading from a smaller hot hatch, like a Corsa or a Clio.
'Mike Seddon is an avid follower of the car culture and has been present for both the Colorado and Southern Europe Festivals. He also goes trackside whenever possible and - armed with his trusty camera - strives to capture the best moments and cars from every event he attends'.